If you’re not sure what searches you need when buying a and whether or not you need them, then this guide is for you. Searches on a property are an important aspect of buying a new home. Find out more about the different types of searches and get a few conveyancing solicitor quotes at the same time 

What Are Property Searches?

One of the most important tasks when house buying, is the searches that need to be carried out. Searches are a standard set of queries submitted to the authority that covers the area you are moving to.

House buying searches reveal important information about the property and are ordered at the beginning of the conveyancing process.

Searches are made up of a local authority search, environmental search, water and drainage search, and title searches. Sometimes other searches are needed. This depends on the location and type of property you are buying. 

What Are The Main Searches On A Property?

The 4 main searches when buying a house usually come consist of:

  1. Local Authority Search
  2. Environmental Search
  3. Water and Drainage Search
  4. Title Search

Property searches reassure you there aren’t any unwanted problems in the property you intend to buy. They also check the surrounding area. 

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Local Authority Searches

There are two parts to a local authority search – a LLC1 and a CON29. 

1. Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

This covers any charges or attendant restrictions relating to land or property. These are relevant if the property is:

  • a listed building
  • located in a conservation area
  • subject to a tree protection order
  • in need of an improvement or renovation grant
  • or situated in a smoke control zone

It also covers planning agreements and conditional planning permissions. All LLC1 registrations are legally binding on successive owners (i.e. you).

2. Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

This supplies information relating to:

  • public highways, 
  • proposals for new roads, 
  • rail schemes
  • planning decisions that could affect the property. 
  • outstanding statutory notices, 
  • breaches of planning or building regulations or 
  • the existence of a compulsory purchase order. 

Environmental factors, like whether the house stands on contaminated land or in a Radon gas affected area are also covered.

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Drainage and Water Searches

Drainage and Water Searches are carried out when you buy a house. They provide information on the location of sewers and whether the property is connected to the mains water supply. 

Drainage and water searches will gather info on whether:

  • the property is connected to the public sewage system.
  • If the property is connected to the public water supply.
  • How the property will be charged for its water supply.

Title Searches

The title search refers to the examination of public records. These determine a property’s legal ownership. Title searches confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that they’re legally allowed to sell it.

Other Property Searches

The aforementioned searches are the most prominent property searches and they are usually ordered as a package. However, depending on the area the property is in, your conveyancing solicitor may need to dig a little deeper and examine the following:

Flood Search

To avoid a flood risk, it is advised that the property should be checked on the Flood Map at the Environment Agency’s website. Results will show possible floods and also provide a detailed assessment of the area.

Chancel Repair Search

A Chancel Search checks to see if you’re liable to pay possibly up to tens of £1,000s towards the repair and upkeep of your local church in England and Wales.


Mining Search

If you are buying in a mining area, mining searches may be ordered. They provide vital information on the history of mining near the property and whether it affects the house. Properties built on old mining grounds are at risk of a variety of costly issues, especially subsidence.

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How Long Do Property Searches Take?

Local Authority searches can take anywhere from 10 days to several months. Drainage and water, environmental, flood, mining and chancel repair searches can take between 1 and 10 days.

What Can Delay Searches?

A delay in search results may occur if your local authority is slow to act or has a manual system and this can slow down the process by weeks. However, most local authorities have or are in the process of using an online system.

If your searches reveal anything worrying, your conveyancer might have to order further searches. This will delay the process. 

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Can I Exchange Soon After Searches?

It can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to exchange after searches are complete. Your searches will be returned and approved prior to exchanging contracts so you have time to raise queries.