The effects of flooding on property are not always immediately apparent. What should property owners look out for, and how can chartered surveyors help?
A flood can threaten your safety, cause serious damage to your property and its relocation contents and can result in many months of and disruption.
Unfortunately, we are all used to seeing spectacular photographs of streets flooded with water where the water level has risen to half the height of the front door.
What is the risk to property from flooding?
A property can be flooded by:
- Surface water flooding during heavy rain
- Groundwater flooding
- River flooding
- Coastal flooding
- A burst water main in the road outside the property
- Ab burst water tank, water supply pipe, radiator, or drain within the building
- Reservoir or dam failure
So once the water has receded, what are the less obvious areas of potential damage to bear in mind?
Where to check
Walls: Where walls have become saturated, it is necessary to remove the plaster, because this will contain the damp, salts and chemicals, such that they will prevent the wall from drying out. The wall may take many months to dry out and this will depend on its thickness and construction.
Insulation: It should be noted that any insulation within the cavity may have slumped as a result of becoming saturated, and it may be necessary for this to be removed and replaced to restore the original insulation levels.
Timber joinery: Old walls frequently had timbers built within the thickness to provide fixings for subsequent joinery, such as dado rails or skirtings. It may be necessary to have these removed where the walls have become totally saturated and the condition, at the rear face of the timber, will not be apparent from the front.
Floor voids: The extent of any flooding may not always be apparent if it has risen up through the ground and has entered an under floor void but not appeared above the floor board. In this case, damage may well be caused to timbers below floor level, or to electrical services run over the floor slab.
How will the flood risk affect the value and insurability of my property?
The value of a property at risk from flood is less than that of a similar property that isn’t at risk. Flood risk will affect the value for two reasons.
First is the impact of a flood on the continued use of the premises, the health and safety of the occupants and any consequential damage and disruption.
The second is obtaining building insurance cover for the property. If it is difficult to arrange cover it will affect the ability to arrange a mortgage for the property. As building insurance is so important in determining whether a property is mortgageable and therefore the market value of the property, owners and prospective purchasers are advised to verify this cover is provided and maintained by determining the property’s flood risk.
The reduction in value may range from negligible to severe, depending on the particular circumstances of the property’s location, situation, type of construction, and flood defences, both to the geographic area and to the property in particular. The impact on value can be reduced by ensuring better flood defences are in place and by increasing the flood resilience of the property and its contents.
The role of a chartered surveyor
You will need specialist professional advice to ensure not only the effectiveness of any flood resistance or resilience measure you put in place, but also to ensure the work is appropriately specified and properly executed.
A chartered surveyor with experience in providing flooding related services and advice will be able to organise all aspects of flood defence, from providing advice on flood risk to recommending appropriate solutions, arranging and supervising any required works, managing insurance claims and providing reports and documentations for insurers or mortgage lenders.
Download our free guide to flooding
Our free consumer guide tells you what you need to know about flooding and flood risk to your property - the land and the buildings on it - and how you can deal with this risk.