Posts with tag: flooding

‘New approach’ to construction on floodplains needed

Published On: February 9, 2016 at 12:55 pm

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With the UK being battered by storm Imogen and with the bad weather showing no signs of abating, a land agent has called for a different approach to construction of homes.

Aston Mead believes that a change in approach is required if Britain is to continue to construct properties on flood plains.

Flooding

Almost 10,000 homes a year are built on floodplains in the UK, with an average of one in fourteen homes constructed on land with a significant threat of flooding.

‘This country needs to get rid of its sandbag mentality and start building homes which have flood prevention at the core of their construction,’ said Aston Mead Director Richard Watkins. ‘We can’t go on treating flooding as an afterthought. Instead, we should be building properties which are specifically designed to rise and fall with the flood water. The technology is already available out there; all we have to do is make best use of it.’[1]

Watkins believes that homes that are built on top of a pre-cast pontoon, which sits inside an excavated concrete void, are the way forwards. These would be appropriate as when flood water enters the void, the pontoon rises, assisted by vertical rails which can be obscured within walls or chimney breasts.

When flood water levels drop, the house goes back to its original position, with a pump to get rid of any excess water. Access will be available at all times, using an articulated pathway, with services remaining connected through a number of flexible knuckle joints.

‘Completely Scalable’

Mr Watkins feels, ‘this system is completely scalable and designs of properties can range from the very traditional to the highly contemporary, with the footprint of the floating pontoon extending beyond the building itself to include garages, terraces and gardens. The pontoons can also be used as fully habitable basements and there are few limitations to size, design or even the number of storeys that can be added on top. An additional advantage is that as water fills the void, it reduces the amount of flood water passing onto neighbouring properties.’[1]

'New approach' to construction on floodplains needed

‘New approach’ to construction on floodplains needed

‘These buildings can be mortgaged on standard terms by most high-street lenders and they also qualify for standard household insurance-despite being on the floodplain. What’s more, if they are also fitted with grey water recycling and photo-voltaic panels, they can remain fully functional safe havens-even in the worst flooding conditions,’ he added.[1]

Record

The most recent Met Office figures suggest that December 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded in the UK, with almost twice the amount of the typical expected rainfall.

As a result, Watkins notes that, ‘resorting to a supply of sandbags in the garage just in case is no longer good enough. We can’t continue fighting floods forever. Rain will always fall and water will always rise. And with annual rainfall set to continue to rise, even areas not currently at risk may become vulnerable to flooding in the future.’[1]

‘These new construction methods mean that we can help develop floodplain sites, in the certain knowledge that future owners won’t experience the sort of devastation from flooding that we’ve already seen across the country this Winter,’ he concluded.[1]

[1] http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/property/building-homes-which-rise-with-flood-water.html

 

Insuring Your Flood Risk Property

Published On: December 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm

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Categories: Landlord News

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After the recent extreme weather in northern England, many property owners will be worried about their insurance – how high will my premium be? Will I even get a policy?

But don’t fear. This guide should help you understand how you can sufficiently insure your property.

The risk

About 5m homes, or a sixth of all properties in England, are considered to be at a higher than normal risk of flooding. However, only around half are at risk from rivers or the sea. Rising groundwater, sewer problems and flash flooding could hit the rest.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) found that just 55% of those living in flood risk areas are aware that their properties are at risk.

Check your property’s risk of flooding at Checkmyfloodrisk.co.uk

Insurance costs

When looking into a home insurance policy, one of the first questions you will be asked is, “Has your home ever flooded?” If you answer yes, you will be asked a lot more questions, your premium will be significantly higher or you may be refused.

Insuring Your Flood Risk Property

Insuring Your Flood Risk Property

Under the terms of an agreement with the Government, insurers should continue covering their existing customers. However, they are free to raise premiums or set extremely high excesses for flooding claims, meaning that many homes remain uninsured. If property owners wish to move to a new insurer, they could be declined altogether.

If you are moving to a high-risk area, it is likely that you will not be offered affordable flooding cover. However, from next year, a new scheme could help you (see next section).

It is definitely worth using a specialist insurance broker or comparing policies yourself – some insurers will calculate the risk better than others. If you have not had any previous flooding incidents, cover should be included in a standard domestic policy.

Most buildings policies will pay to return the property to a habitable condition and for alternative accommodation while work is being completed, which can last nine months or longer.

Contents policies will often replace old items for new up to the maximum payout limit, but not all cover this, so check before you buy.

Flood Re

From April 2016, a new scheme will help alleviate the costs of sky-high insurance. Flood Re will help individual insurers share the flood risk element of a buildings and contents policy; the scheme will pay out future claims for flooding. The initiative is aimed at helping the estimated 350,000 households at significant flood risk who struggle to access affordable insurance.

