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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Flooding: implications for the construction industry
Flooding: implications for the construction industry
Following the recent events in the UK and Europe over the last 4 years, the subject of flooding has received much attention as part of the wider discussion into the impact of climate change. The implications for those involved in property and construction are wide and varied. The papers contained in this special issue of the journal serve to demonstrate this well with issues ranging from technical developments and through to legal and financial matters.
Broadbent presents an interesting study towards improving the flood resistance of domestic property, undertaken on behalf of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). It reports the recent development of a kitemark scheme for demountable flood protection products. A range of flood resilient repairs is identified, classified as general items, floors, walls and interiors. These were developed from a rather unusual approach involving a number of experts engaged in a brainstorming process. The paper concludes that while it is important for homeowners to be aware of the options available, each house is different and the selection of the most appropriate choice will depend on a range of factors including the flood risk, frequency and depth of flooding, type of floodwater and the construction and condition of the property.
An investigation into the impact of flooding on residential buyer behaviour is presented by Eves. The paper draws on information collated in the UK and in Australia to provide an interesting international perspective. Issues considered in the paper include how exposure to flood events impacts on residential property markets, buyer behaviour associated with flood prone property and the finance and insurance implications of residential property in flood affected areas. The conclusions reported include that there is a significant correlation between the severity of a flood and a reduction in residential property values. Further, that the decline in residential property values is also linked to the availability of both insurance and finance.
Soetanto and Proverbs report on how the characteristics of a flood impact on the damage caused to domestic properties. The study, is a part of a wider investigation into developing benchmarks for the repair of flood damaged property, presents the views of a large sample of building surveyors collected via a questionnaire survey. Findings reveal that the contaminant content (including sewage and fasciae) and depth of the floodwater to be the most important followed by the time duration and source of the floodwater. Methods currently employed by building surveyors to determine these characteristics are also reported. Some concerns are raised in this regard, since it is suggested that visual inspection alone (as found to be the preferred method) may not be the most reliable indicator and hence the current assessment of flood damage may be prone to subjectivity and variation. The authors of this paper are soon to have a book published entitled “Flood Property Guide”, which reports on the development of the benchmarks mentioned above. The book is very timely given the recent history of flooding and should be of interest to anyone involved in the reinstatement of flood damaged property.
Wordsworth and Bithell present a case study of a recent flood event in Wales, and report on the initial reaction by property owners in the aftermath of a flood and highlight the particular components of buildings most prone to damage. Doors, skirtings, plastering and decorations were found to be most susceptible to damage. The services provided by the insurers were generally found to be well administered and co-ordinated, despite the obvious disruption involved. There were however, concerns raised by the individual owners regards the impact on property values. The authors call upon building surveyors to become more actively involved in the repair of flood damaged property (only two of the ten properties considered engaged in the services of a building surveyor). They call for the development of an agreed methodology and guidance in bringing this area of work within the remit of building surveyors and highlight the imminent introduction of sellers packs to further reinforce this argument.
Wynn reports on an investigation into the potential common law liability for householders who undertake “do-it-yourself” flood defence. This following the recent developments in the recognition that flood defence is not something to be left to public agencies and the encouragement of householders to protect their property from the risk of flooding. It is said that providing flood barriers carries two main risks: increased risk to nearby property; and risk of sudden inundation if the barrier fails. A review of relevant legal cases concerning the receipt and passage of naturally flowing water, the increased passage of water to the property of others, and the overtopping or failure of structures that have held back water, is presented. It is concluded that common law currently gives a reasonable legal protection to those who need to prevent flooding of their properties.
Dr David ProverbsSchool of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Wolverhampton