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Do I really need to do all those searches?

By March 16, 2016January 29th, 2021Litigation

A mineshaft believed to be at least 90 metres (300ft) deep has opened up in the back garden of a house in Cornwall. A patio and part of a garage have fallen into the hole. Fortunately the house is unoccupied and structural engineers are working out how to make it safe.

Stuart Dann, from Mining Eye, which maps Cornish mines, compared the ground in the area to a huge piece of Swiss cheese, dotted with holes.

“Both houses nearby are empty, which is a very good job. It is easy to see the woods, fields and houses and assume nothing was there. If you go back to 1750, the area was completely different. There were dozens of engine houses and hundreds of shafts in the area.

Shafts do open from time to time in Cornwall, often after heavy rain.

A common question put to conveyancers by purchasers, is whether searches are necessary, they can be costly and time consuming.  Often purchasers wish to get the purchase through and at the least cost.  It understandable, buying a house is expensive business.  A case in the news this weeks shows, yet again, the importance of searches.  When buying a house the onus is on the buyer to make sure they make the necessary searches and enquiries, the maxim is ‘buyer beware’ buyers must buy with caution and only after they have satisfied themselves that they truely know what they are buying.  The recent case shows a mining shaft opening up in a back garden and a garage falling in.  The case shows the importance of ensuring searches are done before you buy property.   If you do find out before you purchase a property that the land may be subject to historic mines, then steps can be taken to ensure appropriate insurance is in place or you can choose to buy elsewhere.  A ground stability search will set you back £30-£35.  Compare this to the cost of your property falling into a big hole and the maths is pretty simple. 

Alison Rocca

Author Alison Rocca

Alison is a solicitor in our Litigation department.

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