Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Terrafirma Ground Report?

The Terrafirma Ground Report is a best in class ground risks and liabilities report that includes an expert professional opinion, risk assessment and risk transfer on all potential ground risks and satisfies recent new guidance on mining and ground perils in The Law Society Conveyancing Handbook. The Terrafirma Ground Report translates the risk from mining activity, subsidence, sinkholes, radon, fracking, mineral planning activity and much more, allowing the purchaser to better understand the ground.

What types of mining are included in the Terrafirma Ground Report?

The Council of Mortgage Lenders website provides information to Consumers on Issues affecting lending decisions where properties are close to mineshafts. Before the Ground report, to fulfil this guidance there would be no option other than to order each report individually (such as a Metalliferous Report, China Ball Clay Search, CON29M, etc). Our Terrafirma Ground report covers all types of mining, including Coal, Tin and metals, Limestone, Bath stone, Brine, Gypsum, Chalk, Clay, Stone and Iron. Therefore, there is no longer any need to order multiple mining reports, or spend time researching which report is required; you can rely on the Terrafirma Ground Report to identify all mining hazards.

What data does the Terrafirma Ground Report use?

In a ‘world first’, the Terrafirma Ground Report includes an expert analysis of ground movement which identifies ‘real-world’ evidence of past or current subsidence using investigated subsidence claims, satellite-derived surface deformation and Terrafirma’s exclusive SinkholeALERT databases. We also use British Geological Survey data and pioneering university soil models to assess natural clay-related subsidence, and official Coal Authority data to create our CON29M section of the report. For reports within the Cheshire Brine Compensation District, Terrafirma will obtain and append a purchased Cheshire Salts Search as compiled by Groundsure/Cheshire Brine Subsidence Compensation Board (CBSCB). The terms and conditions of this report and supplier (Groundsure) may also apply, which can be found here.

Does the Terrafirma Ground Report include natural ground subsidence?

Yes, the Terrafirma Ground Report includes all known Natural Ground Perils, including; Slope stability, running sands, sinkholes and erosion.

How is coal mining covered within the Terrafirma Ground Report?

Every Terrafirma Ground Report includes our Terrafirma official CON29M as standard. Unlike other coal mining reports, the Terrafirma CON29M has been designed to significantly increase the pass rate. With improved data processes, risk screening and assessment, your client will have a better understanding of what coal mining risks face their property, and what they need to do next. We also provide equivalent loss of value insurance protection for residential properties covering any subsequent change in Coal Authority data (up to £100,000 for the lifetime of the property ownership).

Is the Terrafirma Ground Report accepted by lenders?

Yes, our Ground report is accepted by lenders. The UK Finance Mortgage Lenders Handbook states ‘if you are hoping to buy a property that you believe may be close to a mine shaft, you should ensure that your conveyancer undertakes relevant searches and advises you on any risks’ and ‘you must ensure that any other searches which may be appropriate to the particular property, taking into account its locality and other features are carried out’. Our Ground Report fulfils all this guidance for mining hazards by providing a full risk assessment.

What triggers a Further Action report that needs to be referred to the lender?

If your report recommends Further Action and to inform the lender, it means there is a mine entry, void or significant natural ground peril within the immediate vicinity of the property.

What other reports do Terrafirma provide?

Terrafirma offer a comprehensive suite of solutions to translate complex ground risks into clear and reliable advice. In addition to our Ground Report which covers all types of mining risk and ground hazards, we also offer a report called the Terrafirma CON29M. The Terrafirma CON29M Report provides expert interpreted answers to all 11 questions (14 for commercial properties) using Coal Authority licensed data and meets all the requirements as stipulated by the Law Society CON29M (2018) guidance notes. It translates the risk of coal mining activity into a clear professional opinion. 

If the property isn’t deemed to be at risk from mining or ground hazards, we recommend the TerraSearch Assure which gives  complete protection from all ground risks through built-in £10 million bespoke Professional Indemnity cover protecting all parties within a property transaction. For more information please contact Terrafirma or your Search Provider.

What are Terrafirma’s terms and conditions?

Our terms and conditions are available here. We provide protection up to £10 million indemnity per report, backed by comprehensive Professional Indemnity insurance. The report can be relied upon by the Client and by any person acting in a professional or commercial capacity in relation to the report. If a report includes an apended Cheshire Salts Search, the terms and conditions of the supplier and attached report, may also apply.

How does the TerraSearch Assess differ from the Terrafirma Ground Report?

Our TerraSearch® Assess report contains all types of mining, including our regulated TerraSearch® Coal Report, and planned and future mineral extraction. Our Terrafirma Ground report contains all of the above, however it includes our Terrafirma CON29M instead of the TerraSearch® Coal, and also includes additional modules such as ground movement, natural ground perils, radon and oil and gas activity.

When can I expect my report to be delivered?

Providing the information that Terrafirma have been given is correct, we aim to deliver the majority of our Terrafirma Ground Reports within 24 hours, normally within a few hours. Complex sites, or those requiring additional expert risk assessment may take up to 5 working days. Please contact us if you wish the delivery to be expedited.

What are the site size bandings?

We do not differentiate on site size for residential Ground Reports, provided it is a single unit residential property, either existing or currently being built (e.g., a single plot on a residential development site). We define Commercial as a non-residential property, commercial or development sites, multiple unit residential sites, or non-residential sites. We charge a fixed price for commercial properties up to 25 hectares, increasing in 25-hectare bands thereafter.

What is the Terrafirma cancellation policy?

Terrafirma operate a 24-hour cancellation period. If you or search provider can notify a member of the Terrafirma team within 24 hour working hours of ordering a Terrafirma Ground Report, we will cancel the report free of charge. If a Ground Report is cancelled after the first 24 working hours, you will be charged at the full price.

Do we need to amend our client care letter when we use the Terrafirma Ground Report?

We have created recommended wording for you to copy and paste into your client care letter, with different options dependent on whether you work on an opt-in or opt-out basis. Please contact us if you would like us to share or discuss this with you.

For yours and your lenders information and protection, we recommend that you undertake a ground report. This expertly examines whether the site may be situated on or near land that could be at risk from historic mining and natural ground perils, and quantifies the risk to a site from nearby mine entries, natural ground hazards, shallow mining and subsidence claims, as well as past, present and planned mining activity. The purpose of this search is to try to ensure that any recorded or suspected risks are identified prior to purchase because, without expert interpretation and recommendation, you may become responsible for uninsured damage, lose material property value by risk association, or spoil the use or enjoyment of your new property.

Why do you recommend a Building Survey in the professional opinion?

Although we can pass a report for having a low risk of any ground movement moving forwards, without visiting the property we have no way of knowing if there has been any movement due to subsidence in the past.

We recommend a Building Survey so the purchaser can identify any subsidence damage (amongst other risks covered in the survey) and the options for repairs and maintenance before exchanging. We recommend either a Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 Building Survey dependent on various factors such as the coal hazards identified, the age of the property, etc. We include links within the professional opinion to give more information on the different types of survey, and how to find a local surveyor.