To buy or not to buy... a house liable to flooding?

Hi all,

I’m hoping to get some outside opinions on this scenario if you knowledgeable folk here wouldn’t mind adding in your 2c’s to the equation.

Basically we have seen a large (almost 3,000sq ft) detached house for sale in a rural area. We currently live in a city, however we have been thinking of heading out to the sticks for quite some time now for the benefits of a larger home, more privacy, peace & quiet etc…
The house we’re interested in is approx. 35 minutes from the nearest large city, so it’s not totally isolated. Also, we’re retired so won’t be commuting to work etc… We just want a nice comfortable home to relax in.

The plan would be to hang onto our city house for the immediate future as it’s in a good area and not rent it out, so we have the option of moving back there if the country lifestyle doesn’t work out for us so we have something to fall back on. The rural house we’re interested in however is nicely situated in the middle of two towns, approx. 5 miles to either one, and ticks all of our boxes location wise, site wise etc…

The house itself was built 10 years ago and was finished to a fairly high standard. I say was, as the house is currently a bank sale and the previous owners have stripped it of all it’s fixtures and fittings and so will need a bit of money (20k?) spent on it to make it habitable once again. It’s in otherwise good condition.

As the house is a bank sale, it’s priced very keenly indeed. There’s been a few open viewings with a large turnout and according to the EA there’s an offer about 10% under the asking on the table - however to make a long story short, we have more than a hunch that this isn’t the case and that this is an illusive phantom bidder.

Due to the favourable pricing of the house, we would be able to buy this property in cash and have enough left over to bring the house up to a good finished standard for comfortable living once again, without the need to sell our house in the city (which we would hang onto for a year minimum to see if the country life is for us, and then possibly consider selling or renting later on down the line)

So all sounds great so far, right? Well, wrong. After talking to some neighbours we have discovered that the house is liable to flooding. Apparently the road outside the house can get badly flooded making it near to impossible to pass (though some neighbours reckon a jeep could manage it no bother). Now, the house itself has never actually flooded - even during the freak weather of around 2009 when surrounding areas needed canoes to get in and out of houses, but we’ve been reliably informed that the water has come up to as far as the front door step - but not actually entered the house.

There is absolutely no signs of water/flood damage to the house internally nor any dampness etc… and we’ve heard from more than one local source that the house has never been flooded - only the driveway and road outside. We have also checked the address with numerous insurance companies and insurance is not an issue - it’s not being flagged as a flood risk on their system, and it has never been claimed for a flood event previously.

On talking to more neighbours, it would seem that this flooding has only started within the past few years, and they reckon it’s only affected this house on average 3 times in the past 10 years.

We feel that we pretty much have all the information we need to make an informed decision before deciding to put an offer on this property, but would like some outsiders opinions first.

Whilst this possible flood situation is far from ideal, we feel that it’s something we could live with if it only happens every once in awhile. As we’re retired, if there’s a few days that the driveway is impassible it’s not a major issue for us as we won’t be missing out on work or school runs etc…

Apparently the council have done works on the road in front previously to raise it a little, but this doesn’t appear to have solved the problem. If we did encounter a large problem with a flood, our contingency plan would be to either be to 1.) wait it out in the house and have it well stocked with supplies, 2.) retreat to our home in the city or 3.) take a winter break in Spain for a few weeks until the bad weather has cleared (which is something we’ve often thought about doing anyhow)

Other than this, the house ticks all the boxes for us - price, location, site, views, space, design etc…

The house is currently priced at roughly a third of what other similar houses would be in the locality. Obviously this is to allow for the fact that it’s a bank repossession, will need a good chunk of change to place fixtures and fittings, and given the fact that it’s in a place liable to flooding and so is priced accordingly. Other houses in this price range in the area are basically shacks, shells of houses fit for demolition.

We have been looking casually for the past few years for a house in the country, but there was always some negative whether it be price or location etc… This is the first one that suits us and that we can comfortably afford along in having change to spare AND keep our city residence.

