flooding construction

Dealing With Floods Through Construction

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Over the last few years, many countries have witnessed an unusual influx of floods, especially in low-lying areas. These flood incidents have generated interest from experts and residents, primarily on the best prevention and management practices. But the truth is, there is no end in sight for excessive flooding.

Why? The climatic conditions are becoming more extreme, which means more homes are susceptible to flooding.

Fortunately, construction can help considerably. This article discusses a few construction hacks that can protect a building from floods.

Construction Hacks To Prevent Flooding

1. Get the elevation right.

Elevation, as a method of flood-proofing, has been around for a while. It entails determining the possible height of floodwaters and lifting the building above it. It is more important when building along the shore or near a river.

How do you achieve the appropriate elevation? There are various options. For example, having the building on stilts or a raised platform like a beach house. You can also build on a bank of earth or concrete.

You can consult the Federal Emergency Management Agency established guidelines for starters.

2. Build floodwalls.

Not interested in elevating your home above the waters? Then you can build floodwalls. These sturdy walls are flood-proof. Therefore, they protect your property from the large waters. Flood walls have been used to protect buildings, villages, and towns. They can come as perimeter walls with watertight gates. Alternatively, floodwalls can be integrated into the landscaping as berms and walls. In the case of the latter, it ensures the garden can flood, and the water doesn’t get to the property.

3. Dry flood-proofing.

If the floodwaters are most likely to get to the walls of your building, it is advisable to make your building watertight. You can either build in a waterproof membrane or adopt a sealant to keep the water out.

Besides having flood-proof windows and doors, you need to raise or seal all utilities entry points and airbricks. The primary aim of dry waterproofing is to make sure water doesn’t get into the building. You can consult the Federal Emergency Management Agency established guidelines for directions.

4. Wet flood-proofing.

Another way to deal with flooding is to allow the water in, while keeping the possible damage at the least minimum. This is achievable by putting a few measures in place. First, opt for a solid floor instead of wood. Second, keep the power outlets on the upper part of the walls. Finally, if you have stationary furniture, ensure they are made of materials that can soak water without problems.

Wet flood-proofing is more popular in flood-prone properties that the owners want to retain.

This article is brought to you by HL architects North East

Flood-Risk Assessments Of Homes

You cannot effectively protect your home from a flood if you don’t understand the possible ways the flood might happen and your home’s best chances of withstanding it. FEMA provides a Flood Map Service showing the flood risk of each region. All you have to do is input your address, and it will show your area’s flood zones. Alternatively, you can click “Search All Products” and choose your state and community to access your region’s flood history and reports.

You will find different zone markings on the flood maps. Each zone marking indicates the risk level and the relevant water structures in the region. Let’s discuss some of these zones.

Blue Zones – The FEMA blue zones are also called the 1% annual-chance zones. These areas are most likely to be flooded at least once every 100 years. As minimal as this may seem, FEMA describes its blue zones as high-risk areas. Therefore, residents are required to put proper measures in place to flood-proof their homes.

Orange Zones – These zones constitute the 0.2% annual-chance zones. According to FEMA, these zones are at the risk of significant flooding at least once every 500 years. The risks are lower than the blue zones. That said, it is advisable to ensure your house is protected from flooding caused by intensive surface runoffs and leaks.

Yellow Zones – The flood risk level in yellow zone areas is unknown. This is why we recommend intending residents and property owners in these zones to research the area’s flood history. Reach out to neighbors to know the types of flooding they have experienced during their stay. Also, ensure the property can withstand possible flooding – your insurance agent or appraiser can confirm this.

Blue with Red Stripes Zones – These zones are the regulatory floodways, including rivers and the surrounding floodplains. They are necessary to ensure water drains from adjacent flood zones. But it is common to see buildings in or near these regulatory floodways. Such buildings must ensure extensive precautions against flooding because the risk is very high.

