With the recent devastating floods we have experience in many areas of the UK, should we still be building houses in flood risk areas. We all know there is a huge need for new homes in the UK, but do we really need to be building in these areas. Often these areas are in a beautiful location and the type of property built will be in the high end of the market. Do we really need more 500,000 plus homes?
Building Houses in Flood Risk Areas
***UPDATE*** This article was written about the floods that occurred in Somerset in feb 2014 – Now we have the dreadful flooding in areas of York and Cumbria. No lessons learned?
What is required in this country is affordable housing and this can normally only be achieved by building large numbers of homes. This can only be achieved by building multiple dwelling sites, often in their hundreds. The question is; were do we build these homes and will the infrastructure to avoid flooding be put in place by the construction companies.
There is already a lot of legislation in place to try and mitigate some of the risks, surely if there is a known risk to property, then we should not be building in these locations. The government cannot deal with the flooding problems we have now, just adding to this problem is surely madness.
We should also be thinking about the methods we use for the construction of properties. Can we build affordable housing and install all the methods of construction that are known when building houses in flood risk areas to help prevent damage to the property. The housing companies will say the government should help pay for this, i say; pay for it yourself out of the huge profits you make or don’t build in high risk flood areas.
We have all seen in the news, the horror stories that families are living in at the moment, especially in the Somerset Levels (Now in the north of England). Even with all the resources this government has to hand, they still cannot alleviate the misery of these home owners.
Home owners in these areas are literally stranded on islands, special arrangements have had to be made to bring food into these areas and temporary elevated roads, built by Army Engineers. Imagine the risk to human health with all the sewerage systems that have been immersed in water for over a month, let alone the consequences for the emergency services if there is a crisis in a flooded area.
Preventing damage to your property
Those who have lived through the nightmare of having their home flooded will know that is not a lot we can do once the water levels have risen above a critical level, but there are a few things we can do for the future to minimize the affects if you are flooded.
In known flood risk areas that already have properties there are things that can be done to alleviate the the damage caused. If you have been warned by the forecasters of the possibility of flooding in your area, there are a few things you can do to help minimize damage to your property
- Make sure all your main drains, gutters and down pipes are working correctly and are clear of all blockages.
- Make sure any electrical equipment is removed to a higher level in your property
- Remove any carpets and furniture to a higher level in your property
- Make sure you know were your electricity and gas supply can be switched off. If you have any doubt about this, then contact a local professional to come and advise you about this.
- Make sure you have all your documents safely placed and any medication you may need.
- Make sure you have an evacuation plan if you need to leave.
If you do live in a flood risk area then there are things you can do for the future that can really minimize the damage caused.
- Consult a local drainage expert and ask if things like back flow valves can be installed to prevent sewerage coming back into your property.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance.
- Consult a local electrician to see if your power sockets can be raised above the known levels of flooding.
- Make sure your outside pathing levels are all falling away from the property.
- Consider adding waterproof membranes.
- Make sure your fuel tanks are bolted down to a permanent base to prevent them floating and causing damage to any flow pipes.
- Make sure all pipes that are coming through your exterior walls are properly sealed.
Preventing damage to your property can be very difficult once the flood hits, minimizing the damage is crucial on a financial level is an absolute must. These prevention methods can be very expensive and often a futile exercise, but we have too try.
Surely the secret to this is to look at attitude to building on these flood plains, you may live in a new property that has proper flood prevention methods in place, but are we just moving the water to the next location. I would never consider buying a property if there is any risk of flooding and how these housing companies persuade people to buy their houses is a mystery to me.