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Our Vision

To transform how we understand the ground.


About Terrafirma


Across the UK, homes, infrastructure and land are at risk from complex ground hazards that can remain hidden for years. Every day, decisions worth millions of pounds are being made without considering the consequences of these hazards, putting the investments of individuals, families and businesses at risk.

At Terrafirma, we are passionate about improving the understanding of the ground, and the complex ways it interacts with the built environment. Our geologists, soil scientists and mining engineers clearly communicate ground risks through our market-leading reports, expert advice and innovative ground risk models.

Terrafirma exist to ensure people and organisations have access to accurate and understandable information on ground hazards, so they can make informed decisions without needing to be ground risk specialists themselves.

  • 2015

    August

    CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse formed Terrafirma with the ambition to educate the conveyancing sector about mining-related ground stability risk.

    August

    Tom Backhouse formed Terrafirma with the ambition to educate the conveyancing sector about mining-related ground stability risk.

  • 2016

    January

    Tom reaches out to local universities and Terrafirma works with numerous student interns from the University of Bristol’s Earth Sciences department.

    July

    The TerraSearch suite of searches was launched, bringing Assure, Assess and Action to the market.

    January

    Tom reaches out to local universities and Terrafirma works with numerous student interns from the University of Bristol’s Earth Sciences department.

    July

    The TerraSearch suite of searches was launched, bringing Assure, Assess and Action to the market.

  • 2017

    February

    Terrafirma launch regulated coal reports utilising licensed coal data and expert opinion.

    July

    Tom received a special ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2017 for his contributions to risk assessment in the conveyancing process. The team grows and moves to into offices at Aztec West, Bristol.

    May

    Terrafirma COO, Danny Powell-Thomas, presents his master’s research on desk-based mining risk assessment at the inaugural Geologist’s Association Student Symposium.

    September

    Tom stars in Season 1 of Sinkholes on Channel 5, a documentary exploring how the hazard impacts the UK.

    February

    Terrafirma launch regulated coal reports utilising licensed coal data and expert opinion.

    May

    Terrafirma COO, Danny Powell-Thomas, presents his master’s research on desk-based mining risk assessment at the inaugural Geologist’s Association Student Symposium.

    July

    CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse received a special ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2017 for his contributions to risk assessment in the conveyancing process. The team grows and moves to into offices at Aztec West, Bristol.

    September

    Terrafirma CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse stars in Season 1 of Sinkholes on Channel 5, a documentary exploring how the hazard impacts the UK.

  • 2018

    June

    Terrafirma become Executive Member of CoPSO (Council of Property Search Organisations) to help set and improve industry standards.

    August

    A second series of Sinkholes is broadcast with Tom starring yet again.

    November

    Terrafirma are ‘Highly Commended’ for Innovation at the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards for producing the first commercial CON29M, reducing liabilities for lenders and conveyancers alike.

    July

    Terrafirma becomes the first commercial organisation to be licensed by The Law Society to produce the official CON29M report.

    September

    Terrafirma launch the Ground Report, a flagship report aimed at providing expert opinion on all types of ground hazard.

    June

    Terrafirma become Executive Member of CoPSO (Council of Property Search Organisations) to help set and improve industry standards.

    July

    Terrafirma becomes the first commercial organisation to be licensed by The Law Society to produce the official CON29M report.

    August

    A second series of Sinkholes is broadcast, with Terrafirma’s CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse, starring yet again.

    September

    Terrafirma launch the Ground Report, a flagship report aimed at providing expert opinion on all types of ground hazard.

    November

    Terrafirma are ‘Highly Commended’ for Innovation at the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards for producing the first commercial CON29M, reducing liabilities for lenders and conveyancers alike.

  • 2019

    March

    Terrafirma host first Advisory Panel meeting - a team of experienced professionals across legal due diligence, geology and mining to explore new ideas and current challenges.

    May

    Tom features on BBC’s The One Show, explaining sinkholes in the UK, their impacts and links to a changing climate.

    October

    Launch of the inaugural application of the National Ground Risk Model.

    April

    Terrafirma expands its Executive, Development and Marketing team and establishes the GeoData division. Terrafirma welcome Chris Milne as Technical Director to the team to bolster the company’s geological and engineering expertise.

    September

    Terrafirma appoint renowned commercial and legal data expert Lucy Oxer as Chief Data Officer.

    March

    Terrafirma host first Advisory Panel meeting - a team of experienced professionals across legal due diligence, geology and mining to explore new ideas and current challenges.

    April

    Terrafirma expands its Executive, Development and Marketing team and establishes the GeoData division. Terrafirma welcome Chris Milne as Technical Director to the team to bolster the company’s geological and engineering expertise.

    May

    Terrafirma CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse features on BBC’s The One Show, explaining sinkholes in the UK, their impacts and links to a changing climate.

    September

    Terrafirma appoint renowned commercial and legal data expert Lucy Oxer as Chief Data Officer.

    October

    Launch of the inaugural application of the National Ground Risk Model.

  • 2020

    January

    Terrafirma appoint Dr Tim Farewell as Science and Communications Director who joins from Cranfield University with a wealth of experience in environmental data science.

    January

    Terrafirma appoint Dr Tim Farewell as Science and Communications Director who joins us from Cranfield University with a wealth of experience in environmental data science.

Meet the Team

Tom Backhouse

CEO and Founder

Danny Powell-Thomas

Operations Director

Lucy Oxer

Legal and Data Director

Dr Tim Farewell

Science and Communications Director

Chris Milne

Technical Director

Maura Partridge

Head of Searches

Tim Longden

Account Manager

Ben Magnin

Head of Research and Development

Robin Morris

Head of Software Development

Theodore Faull

Head of GIS and Data

Edward Ramstedt

Business Development Manager

Victoria Stinchcombe

Marketing Coordinator

Luke Parsons

Key Account Manager

Robert Waggett

Software Developer

Dan Berriman

Non-Executive Director

Nina Prior

Product Manager

Charlie Coleman

Geologist

Join the Team

We welcome expressions of interest from bright individuals who would like to join our team, and regularly offer work experience and internships.

News and Press Releases

Terrafirma Launches First Ever Climate-Focused Ground Risk Assessment

Terrafirma, the leading experts in ground risk assessment, today launches the National Ground Risk Model (NGRM): Climate™. This provides lenders with an expertly modelled, ground...

Terrafirma Win Innovation Award at Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards

The recent update to Terrafirma’s Ground Report has brought conveyancers and homebuyers risk assessment on coastal hazards, including information on flooding and erosion, prior to...

Risk to Coastal Properties Now Assessed in Terrafirma's Ground Report

If you’ve ever transacted on coastal properties, you may be aware that no conveyancing search report exists that assesses the risk to property and land from coastal hazards. The...

Terrafirma Introduce First Coastal Hazards Risk Assessment in Conveyancing

From the 14th September 2020, the Terrafirma Ground Report will include the first comprehensive, property-specific assessment of risk from coastal hazards, supported by expert...

Memberships and Accreditations