When choosing a house to live in, we can be governed by our heart. It’s not uncommon to be attracted to a particular suburb or area and become set on living there. And it’s unrealistic to expect no one to live in flood zones – Brisbane is known for them. But it’s important to read the history of the area and to consider the impact to your finances and family if your home was to flood. Understanding this history can help you make an informed choice before you make such a significant purchase.
If you’re buying in a Brisbane Flood Zone, the decision can’t be taken lightly as it can have personal and financial impacts should your home be flooded again.
Here is what you need to know about buying a home in a Brisbane Flood Zone.
Brisbane Flood Zone History
The January 2011, the Brisbane floods took many residents by surprise. The sheer amount of water that overflowed from the Brisbane River, and inundated houses in low lying areas as well as areas that hadn’t previously flooded in the 1974 floods, was devastating. The change in infrastructure from 1974 meant it directed the water to suburbs that hadn’t previously been considered a flood zone. The overflow of storm water drains meant houses that weren’t in the path of the flood zone, still got flooded due to the surplus of water that needed to go somewhere. As a result of the 2011 floods, the flood zone maps were updated by the Brisbane City Council to allow residents to make an informed choice when purchasing a new property.
Is my home in a flood zone?
Most houses in a high risk flood zone are usually near water like rivers, creeks or the ocean but this is not the only way to find out your area’s flood status. FloodWise Property Reports from Brisbane City Council show both types and risks of flooding and identify risk levels in properties across the area.
Why does Brisbane flood?
The Brisbane area sits on a flood plain and several suburbs actually sit in low lying areas which means flooding is possible. FloodWise Property Reports now also reflect the risk of flooding from nearby creeks not just the Brisbane River areas.
Do realtors advise if property is in a flood zone?
Unfortunately, real estate agents are under no legal obligation to advise flood risks in property sales. However, there is so much information is available online, both environmental and financial, you can always find out the suburb history before purchasing a new home.
What to check before buying in a flood zone area
- What level of damage was caused to the property in the last flood?
- Was the property damage caused by river or storm water flooding?
- How much effect has the flooding had on insurance costs?
- Has the property been rebuilt in any way after the floods?
Where are the major flood areas in Brisbane?
Despite the storm water upgrades and new processes put into place for water releases from Wivenhoe Dam, if Brisbane were to experience another severe wet weather event, there can be no guarantees that Brisbane won’t experience another flood again. Our climate is changing and with the damage caused by Cyclone Debbie in March 2016, no one can control how a severe weather event will cause havoc to the land it sets down on. But history gives us an idea of which areas are vulnerable to experiencing a flood and this is what makes the Brisbane Flood Zone maps a valuable tool when purchasing a property.
The major flood areas in Brisbane are those suburbs that reside next to the Brisbane River, a creek or are in a low lying area. Here is a list of the major suburbs in Brisbane that flood:
• Acacia Ridge
• Bowen Hills
• Brisbane City
• Chapel Hill
• Coopers Plains
• Dutton Park
• East Brisbane
• Fig Tree Pocket
• Fortitude Valley
• Highgate Hill
• Jamboree Heights
• Kangaroo Point
• Karana Downs
• Kelvin Grove
• Kenmore Hills
• Middle Park
• Mount Ommaney
• New Farm
• Norman Park
• Pinjarra Hills
• Seventeen Mile Rocks
• Sinnamon Park
• South Brisbane
• St Lucia
• West End
How do floods damage your home?
When flood waters enter your home, the water itself can damage all parts of your home. Flood waters often carry contaminants like mud and waste which can leave a trail of mud behind in the home when the water recedes. Often a putrid smell from the leftover mud and contaminants requires a full hose down of all surfaces inside the home. In most cases, houses that have been flooded need to have the internal walls and floors gutted. Carpets will need to be removed (including the underlays), plasterboard demolished and removed – even the timber frames, doors and all cabinetry in the kitchens and bathrooms. If a claim is made to insurance, the assessor will advise on inspections and tests that need to be done before the house can be rebuilt again. In some cases, the house may not be rebuilt if it has been washed away.
For homes that haven’t fully gone under, they may not require a lot of work to get them inhabitable again. However, beware if a flooded house has been cosmetically renovated. The renovations could cover over future mould and mildew problems that can have severe health ramifications for those living in the property.
Floods also damage electrical and plumbing services in the property. Hot water units may need to be serviced or fully replaced depending on whether they have been fully immersed in water. In some parts of Indooroopilly, the flood waters from the 2011 floods knocked over hot water units, but when tested, they could still be reused.
Buying a House in flood zones, Brisbane
If you decide to purchase a house in a Brisbane Flood Zone, it is so important to organise a house inspection. Your building inspector will look for key damage areas that should have been rectified if the house was previously flooded. Action Property Inspections have over 20 years’ experience inspecting homes in Brisbane. We make a thorough inspection on all properties, but flood zone properties get extra attention to ensure the property is going to be a good purchase for the new buyer.
Financial Costs when purchasing a home in a Brisbane Flood Zone
Before you make your final offer on a home in a Brisbane Flood Zone, you may want to call at least three insurance companies to get an idea of the cost involved with insuring the property. Homes that have a history of flooding and have had a previous owner make claims in the past will have a higher premium than homes that haven’t flooded. Even if you as the potential new owner haven’t made any insurance claims, your potential new house purchase is a risk to flooding and the insurance premium will reflect this.