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Understanding flood risk: a guide for house hunters

If you’re in the market for a new home, you’ve probably given some thought to the location. After all, a lot of what you’re paying for is the plot that your house stands on – ultimately, you can change the building quite significantly if you have the time and the cash, but you can’t move it.

You may have considered where your house is in comparison to local amenities and schools, where the sun lands and traffic, but have you considered the risk of flooding? Especially when viewing properties on dry days, it’s easy to overlook this significant factor, but it soon becomes critical when you find yourself in the middle of a wet winter.

Flooding can happen anywhere, but some areas are more prone to it than others. That’s why it’s important to understand your flood risk before you buy a house. Here, we discuss the types of flooding, your risk level, and how you can take steps to protect your property if you are affected by floods.

Types of flooding

There are several types of flooding, and knowing the difference can help you look for risk factors when you’re house hunting. They are:

● Coastal flooding, where sea water comes across land on the coastline
● River flooding, where rivers burst their banks
● Flash flooding, due to heavy rainfall
● Groundwater flooding, where water comes up from the ground and cannot soak away
● Sewer flooding, where sewer drainage gets blocked

What affects your flood risk level?

There are several factors that affect your flood risk. The first is the location of your home. If you live in a low-lying area, near a river or stream, or in a coastal area, your risk is higher.

Another factor is the type of construction of your home. If your home has a basement or is built on piles, it’s more likely to be damaged by flooding. You can also look at the garden – does the land angle towards the property, or away? If it’s towards the house, you might find that any ground water runs towards your back door.

Finally, if your home is in an area that has experienced repeated flooding in the past, your risk is also higher. If you want to find out this information, or check out an area when you’re buying a house, you can use the government’s online search tool. You can also ask the current owners. Although this might be a seemingly difficult question, they may be willing to tell you key information such as if it’s flooded before, how bad it was, and any measures they currently take to reduce the risk.

How can you reduce your risk of flooding if you’ve found your dream house?

Often, house hunters fall in love with a property, only to find that there is in fact an issue with it that they can’t fix. If this is the case for you, it’s really your call whether you want to go ahead and continue with the sale, but it’s important to evaluate what this could mean for your finances, and potentially reflect that in the price. There’s no use looking at it with rose-tinted glasses – making a plan of what you’d need to do if the worst happens can help you decide whether it’s a risk you want to take.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of flooding, or the effect the damage has on your life. The most simple is to purchase flood insurance. This will protect your home and belongings in the event of a flood, and though it won’t help stop the flood from happening, it can be reassuring to know that your possessions would be protected.

You can also take steps to prevent flooding in the first place, such as sandbagging around your home during heavy rains or installing one way valves so that the water can’t flow back into your property. You can also ensure that you fit concrete or lino flooring on the ground floor, so that if the worst does happen, you won’t end up with swollen wooden floors or ruined carpets.

A safer home

Even if you’re planning on moving to a low-risk area, it’s important to remember that flooding can happen anywhere.. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for any circumstance. This guide will help you do just that. By understanding the factors that affect your risk and taking steps to reduce it, you can help keep your home and belongings safe from harm during a flood.