Are we mad to be even considering this? Or do you think it would be worth a punt to have our dream home finished to a high standard and mortgage free for under 100k?

Advice from the locals in the area has been that it’s worth taking a chance on so long as we’d be getting it for a good bargain, which is what we intend, and if placing a bid it would be considerably lower than the present asking price.

We love the house and are eager for it IF we get it at the right price, but would love to hear others opinions on it in case we’re potentially making a huge mistake.

It’s very difficult to advise on the house itself or the likelihood of the flooding being an issue, but here are some general thoughts.

Average rainfall amounts across much of the country has increased by about 10-15% when you compare the periods 1940-1960 to 1970-2010, and Met Eireann has predicted that average winter rainfall in the western half of the country will increase further over the decades to come. Rainfall events are also likely to be more intense which could lead to flooding even in areas that haven’t experienced issues in the past.

I suppose it might be worth looking at the general topography of the area and figure out if there are any reasonable local authority works that might alleviate any problems in the future. Raising the road level might help traffic to avoid flooding but it is also likely to cause the water level on one side of the road to rise even higher. Are bridges or culverts big enough? Have drainage ditches fallen into disrepair or could they be cleared or dug deeper? If you can’t see a couple of obvious measures that would improve the situation then I would be wary because flooding events in the future are likely to be more severe and regular than we have experienced.

On the issue of moving into a rural area for retirement I think you have to look carefully at your support (family, friends, community etc) and ensure that you’re not going to feel isolated, but again, you’d know best on that yourself. 3500 sqft can feel very lonely.

Best of luck with it. Have a look at what you could realistically rent out the house for just in case you find it difficult to sell in the future.

Are you sure that a 3,000 sq ft McMansion is big enough for just the 2 of you?

Only joking - but seriously, a large house will come with a large garden and lots and lots, c. 1 acre, of grass - are you ready to invest in a big lawn-mower.

I think that you are chasing the dream and not looking at the practicalities.

As Cole suggests, best look to the topography of the site. If the garden slopes away from the house, dig a channel to move the water from the driveway, away from the house.

Either way, your eyes are wide open and you will only have yourselves to blame if things do go wrong. Personally, at retirement stage, I would be looking for less upkeep and closer to amenities - a stroll to the shops etc., but everyone has different priorities.

Best of luck, and happy researching!

3000 sq foot doesn’t sound like a home to relax away your retirement in. It sounds like a heating and maintenance nightmare suitable for a really large family with lots of money. As an adventure i say go for it, you only live once. As a relaxy home i think smaller would be way more suitable assuming there are two of you. Personally though if i wanted an adventure i’d go off to a sunny country and try that for a year. Somewhere ryanair flies to so friends and family would actually visit.

I would echo the previous comments and add it may be worth looking for professional advice. My brother has similar issues in 2009 & 2011. All roads around him were flooded and only accessible by tractor/ trucks. Not much fun in retirement I would suspect. The house price probably reflects the risk but if you can get insurance it may be worth it.

As regards the house size you need to budget realistically for maintainence. Probably around 1.5% per year of the full market value.

270sqm is not too large for two people + guest accommodation.

What’s the point in moving to the country if you’re not going to get a sense of space and have people stay over for lazy weekends?

The really unsuitable gaffs I see are more like 450+ sqm with vast reception rooms.

Assuming 70% of total space as usable rooms, that’s 10 decent sized (4x5m) rooms. 4 beds, kitchen, dining, 2 reception rooms, study, storage. On a detached site you’d want to use different rooms depending on time of day and season.

As far as running costs are concerned, you’re not going to heat unused rooms but insulation and build quality is important.

+1
As you get older the less work the house needs the better, a large house could eventually become a moneypit, far better to look at buying something smaller at the edge of a town or village to reduce the risks of being isolated after the driving license expires.

