Is Your Home at Risk of Flood?

Is Your Home at Risk of Flood?
  • Opening Intro -

    In the past, engineers, surveyors and geographers would probably be the only specialists interested in flood hazard management, but now, flood inundation and erosion models have become important documents for anyone considering buying a house in the UK.

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Rising sea levels, more severe climatic changes and the pressure to find new building land, means that potential flood risks are actually becoming a certainty in some areas, meaning that home owners need to know all the facts.

Co-operative house insurance group suggests the most important research you can undertake, when considering whether to buy a home, or in deciding whether your current home may be at risk of flood, is to check the following:

Is Your Home on a Flood Plain?

First of all, establish whether your property is situated on a known flood plain. In the UK, the Environment Agency has produced flood maps which distinguish high-risk areas in dark blue. Light blue shows the additional extent of extreme flood conditions. If the area on the map is clear, this demonstrates that there is a less than 0.1 per cent risk of flood. You will be relieved to know that most of England and Wales are categorised within this clear area.

  • Check the main rivers and larger streams that run near your property
  • Check what flood defence schemes are in place in your area. Once again, the Environment Agency Office in your vicinity will be able to furnish you with further details.
  • Look at your local area archives and see what has happened historically. This can be easily searched in local newspapers, online or in library archives.
  • A flood map will give you a wealth of information which will allow you to assess the likelihood of flood in your property, whilst also including statistics regarding previous floods and the chances of them re-occurring. However, it does not carry information regarding any potential depth of flooding, speed of flow or its possible volume.
  • You cannot find information on a flood map about groundwater, direct runoff from fields, or if there is potential for drains to be blocked. In addition, there are possibilities within light blue zones that flood defences may be breached, or defences deteriorating over time, so it is worth checking the maps for changes.

These maps give insurers some valid data upon which to decide premiums and general risk assessment. Eleven years ago the Association of British Insurers (ABI), alongside the government, made a pledge to offer insurance to properties at risk of inundation. This is called their ABI Statement of Principles.

On looking at these new maps, some people have found their properties on flood plains, even though they have never been flooded. It is worth checking whether there are culverts running beneath your home which you may not be aware of, or whether flood water will naturally be attracted to the contours of the ground. If your property happens to be at a low point, water might naturally collect if it cannot be carried away quickly enough when under pressure from heavy rain or swollen rivers.

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