Buying a “Flood Proof House”? Understand What That Really Means
It’s understandable to be cautious about buying a flood proof house in Brisbane. The first part of 2022 has seen severe weather events causing record-breaking floods in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
The Insurance Council of Australia advised the February and March weather events are “estimated to be Australia’s costliest flood ever.” And Queensland is predicted to have an even wetter summer for 2023 if detailed weather projections are to take effect.
A flood proof house sounds like it should be a top-of-the-list feature for prospective home buyers in Brisbane. But is it simply a marketing ploy for the unsuspecting buyer? Is a house in a flood zone able to withstand being flooded? Let’s explore the terminology around resilient homes built in areas susceptible to flooding.
What does “flood proof house” really mean?
A flood proof house can take on various meanings in a real estate listing. It can be one or a combination of the following:
- an honest disclosure the house you’re buying is not in an area which can flood
- the house has not been affected by flooding during previous events despite being in a flood zone
- a description to reassure buyers their potential new home has features which will enable the home to withstand flooding events when they occur.
A flood proof house is well worth investigating further. A pre-purchase building inspection can certainly identify improvements to a dwelling that may protect the property from an extreme event, but even a building inspector can’t guarantee a flood proof house.
Typical features of a flood proof home
A house in a flood zone will typically be set on stumps above the flood level of the area. These are known as high-set or medium-set homes. The building elevation allows water to rush under the house, keeping the main living structure protected from the inundation of flood waters.
For low-set houses with a slab on ground, materials are selectively chosen which can withstand mud and silt. Floor and wall coverings are of materials that can be easily pressure cleaned. Skirtings and architraves won’t be your typical pine materials which will swell when in contact with moisture. Cement sheeting and water-resistant flooring ensure easy cleaning if a home is infiltrated with black water, typical in a flood event.
Houses in the flood zone
If you buy a house in a flood zone, it’s important to understand how resilient the building structure will be in a flood.
The four common approaches to houses in flood zones are:
- flood resistant (dammed)
- raised floor
- flood resilient
- a combination of raised and resilient.
While a raised house and flood-resistant materials can be used to protect a home in a flood zone, they won’t necessarily flood proof a home. They will simply offer the best protection to the structure of the home should a flood occur.
Unfortunately no one can predict how the water will flow in and around your suburb. Checking for flood damage to a home can certainly indicate to a prospective new owner that there are possible investments needed to protect the dwelling further.
Action Property Inspections are one of Brisbane’s most experienced pre-purchase building inspectors. It’s a no brainer to ensure a building inspection takes place before you invest in a home built in a flood zone. The peace of mind offered in a report can assist in decisions to protect your home further from future flood events.