We have a similar issue with our driveway and roads around house. It floods but house never does. We use an old jeep and it gets across it with no issues. It does cross my mind though that when I’m much older I might have mobility issues and not be able to climb up into a jeep. I know my elderly father can’t climb up into the passenger seat at all.

Can you insure the house?

Has there been any flood relief works in the area recently?

I could cope with flooding in the general area, but not on the actual property itself I think.

Things are usually cheap for a reason. In this case, the house itself may not flood, but if the property floods, you will have access issues and possible damage to external systems - treatment system, etc.

Tread carefully.

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the replies so far, really appreciate you all weighing in on this one as it’s proving to be a bit of a conundrum for us.

Apologies first of all, I may have been over zealous in stating the size of the house. It’s far from a McMansion :slight_smile:

There’s actually a bit of discrepancy over the size of the house - EA’s figures state it being roughly 2,200 sq ft, we did our own calculations and came up with circa 2,000 sq ft, but then on BER report it’s listed as being 2,800 sq ft… so we’re not actually sure how big it is exactly. Suffice to say, it’s adequate for our needs without being overwhelming. It’s far from a sprawling country manor - it’s just your typical 4-bed bungalow. We will have an adult son living with us who works from home, so we don’t feel a 4 bed house for 3 adults is too luxurious - plus we would like the spare bedroom as a guest room / storage. Unfortunately there’s no shed on the property and the utility is quite small, so in short, it’s far from gigantic proportions :slight_smile:

Hi Coles2,

Many thanks for such an informative and detailed response. You’re spot on, after speaking to some neighbours they pretty much said the same as yourself and reckoned that the weather will be worsening in the coming years. There’s also work being carried out on a major roadway some miles away which they fear may affect future flooding in an adverse manner.

RE: The switch to the country - we’re both originally form the country but moved into the town approx. 40 years ago, so we’re not total greenhorns when it comes to country living, but it will be a big change for sure, hence the need to hang onto our semi-d in town in case the move doesn’t work out as intended.

We’ve been checking out floodsmaps.ie and cfram.ie however the information for our area seems to be very dated and we haven’t found them very useful… if we’ve been using them correctly that is, I have to say the mapping isn’t the most intuitive or user-friendly.

We’ve also found the original planning permission on the local CoCo’s website and can see areas “liable to flooding” marked in the vincinity of the house - yet full planning permission was granted at the time. :neutral_face:

Thanks again Coles2, lots of food for thought there!

Some very valid points there bryanmcd! :slight_smile:

We don’t have any definite measurements of the site, but it appears to be in the region of approx. 1.5 acres - yes, which is far too big for us! We have no interest in maintaining large manicured lawns at this stage of our life, so the idea would be to fence off a small piece of grass at the back for a small lawn and let the rest grow wild. Another thought was to perhaps look into the idea of selling the excess land back to the original farmer who owned the land previously if he would have any interest in it as it is of little to no use to us.

Whilst there is a very slight gradient of the driveway, unfortunately it is quite flat and nearly on par with the outside road. I was wondering if we could raise the driveway, but as my husband pointed out, water always finds its own level and it would still flood the areas either side of the driveway, the sides of the house etc…

Some great advice there hiphop!

Whilst we do enjoy our breaks away, unfortunately we’re committed to Ireland and couldn’t picture ourselves living abroad for any length of time, whilst we enjoy our holidays, similarly we always look forward to returning home :slight_smile:

Whilst the house is considerably bigger than our current semi-d, it’s far from unmanageable and I don’t think 3 of us in a 4 bedroom too house will be too expansive. We would definitely be looking to get SEAI grants for extra insulation, efficient boilers and heating systems etc…

Thanks again for weiging in hiphop, always good to get others perspectives which is exactly what I want!

Sorry to hear of your brothers troubles. It does sound like a nightmare alright. We have been speaking to numerous neighbours and the general consensus seems to be that whilst it’s a pain, the roads are manageable. Not an ideal situation of course, but then again for a similar house on a road with no flood risk we’d be looking at 3 times the price!

