When buying a new property, location is everything. However, you should avoid buying in a flood zone.
This is due to several inherent risks that come with living in a flood prone area.
In this blog, we explain why you should worry about flooding, how to avoid buying in a flood prone area and what to do if you still want to purchase it.
Brisbane and flooding
Brisbane city exists on a floodplain. This means that the city is a flat area next to a river.
Floods occur when water rises to such a point it goes beyond its normal boundaries and covers areas that are normally dry.
Flooding is caused by many factors, including heavy rainfall, storm surges and dams or levees breaking.
Given that Brisbane is built around the Brisbane River, this creates an obvious risk of floods for the area and those effected by its many reaches.
The risks of flooding
Living in a flood area comes with several very serious risks.
Flooding in urban areas can destroy homes, sometimes submerging them completely and wrecking everything inside.
The destruction of homes due to flooding causes not only emotional stress, but also serious economic hardships.
Even if your home is not destroyed, flood water can cause serious, long-term damage such as rotting wood, rust, mould, bacteria and more.
The Brisbane Floods of 2011 inundated thousands of homes and took the lives of 33 people. It caused approximately $2.4 billion worth of property damage.
Furthermore, floodwater can prove deadly.
Beyond the risk of drowning, floodwater carries debris which includes sharp or heavy objects can lead to serious wounds or death if the water is moving fast enough.
However, even in still water, slip and trip hazards can be present beneath the water.
Floodwater also spreads bacterial infections and waterborne, communicable diseases like hepatitis A, leptospirosis, melioidosis and Q Fever.
How to avoid buying in a flood zone
When buying a home, there are several ways you can make sure you don’t purchase in an area that is flood prone.
Your first course of action should be to check the Flood Awareness Map.
The Flood Awareness Map marks the flood prone areas by likelihood (high, medium, low and very low likelihood). It is free and readily available on the Brisbane City Council website.
You can also access the Floodwise Property Report which takes information from previous floods, flood studies and computer modelling to determine the flood risk of your property.
If you are buying property outside of Brisbane, ask the relevant city council for a flood report of the property.
Furthermore, you can consult your real estate agent and ask them if the home has ever been flooded.
What if you still want to buy?
If you are intent on purchasing a home that is in flood zone, you should take a few steps first.
Firstly, it is important to expect flooding to occur in your area, if it is listed as flood prone.
Flooding has been predicted by scientists to occur every 30 years or so, so you should prepare accordingly.
Consider getting the house raised and ensure rooms on the lower level can be easily renovated or cleaned if flood water reaches them.
Flood insurance is extremely complex and many insurance companies do not offer it, but if you can get it that would be beneficial.
In any case, you should develop a comprehensive flood plan and have an easily accessible survival kit in a waterproof container.
This will allow you to be prepared when the flood comes.