Under the scheme, there are maximum charges in place that the insurer will ask the consumer to pay for the flood risk component of the policy. This is set by Council tax bands, starting at £210 per year for homes in bands A and B and up to £1,200 a year for band H. This applies to both buildings and contents cover. Consumers buying just one of these will pay less, but this is just for the flood element – the total premium will be higher.

A homeowner in band D will pay £168 to Flood Re for buildings cover, or £108 for contents-only. This may sound like a lot, but will be a huge saving for those in high-risk areas.

Consumers will not have to work out the deal themselves – their insurer will offer them a single premium and the premium will be paid to the scheme. Claims will be handled similarly as they are now, by the insurer.

It is unknown how the scheme will be able to deal with a catastrophic event, but it will help at-risk households access the cover they need at a better price.

Companies and retailers in recently affected areas are not happy that Flood Re does not include business cover.

Buying a property

If you are buying an existing home, the vendor must tell you about any significant flooding incidents when they complete the Law Society’s property information form for conveyancing. Any issues will become clear when you apply for a mortgage, as banks won’t lend money on a home likely to be destroyed by a major flooding event.

The ABI reports that around 20,000 homes are built in flood risk areas every year, including 4,000 in significant risk spots. This is part of the reason the Government has been developing the Flood Re scheme, to ensure there is cover in future.

When the worst happens

Some people that have been hit by serious flooding have compared the experience to a death in the family. They also warn of the difficulty in finding rental accommodation in the days afterwards. If the worst happens to you, the first thing you should do is get on the phone to letting agents – the best rental homes soon go.

After the summer floods of 2007, 2,400 people in Humberside spent months living in caravans, as there was nowhere else to go. However, a caravan could be a good idea. Some residents of Carlisle lived in caravans parked on their drives. This meant that they were around to help the builders when their homes were being rebuilt.

Also be aware that you may not have to throw out as much as you think – furniture may not have been contaminated and can be restored.

The outcome of your insurance claim also seems to depend on the quality of the loss adjustor appointed. In some cases, victims have had to find their own in order to receive fair treatment.

And remember, it is possible to flood-proof your home – install solid flooring and electrical wiring halfway up the wall, which will make a huge difference to rebuilding your property if it is hit.

Flood risk information should be included in sales material

Published On: December 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

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Categories: Property News

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Winter is here and with bad weather on the horizon, a new survey suggests that people looking to buy a home in the UK should be given more information on the property’s flood risk.

Lighting

The investigation, conducted by the Association of British Insurer, found that 90% of people believe more flood risk information should be included on material about properties up for sale.

Presently, no property search websites have this type of information for the location of properties that they list. This is despite including features such as school catchment areas. Additionally, the ABI notes that there is no flood risk information included in the details of new build properties.

As such, the association has calling for agents and property search websites to provide traffic light style information which indicates the risk for the areas of homes that they list. This information, according to the association, should be based on publicly accessible Environment Agency data.

Guide

The Association has also called for solicitors and conveyancers to follow the Law Society’s guidance to conduct exact searches for flood risk. In addition, it feels that they should arrange for a detailed assessment by a technical expert if a flood risk is found to be present.

What’s more, the ABI is publishing a new house hunters’ guide, to assist people of the measures that they should take in order to stay up to date with flood risks on properties that they are looking to buy.

‘Flooding can ruin a home, destroying valuable possessions and often force you to move out while repairs are made,’ said ABI director general, Huw Evans. ‘A higher risk of flooding also tends to mean higher insurance premiums.’[1]

‘With one in six homes at risk of flooding, we need to make thinking about flood risk as much part of the home buying process as school catchment areas and transport links, ‘Evans continued. ‘At the moment, information on whether a property is at risk of flooding comes too late, often when people have already invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds in the conveyancing process.’[1]

‘That’s why we are calling for those who sell properties to include new traffic light warnings on flood risk in a property’s area. You can currently get more information about what paper your new neighbours might read than if a particular property might be at flood risk!’[1]

Flood risk information should be included in sales material

Flood risk information should be included in sales material

Opening the flood gates

Mr Evans went on to say that, ‘these simple warnings will help people go into the home buying process with their eyes open and knowing whether further investigations are necessary. We now want to work with estate agents, property websites and the Environment Agency to make this happen.’[1]

Encouragingly, Floods Minister Rory Stewart stated that more information is being made available. He said that, ‘flooding can devastate lives, homes and businesses. It is important that everyone has access to the right information, including the flood risk in their area, so they can make fully informed decisions when buying a home.’[1]

‘We are making more data and technology available to help people plan and prepare for potential floods, such as the Environment’s Agency’s free Flood Warnings Service and our advanced flood mapping and forecasting,’ he added.[1]

[1] http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/uk-homes-flood-data-2015110211156.html