Are flood-proof homes the answer to our rising water levels?

flooding in leeds

Unless you live on the moon you’ll be probably more than aware of the recent terrible floods to hit the UK, and of course the various soundbites coming from the government and the environment agency telling us they really are going to sort it out this time. Yeah right.

Flooding seems to be far more common than when I was growing up, and far worse than ever before, but some experts are saying that building more flood defences is simply not enough and more needs to be done, but what exactly?

Time and time again local councils approve new housing on flood plains or areas at risk from flood, but is this method of build and then defend, really the answer? Many think not.

You can’t fight mother nature.

If you have ever been caught out in severe weather, you will know mother nature isn’t a very nice woman at all, in fact she’s a right pain, but is is this simply mankind’s abuse of nature coming back to haunt us?

It may be worth noting that we ourselves were also affected by the recent floods which affected, amongst other things, our datacentre in Cumbria, which knocked out much of our companies communication systems, and also our phone line, which was off for a few days.

Even our customers have been affected, in places such as Lancashire, Devon, Cumbria and Yorkshire, so we know only too well how devastating and disruptive floods can be.

What’s the solution to all this flooding then?

I was sat in my lunch break, reading the newspaper, when I came across a very interesting article which quoted an ex-president of the Institute of Civil Engineers who suggested that it would actually be possible and practical to build new homes that are flood resistant.

yealmpton floods

Yealmpton floods 2012, when the river Yealm burst it’s banks. Devon.

He noted that whilst it is more important than ever before, to protect people, and homes, from flooding, he argued that most homes in the UK are not floodproof at all, hence the damage we have seen over the past few weeks.

He noted that water always finds a way into a property if there is a flood, and it can come up through air vents and air bricks in the lower wall, up through floorboards and depending on the severity, also water can back up through your drains and your loo.

He also noted that floodwater can saturate walls, both internally and outside, and simply having a waterproof wall coating on the exterior of your home could actually stop water seeping into the walls, saving costly renovations over time. A waterproof wall coating isn’t as expensive as you may think, however it won’t stop the advance of the water but may help afterwards.

The householders we saw on TV over Christmas, with their “Floodgate” barriers (the blue plastic squares that slot into the doorway), bravely trying to save their house were soon enough flooded anyway as the water rose upwards through the floors so a fat lot of good they were.

Recommendations for a flood-proof house.

  • New homes should NOT be built on flood plains.
  • New houses should be built at a higher level above the road than is the case now.
  • Driveways, patios and paved areas should have a permeable drainage solution.
  • Plug sockets should be installed at least 4 to 5 feet off the ground, NOT by the skirting board.
  • A solid floor rather than wooden floorboards with a void underneath would stop water rising from the ground and into the house.
  • No air vents or air bricks should be at a low level outside.
  • Doors and windows should be watertight
  • Walls should be non-porous, either with the addition of a wall coating, or a prefabricated waterproof surface.
  • Homes deemed at risk from floods should always have a “flood action plan” so they know what to do if it happens, or happens again in some cases.

Is it just a new approach to construction that is needed or……….?

Well it’s not just putting into action the points above, it’s also working with nature to ensure when and if a flood occurs, water can be drained or re-routed away quickly, to restore the balance.

Many people enjoy living in coastal or riverside locations and few can argue the natural beauty but surely erecting taller and bigger flood defences could become a blot on the landscape?

flooded road UK

Some home owners than have been flooded time and time again have elected to have their homes raised a metre above where the home sits now. This is a VERY expensive process involving all manner of things, not forgetting new foundations, so this sort of approach is usually only restricted to those with plenty money in the bank.

A new approach to deal with floods is now needed more than ever.

The government has an urgent need to build new homes, to house an ever growing population, let’s just hope they don’t build them on flood plains again eh?

More thought needs to go into the proper management of rivers and waterways, including ditching the laws the EU passed to us without asking in 2000, meaning rivers weren’t dredged in case it harmed wildlife. Well, we can see the effect of yet another stupid EU law in the recent floods.

Houses need to be built in a different way and using different construction methods. When housing estates are built, more thought needs to go into drainage. A case of joined up thinking is needed to avert more flooding in the future.


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