We have created a demonstration home as part of the BRE Innovation Park at Watford which has been adapted to be resistant to flooding from water up to 600mm (2 feet) deep, and also to be resilient to the effects of being flooded beyond that – in other words, it is designed to dry out quickly and be suitable to move back into in a very short time after a flood incident.

At present, following a flood, builders repairing a flood-damaged home would strip off soggy plasterboard, take out the flooring and rip out a saturated chipboard kitchen. But, once the house has dried out, then they’d very likely put plasterboard back in, install a new chipboard kitchen, and use non-water resistant flooring and insulation materials, which, if the home were to flood again in the future, will suffer the same fate.

The BRE Flood Resilient Repair Home aims to show alternative replacement products in the repairs that will not be affected by subsequent flooding; products that are resilient. It also shows how simple measures such as placing electrical outlets higher up walls and using doors and windows with flood resisting seals can help minimise future damage. And, if water does get in, an automatic ‘sump pump’ connected to drains in the floor quickly gets water out of the house again.

Resistant and resilient measures used in the house

  • Water resistant insulation in the walls and under the floor (such as spray-applied PUR foam or injected foamed cavity insulation)
  • Kitchen units and doors made from resin-bonded board, and fitted with all-ceramic worktops
  • Waterproof magnesium oxide wall boards instead of plasterboard, or, if plasterboard is used, this fitted horizontally so that in future only the lower boards need replacement if damaged
  • ceramic tiled floor and loose rugs in place of fitted carpets

As well as these measures, other things have been done to keep vulnerable items out of the way of any future flood water:

  • Sockets and switches placed higher up the wall, and the wiring to them all coming from the ceiling
  • Appliances in the kitchen (fridge, oven, washing machine etc) mounted at worktop height
  • The lower kitchen cupboards fitted with slide-out baskets so that they can be taken out and placed on the worktop if flooding is imminent

To prevent flooding entering the property by seepage from under the floor (which happens as groundwater rises, even if floodwater doesn’t reach the door)

  • Membranes installed under the floor and in the walls* to divert water towards…
  • Drain channels beneath the floor around the perimeter of the room, directing water into…
  • A sump in the corner of the home fitted with automatic pumps to remove the water, pumping it outside, before it can reach up to the floor
  • *the membrane in the wall means that if the adjoining property floods, water that seeps through the wall from next door is channelled away to prevent damage on your side. This allows repairs to start even if the neighbouring property is still affected.

And finally, to stem the flow of any flooding that reaches above the door sill level:

  • Enhanced seals and locks to the doors and windows to make them flood-proof
  • Air brick covers
  • One-way valves in the main drains to prevent water coming up into the home via the sewers
  • Drains fitted flush with the floor connected direct to the sump and pump (and so independent from the (mains drainage), can rapidly clear any flooding that does get into the home, pumping it out above the external floodwater level