Whether it’s coming from snowmelt, storm surge, or rain-swollen rivers, it doesn’t take much water to do a lot of damage to a home. Across the US, floods cause more property damage every year than any other natural disaster. In the wake of events like the Louisiana flooding of 2016, many homeowners are wondering what can be done to avoid or mitigate the impacts of water damage. Here are some tips to help reduce the impact of flooding to new construction or renovations.
Get the Facts
Preventing flooding starts with understanding the risks. Before beginning any preventative work, homeowners should do their homework. FEMA maintains flood maps that seek to forecast what’s known as the base flood elevation. The base flood elevation is the predicted height of water in a storm that has a one percent chance of occurring (once in a hundred years). If a property is well above that elevation already, minor precautions might suffice. For homes squarely in a floodplain, however, more robust measures may be necessary.
Do a Little
If a property is relatively elevated, less work may be necessary to prevent house flooding. That said, even an inch of water on the floor can cause tremendous damage. Start by raising all electrical components (outlets, circuit breakers, etc.) at least a foot above base flood elevation. For historic properties, this can be a challenge. Look for a contractor familiar with the rigours of the National Historic Preservation Act to work on heritage properties.
Do a Lot
When a home is in a floodplain, there is little that can be done to prevent house flooding other than adding elevation. If lifting the home is an option, it should be seriously considered with a trusted home renovation expert. Some homes are poor candidates for a lift. Slab-on-grade construction, for example, may be prohibitively expensive. A newer strategy is to tear the roof off, add a second story, and design the ground floor in a way that can withstand periodic inundation (no carpet, brick walls, no major appliances).
No matter where a home is located it is prudent for a homeowner to consider potential flood damage. Planning ahead is the best method for prevention.