The impact of heavy rains and its subsequent flooding can be devastating to human life and property.
With climate change, flood disasters have now become common more than ever. This is why it is wise to factor in the location and the type of house when buying. But what if the location where your house is sitting in had been flooded in recent years?
It could turn out to be more expensive to relocate than to rebuild to make your home flood-proof. Australia has a recurring problem with flooding because people are still building in the path of floods and population growth continues unabated in low-lying floodplains.
Houses for flood-prone areas
Homeowners living in flood zone can either flood-proof their homes or build their properties high on stilts or stumps.
Many houses across Australia – from colonial homes to Queensland bungalows – are elevated off the ground. There are many practical reasons to build off the ground: to allow houses to be built on uneven or hilly ground and to counter flooding in flood-prone areas.
Houses on stilts were common until 1980s. Thereafter, there was a population boom that prompted for bigger houses. The stilts were removed to build below – additional bedrooms, new living areas, etc. At the same time, climate change happened and the rains seem not so heavy anymore.
Australians forgot that they live in a subtropical climate and that rains and monsoons are part of the landscape. They got used to living in dry conditions that they’d forgotten to build for wet conditions. Buildings, home and shops built close to the ground sprouted and more and more dwellings were being constructed on worst lands.
If you are building a house from scratch, it is worth considering a resilient house design. This requires resilient materials and construction. This type of house can still be occupied during a flood event, when utilities such as water, gas and electricity may be cut off. The house design is conceived to be self-sufficient in electricity, water and food. Food would be the responsibility of the occupants, obviously, but the house itself should be a passive solar design featuring potable water and bottled gas storage facilities.
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Flood-proofing your house
If either elevating your home off the ground or building a flood-resilient house aren’t options you can consider at the moment, you can still do minor works to make your house flood-proof.
Dry flood-proofing: This involves installing floodgates to keep water out of your house. The base of doors and vents in brickwork will be sealed using these removable barriers.
Wet flood-proofing: This method requires allowing water in and out as easily as possible using tiled floors and water-resistant plaster boards. This would be helpful especially during massive floods where walls can be damaged by water buildup.
Buy the right electrical appliances: As much as possible pick electrical appliances that can easily be lifted to higher locations, or can be kept in high locations. For example, choosing a front-loading washing machine over a top-loader as the former can be installed on a shelf.
One major storm, or one major downpour, can easily cause damage to property. And in light of major floodings in Brisbane and other parts of Australia, building or re-building on wet conditions is worthy of a serious consideration.