As we become more climate-conscious, buyers are more concerned about the environmental credentials of their new homes. To make sure you are buying a home that is as future-proofed as possible, what should you look out for on your house hunt?

The starting point: the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

The selling agents will provide you with an EPC, which tells you about the energy efficiency of the property. At a glance, you will see a rating from A to G, with A being highest level of energy efficiency and G being the lowest. Alternatively, you can download a copy of an EPC from the government website link:

The energy efficiency of our homes in the UK has been a hot topic in recent years and the government has set a target of as many homes as possible being rated C or above by 2035. That means that homes rated D, E, F and G may become increasingly difficult to find a mortgage for and sell.

The EPC is your starting point because it will give you recommendations for improvements, and an estimate for how much it will cost to put upgrades in place. It covers a lot of ground from your lighting, to your loft insulation, cavity insulation, boiler-efficiency, and the quality of the windows to name a few.

Once you have that information, you know how much it will cost to upgrade your home to a C rating, and whether that is something you want to negotiate on in the purchase price.

Flood risk: not just in coastal areas

With the impact of climate change, unfortunately more homes are becoming vulnerable to flood risk as sea levels rise. The searches that we do as conveyancers will explain the risk of flooding. As a first stop, you can check if the property is in a flood risk area on the government’s website

You cannot be complacent about flood risk if your property is inland. People often think that flooding is only a risk for coastal houses, but that is not entirely true. If your property is near a river, or situated near a flood plain, you should think about your flood risk from burst riverbanks or surface water flooding from thunderstorms.

Once you have found a home you love, the risk of flooding need not be a deal-breaker. However, how do you go about managing the risk? You need to get good insurance that might be a little more expensive than other home insurance. Once you have it in place, you are in good stead for getting a mortgage for your new home.

Japanese knotweed: is it a deal breaker?

This invasive plant once struck fear into a homebuyer’s heart. The concern was that its deep roots had the potential to cause structural damage to a home. However, new research has rebutted this, suggesting that there is little to no risk of structural damage to robust buildings like homes. The roots can still cause an issue for buildings with shallower foundations such as conservatories, garages or boundary walls.

Despite the downgrade in concern over the plant, it is still mandatory to disclose its presence at a property. As a buyer, you could insist that the seller pays for its removal professionally (which can cost around £4,000) before you buy the property.

Asbestos: one for the renovators

Asbestos has been banned in building since 1999. However, some older houses still have some areas of asbestos. It is usually harmless unless it’s disturbed.

If you want to purchase an older house (built before 2000) and you have plans to carry out building works on the property, you should consider commissioning an asbestos survey during the transaction. This will highlight how much asbestos is in the building (if any) and how costly it will be to get it removed professionally before you can begin your renovations.

Solar panels: future energy resources

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as people look to offset rising energy costs and become more reliant on renewable resources. If installing solar panels is part of your plan for your new home, you should think about the solar location.

Unfortunately, solar panels are not beneficial for every single property. You may be restricted by the direction of your roof – is it south facing or north facing? Will you generate sufficient energy to warrant the cost if the roof is north facing? It is worth considering these issues if you want an environmentally friendly home in the future.

What the searches will tell you

As part of any property transaction, we conduct searches of the property so you know as much as possible about your new home. The Environmental Search will highlight:

  • Previous uses of the land
  • Any land contamination
  • Presence of radon gas
  • Air quality
  • Subsidence
  • Historic coal mining
  • Flood risk

We can help you navigate the results of these searches. Some of these risks can be managed with insurance. However, others may affect your health, or the saleability of your property.