According to the Financial Risks of Climate Change report from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), climate change could increase the costs of flooding by 15-fold by the 2080s. Some 570,000 homes are estimated to be at high risk from flooding in the UK.
This represents 10 per cent of the total housing stock and is a percentage that is expected to rise as the pressure increases to use flood risk areas for new housing.
For house construction in flood risk areas, the choice of building materials and finishes should maximise flood resilience by minimising damage and the refurbishment time. A high level of flood resilience is provided by concrete and masonry homes.
When used as part of a flood resilience design strategy, concrete and masonry doesn’t absorb significant amounts of water and, depending upon the design, may not require any finishes, which would need to be stripped off following a flood (for example, plasterboard). Nor will they rot or warp as a result of water damage.
Building homes that do not have the built-in flood resilience of concrete could prove expensive. The Association of British Insurers estimates that if no steps are taken to manage flood damage, then the cost of floods could rise by £20.9 million annually.
In its guidance document Strategic Planning for Flood Risk in the Growth Areas, the ABI points out that unless sufficient precautions are taken to minimise potential flood damage, many homes may become uninsurable. Specific measures recommended by the ABI include the use of concrete floors.
The ABI has also called for a new flood resilience kite mark for housing developments planned for flood plains. This would help house buyers make an informed decision about the flood resilience of their home and would enable insurers to be better placed to offer competitively priced flood insurance.
The concrete industry has welcomed this move, and offers a range of concrete flood resilient solutions including the provision of concrete infill under existing floors, the use of fast drying concrete floor screeds and hydraulic domestic flood defence walls.
Concrete and masonry do not absorb significant amounts of water and are therefore easier to repair after flood damage.