Storms, floods, heatwaves… YOUR home may be in line for a battering – so try these tips to protect it
- Extreme weather events are increasing – from flash flooding to heat waves
- The insurer Aviva received 7,600 storm claims from UK households in February last year alone – around the same number it usually gets in a whole year
- Average summer temperatures will regularly hit 38.5C by 2050, say MPs
- Heat-related deaths could rise to 7,000 a year by then if homes are not adapted
Extreme weather events are increasingly common – from flash flooding to prolonged heat waves.
The insurer Aviva received 7,600 storm claims from UK households in February last year alone – around the same number it usually gets in a whole year.
There were more than 2,500 heat-related deaths in 2020. This number could rise to 7,000 every year by 2050 if homes are not adapted, according to the Environment Audit Committee.
The committee of MPs also predicts that average rainfall will rise by 59 per cent over this period and that summer temperatures will regularly hit 38.5C. So what can households do to futureproof their home against extreme weather conditions?
Steps can be taken in every room of a home to cut the risk of flooding, as we outline below
Preparing for the risk of flooding
A little planning can help cut the risk of flooding and reduce the damage if your home is hit. Some are good practice even if your property has not been flooded before.
1) Keep drains and gutters clear of debris so water can drain easily in the event of heavy rainfall.
2) Store valuables and electric items upstairs or in high cupboards and store important documents in watertight bags.
3) Secure outdoor furniture in a locked garage or shed in the event of a flood alert so it can’t be shifted by flood water.
4) Draw up an evacuation plan in case the worst does happen.
There are also several long-term measures you can put in place if you believe your home is at high risk of flooding.
5) Raise the height of electrical sockets to reduce the risk of flood water reaching them.
6) Lay tiles rather than carpet or wooden flooring, as they are less likely to be destroyed if covered in water.
7) Use water-resistant plaster on walls to reduce the damage from flood water.
8) Install one-way valves on waste drains to stop backflow coming through toilets and sinks in a flood. These cost around £150, including installation.
9) Consider flood defence doors, which can be put in place if there is a flood warning.
David Griffiths, 74, from Cenarth, in South Wales, has three aluminium doors fitted on to the front and rear doors of his home.
He attaches them whenever there is a flood warning. David and his wife Carol got the doors after they were flooded three years ago.
The couple had to move into a caravan for almost a year while their house was repaired.
‘Three out of the five nearby homes flooded,’ says David. ‘It took forever to clean up the mess and it was traumatic moving all our furniture and belongings into storage.’
David’s home insurer, NFU Mutual, covered the cost of the flood repairs and paid £5,000 towards the £9,700 price of the flood defences. The National Flood Forum has a list of average prices for flood prevention and protection measures.
You can find out if your home is at risk of flooding by using the Government website and typing in your postcode.
Insulation can help keep your home warm in winter – but also cool in the summer
…and how to tackle extreme temperatures
10) Three-quarters of the energy from sunlight hitting a window enters a home as heat. Energy-efficient windows, blinds, window films and shutters can help keep the heat out.
Even simply closing drapes or curtains in the summer can reduce heat gain by a third.
11) Insulation, including in cavity and solid walls, and lofts, can regulate the temperature in to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in winter.
A set of A-rated double-glazed PVC windows can cost around £4,250 and for loft insulation you’ll pay £300 on average for a semidetached house.
Finding the best home insurance
If you live in an area at risk of flooding, home insurance can be expensive and standard insurers may refuse you cover altogether.
However, many insurers offer affordable cover under the Flood Re scheme.
This was introduced in 2013 to help subsidise the cost of cover for households living on flood plains. Insurers pay into a £180million pot to help cover claims.
Homes built after 2009 are not covered by the scheme. The cut-off date was introduced to disincentivise developers from building homes on flood plains.
However, since then, 70,000 homes have been built in areas at risk of flooding. You can check if you are eligible for the scheme and which insurers are signed up here.
Robert Burke, head of project management and building consultancy for estate agent Cluttons, says: ‘Housebuilders do build in flood zones, and some homes look quite attractive with a countryside appeal. However, developers don’t always mitigate against the risk.
‘Local authorities and planning teams probably aren’t doing enough to detract housebuilders from building in certain areas, nor do they interrogate the design of houses enough to ensure they are flood-resistant. But given the need for housing, it’s not top of the list of concerns.’
For those struggling to get cover, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association can help you find a specialist insurance broker who will search for the most affordable cover. Go to biba.org.uk.