Depending on what part of the country you own a property in, the more at risk you are when it comes to flooding. Places like Cumbria and North Yorkshire have had awful floods in rainy times for a long time. Venturing down south in the UK, you are at less of a risk but there still exists the risk you could be affected by flooding, so it is always best to be safe rather than sorry.
According to official statistics, over 5 million homes are at risk of flooding across the UK. With this figure in mind, it is vital that homeowners are well informed about how they can work to reduce the risk of their property flooding or what to do if their property does flood beyond their control.
Also, with the risk that without the right protection against flooding, lenders are unlikely to provide finance, be it a first or second charge mortgage, with the risks of damage to the property otherwise far too high for them to lend large amounts. As part of the underwriting and due diligence process when applying for a mortgage, if your property is at too high a risk of flooding and water damage, the lender may well reject the application (more information about the process).
It was recently revealed that the UK government has established a plan for the potential of 20 to 30 per cent more extreme downpours than it has ever experienced before. This is following the criticism received for its response to flooding across the country over the past few years.
Thus, it is clear that the government is excepting more flooding to take place across the UK and so it is vital that we protect domestic dwellings, businesses and places of work. Flooding can cause some very serious damage to property and the contents, resulting in months or even years of disruption.
Flood Warnings in the UK
If you live in a high-risk area, there are a number of things you can do before a flood hits, including:
- Registering with Floodline. You can do this by visiting their website or by calling them on 0345 988 1188. This is a government run system which will notify you when there is a flood risk in your area
- Be sure that you have insurance which covers flooding and water damage. It should also cover the costs associated with drying out, temporary housing, restoration and professional fees (such as solicitors and surveyors)
- Keep your important items and possessions which hold sentimental value upstairs to reduce the chance that they get damage if the worst should occur. This may include things like your insurance documents, passports, photos and medicines
- If you do live in a flood risk area, you should keep in mind that this is the case when you are doing any renovations on your home by adding waterproof coating to the walls and the sideboards and so on, opt for tiled floors rather than carpets downstairs, install power sockets and other electrics at least 1.5m above floor level, add flood guards and ensure sufficient ventilation bricks have covers, landscape your garden to direct water away for your property, ask a plumber to fit a backflow prevention valve in order to prevent sewage back up membranes (source: RJ Acoustics)
- You could consider investing in a sump pump which is not battery operated, emergency sandbags and flood boards which can be fitted on the outside of the windows and doors if a flood should occur
The Environment Agency operates a very detailed flood map which you can be sure to keep an eye on. This will display the latest flood warnings as well as the level of flood risk in your area. Furthermore, Friends of the Earth offers another easy-to-use flood map. Either of these can really help you in better planning floods before they occur
Following a Warning That Flooding is Expected
Once you have been informed that a flood is likely to hit, there are some further measures that you can take to help prevent any extensive damage happening to your property:
- Turn off your electricity, water mains and gas. You need to be sure that you know how to do this quickly so that you remain calm when a flood is likely
- You can put sandbags outside of your property to help to create a sort of barrier between the flood and your home
- Put plugs in the sinks and baths and weigh them down with sandbags where possible. Remember to also plug any other water inlets such as overflows, taps and toilets. This is especially pressing if your pipes don’t have ‘no-return’ valves
- Move any electronics, rugs or any other expensive and important items upstairs
- You can always ask someone for help if you need assistance in preparing for a flood following an alert
Investing in temporary flood protection equipment could save you a lot of heartache and money. You may never actually need it, but this sort of equipment such as sandbags and flood boards can potentially one day work to save your property. It must be said that sandbags are often provided by local councils. However, in high risk areas, they often run out if you are not quick enough. Therefore, it may be wise to just have some of your own to hand just in case.