Six steps to property flood resilience

With one in six UK homes at risk of flooding and climate change increasing this risk, even if you haven't flooded before it's worth being prepared just in case the worst should happen. Fortunately, there are some simple property flood resilience measures that you can take – and products you can buy – that can limit the damage.

This could save you money and heartache, as well as allowing you to return to your property much sooner than if you had no protection.

Here, we briefly outline six essential steps to help you understand the process of preparing for flooding and installing property flood protection. By clicking here you can download a booklet that covers these steps in much more detail.

Step one

Check your flood risk

You can check your flood risk online or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. This will help you understand your risk of flooding from rivers, surface water and reservoirs. Risks from runoff and flash flooding are more difficult to predict - see this page for some additional sources of information which you might find helpful.

Step two

Make a flood plan

Flooding can happen very quickly, giving you little time to act. Creating a flood plan for your home, business or community and sharing it with those who need to see it can help minimise damage and protect your loved ones, emloyees and neighbours. The plan should include useful contacts, a trigger for action, steps to take and a list of essential items to have to hand when it floods. Be sure to keep it somewhere that everyone can find it, and check it regularly to ensure that it is up to date.

Step three

Do the groundwork

Before undertaking any work on your property, you will need to check your insurer’s policy on flood resilience technologies. The Association of British Insurers or the British Insurance Brokers Association may be able to suggest insurers that specialise in flood risk cover.

The next important step will be a survey of your property. You can choose a manufacturer’s survey or an independent survey. Your Local Authory's planning department and the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have a list of professional chartered surveyors that you can browse by postcode.

Step four

Choose the right products

A combination of flood resistance measures (those designed to keep floodwater out) and resilience measures (those designed to reduce damage when water enters) offers the best way to protect your property and minimise recovery costs.

If you're looking to invest in property flood resilience products, you may find this guide helpful.

Step five

Choose the right installer

Sadly after flooding, unscrupulous 'property flood protection companies' tend to come out of the woodwork and prey on the already vulnerable. Avoid 'cowboy builders' and find an installer you can trust with this guide to choosing the right tradespeople.

Step six

Keep products in good working order

All products – even automatic ones – will need to be periodically checked, tested and maintained. Practice installing products such as flood barriers and check mechanisms on products like flood doors and valves regularly to ensure that they are in good working order. Take care if having any alterations made to existing products such as flood doors as these may invalidate manufacturers’ warranties. For more, see: Maintaining Flood Products.

Some final words...

These products are not a guarantee that your home will be completely protected from any and all flood events, but they should minimise any damage.

Please note that there will be special considerations if you own a listed building or you are located in a conservation area. In this case, please refer to the Historic England guide Flooding and Historic Buildings that will direct you to specialist advice.

Recommended guides...

We have spoken to people who have been flooded before and they have recommended the following guides to property flood resilience:

Environment Agency: Prepare your property for flooding

Know Your Flood Risk: Homeowner's guide to flood resilience

The National Flood Forum: Protecting Your Property

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Obtaining flood insurance for high risk areas

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors: A clear guide to flooding for property owners

The Association of British Insurers: A guide to resistant and resilient repair after a flood