Our visit to the BRE Flood House

Last week Flood Assist took a trip to Watford to take a look around the Flood Resilient House at BRE Innovation Park.
So, what’s so special about the house?
The BRE flood house is has been created as model home to show people how they can make their homes flood resilient and still have them look good too. The house is small but perfectly formed – in terms of resilience features! BRE created the model flood home with support from companies including: Axa Insurance, Cunningham Lindsay, The Property Car Association and the Environment Agency. The house has been designed not only keep water out but also in the event of water entering inside it enable the home owner to return to their property sooner i.e. within days or even hours.
Let’s take a look at some of its features:
External flood doors
From both the pavement and the inside these look like ordinary doors. They are designed to do away with temporary fit flood barriers offering permeant solution, they are heavier in weight, thicker and have special seals and a more robust locking mechanism which adds strength and allows the door to cope with the pressure load that a large amount of water can create.
Airbrick covers and window seals
Automatically activating covers are fitted to the airbricks and the windows are fitted with special seals and locks to keep water out.
As well as a tiled floor covering the concrete floor of the house has been specially constructed and includes a specialist membrane and screed. In the event of a flood this mean that water does not permeate in to the concrete and require the often extensive drying out that a conventional concrete floor does.
The floor of the house is slightly sloped towards a drain where water is collected and removed from the property by a sump which is hidden under the floor, should water enter the property the pump will keep the water level at an absolute minimum.
Non-return valves
These are fitted to toilets, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers etc and are to stop water from flowing in to the house – they are, I am reliably told an essential piece of kit if you want to keep your own and others toilet paper out of your house!
The kitchen
Unlike most kitchens that are made of MDF or wood and suffer extensive damage in the event of a flood, the house’s kitchen units are made of composite materials that can withstand water, worktops are ceramic and can be easily, safely and quickly cleaned down. The appliances within the kitchen are also raised off the floor, again to minimise the chance of damage. The lower kitchen units are also fitted with slide out baskets which can be removed and placed on the worktops if flooding is imminent.
Sockets & switches
These are all raised from the ground to lessen the chances of damage should water enter the house.
The walls within the house are fitted with water resistant insulation and magnesium oxide boards instead of traditional plasterboards and these are fitted horizontally which means that only the lower half of the walls need to be replaced.
There are plans to adapt 3 properties in Cumbria to model examples of flood resilience homes, they are due for completion at the end of this summer. The project which is being led by emergency response specialists Adler & Allan will require financial support from flood specialists, suppliers and insurer to fund the work. It will act as model home demonstrating to homeowners and communities what can be done to minimise the impact of a flood. The houses are due for completion at the end of this summer.
If you’ve ever been flooded it’s likely you’ll be keen not to live through the whole experience again, it’s a common misconception and often heard saying ‘it won’t happen to me again’ well, the reality is that it’s likely that it will and you need to be prepared for it. Whilst having flood insurance undoubtedly provides peace of mind, it can’t compensate for the emotional impact and stress that a flood can cause, investing in flood resilience measures can have more than just a financial benefit.