It is important to check maps that have been recently published. Relying on outdated maps may lead to problems because the actual flood risks in the region of interest might have changed over time.

You should also discuss with your flood insurance adjuster or agent to understand the flood level of any property of interest. The flood level indicates how high the floodwaters could rise during inclement weather. Ordinarily, homes are expected to be built about the flood levels to protect them from flooding. However, if the building is at the bottom of a valley, for instance, the flood level could be higher than another uphill building, considering some water might flow in the direction of the first building.
Watch out for major rain or snowmelt, and evaluate the surface runoff aftermath to determine how floodwaters might get into your house. For example, check if the water flows away or towards your home and doors or basement windows where the flood water accumulates. With this, you can evaluate the overall flooding risks and determine the most suitable areas for dry-proofing techniques.

Note that regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood damages. You can only get flood insurance by purchasing one from the National Insurance Program or your homeowners’ insurance company as an additional insurance policy.

How Do You Prepare Your House For Flood Resistance?

Based on your findings from the risk evaluation, you should put measures in place to make your home flood-proof. There are different options, including expensive home renovations and basic regular maintenance.
Your options will depend on your home’s risk level and how much resistance your building can offer against flood.

Flood-proofing Renovations

For houses in flood-prone areas or weak resistance against flooding, you can minimize flood damage by doing some flood-proofing work. These include:

1. Raising your home on piers or stilts.
Although building retroactively can be costly, you can conveniently raise your house’s flood level by raising your house on stilts. Of course, your house is at risk, even with just an inch of floodwater. But raising it above the flood level will offer considerable protection.

2. Install a sump pump or foundation vents.
Installing foundation vents is a wet flood-proofing method that ensures water can flow through your home instead of gathering around it. The system creates a floodwater outlet while ensuring that your walls and basements windows are not pressurized by floodwater. You can pump out water gathered in flooded basements using a sump pump. It is advisable to go for battery-powered sump pumps – they work even during a power outage.

3. Use sealants and coatings.
You can dry flood-proof your home by applying sealants and coatings to your doorways, windows, and walls. This prevents water leakage through cracks.

4. Raise your electrical outlets and switches.
Ensure all your electrical outlets – circuit breakers, sockets, and switches, are above flood level (by at least one feet). This will prevent major electrical damage during flooding.

5. Set up check valves on your pipes.
Installing valves on all the pipes entering your house will ensure a flooded sewage system does not back up into your home. We recommend gate valves over flap valves because the former can withstand flood pressure better.

6. Grade the lawns away from the building.
Rainwater tends to pool around homes where the lawn tilt towards the building. However, you can prevent this by re-grading the lawn with heavy soil containing clay. This will ensure that the surface runoff ends up in the street gutter or any other appropriate place.

7. Direct your downspouts away from the building.
In cases where the gutter runoffs point towards the house, rainwater may pool at the corners of the building forcing leaks in your basement. Prevent this by directing downspouts away from your home.

Asides from the renovation steps identified above, you should raise both the external and internal appliances in your home above the flood level. These include air conditioning units, generators, water heaters, washing machines, and dryers. A cost-effective method of doing this is to place them on concrete blocks.

Preventive Steps For When Flooding Starts

  • Here are a few steps you can take to limit the adverse effects of flooding on your property if you are expecting a storm or flooding has already started.
  • If the flooding is coming from the waterline, shut it off.
  • Ensure a free flow of water by clearing out drains and gutters.
  • Block gaps that may cause flooding with sandbags.
  • Elevate electronics, furniture, rugs, and other valuables to a higher floor, or evacuate them.
  • If floodwater is getting close to your electrical system, shut off the electricity from the home’s main supply.
  • Keep the windows open to allow airflow into the home. This may not work when it is raining.
  • Remove pooling water by turning on your sump pump or using a shop vacuum.
  • Keep track of the flooding by taking videos and pictures. The documentation will help your flood insurance claims.

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