We were thinking that if within the first year or two and the roads became very bad that we could move into our house in the city til it passed, or indeed take a nice 2-3 week break over in Spain etc til it eased off. Not an ideal situation, but we acknowledge that when you’re getting a house with such a discount these are some of the measures that you may possibly have to take.

Of course, as other locals in the area have countered, it may never happen again. It’s very hard to know, you cannot predict the future. Which is why we would want to be getting the house at a substantial discount in order to allow for the inconvenience and possibility of having to repair and replace if the house did eventually become flooded.

Hi Eschatologist,

We’re unsure of the exact measurements of the house, EA says 2,200, we calculated approx. 2,000, and BER states it’s 2,800. Regardless, it’s not a huge house by any means.

It’s 4 bedrooms, 1 sitting room, 1 kitchen/dining, 2 bathroom, 1 ensuite, small utility. The bedrooms are on the generous side, which is what we love about the house, all other rooms are about average I would say.

RE: insulation - we would definitely be looking into getting SEAI grants for extra insulation, more efficient heating systems etc…

The house is approximately 10 years old so would be substantially newer that our current house (though we did major renovations and rewiring etc… on it 10 years ago also) I completely understand with what your saying, unfortunately however, most of the one-off houses in the locality and indeed the county, are all about 2,000+ sq feet, and to be honest we were looking for that bit of extra space - feeling too cramped in the semi-d in town, plus we like the private site and open space and there are no houses overlooking or adjacent.

I heed your advice re: the driving licence and being isolated - this is another concern, where we are currently an ambulance could be at our door within 5 minutes - in the proposed “new” house, it could possibly take an hour or more? Definitely something to take into consideration.

We currently drive a jeep and have done for the past few years as we prefer the higher driving position it affords plus it’s very comfortable for long runs and spacious for carrying both passengers and cargo, so at least we have the right kind of vehicle to begin with! :laughing:

Thanks for raising that concern paddi22, we would like to think we have another good few years left before we would have mobility issues to concern us, but you’re quite right to point them out. More food for thought!

Hi Stapler,

We are 99% sure there will be no issues with insurance. We have already rang a number of insurance companies and given the address and all have come back with quotes - I specifically asked if the address was being flagged on their system as being a flood risk and it’s come back with a resounding no, so that’s some good news. I don’t think we would even entertain the idea of moving if we knew from the outset that we couldn’t get insurance.

Yes, we are aware of consequences with flooding to the septic tank and water supplies, which is something that worries us greatly. Again, we would want to be getting a hefty discount, in order to plan for these events should they need repairing / replacing later on down the line. On the other side however, no water charges! :laughing:

Re: flood relief works - we have heard that the CoCo did some work to raise the road sometime back, it doesn’t appear to have made much of a difference, if any however. Not sure if things got very bad if we could approach the CoCo to carry out some remedial works?

Tread carefully is what we plan today, nothing is set in stone. We want to explore all of our options and go into this with open eyes, hence wanting others feedback and perspective on the situation.

Thanks again for replying Stapler!

Check here www.cfram.ie

Then Go to your region Say west and go to maps
westcframstudy.ie/maps.aspx
unfortuantely each region is slightly different and most rural areas are not covered but you might find some crucial info
Maps only uploaded in the last 2 months

Many thanks!

Will definitely do a bit more homework on this.

I’ll report back if an when I have any updates.

Very best of luck with it either way.

Is there a river or lake in the area or is the flooding the result of localised pooling of water? If you look at the old historic ordinance maps online you can see if the land there has historically been marshy/boggy.

I would also look at modern maps because many of the more recent developments have altered the flooding characteristics of rivers.

Flood protection in one town will mean additional flooding nearby.

Agreed. OP has not indicated the likely source of the flooding which would be an important consideration. From this I would surmise that the cause is not a river, lake or sea… so would relate to water table and drainage issues… but of course building and concreting over of land has increased the runoff in many areas.