Up to 50,000 Irish properties at risk of flooding

Surveyors launch new guide for homeowners dealing with flooding

“Drawing up a flood plan in advance is key”

Friday 3rd January 2014: The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has warned that there is an increasing likelihood that flooding will affect more properties in Ireland due to changing weather patterns and the amount of new buildings constructed on low lying areas in recent years.

The SCSI, which is the representative body for surveyors and estate agents, said it’s estimated that between 40 and 50,000 properties are currently at risk of flooding in Ireland. Speaking at the launch of a new guide which covers all aspects of flooding, the Society’s Kevin Hollingsworth urged homeowners and prospective buyers to be aware of the risks of flooding and the damage it can cause to property.

“Flooding can cause significant damage and stress for homeowners so the publication of this guide is timely given the extreme weather conditions and flooding which are currently affecting many parts of the country. Clearly the safety of all the occupants is the first priority and that is why drawing up a flood plan in advance is key.

When flooding occurs it is very important to turn off the electricity and gas supply and to unplug any electrical items which may be covered in water, provided it is safe to do so. It is also important that homeowners who have been affected by flooding should remove the damaged items but should not dispose of them until the loss adjuster has inspected them, where there is cover in place” Mr Hollingsworth said.

‘A Clear Guide to Flooding’ gives information on how flooding affects the value and insurability of property, explains what’s involved in drawing up a flood plan, constructing flood defences and reinstating a property which has been flooded. The guide also provides a list of useful links including the OPW’s dedicated website on flooding. It is available for free from the SCSI website.

The guide includes the following advice for anyone currently affected by flooding:

  • Avoid contact with items which have come into contact with floodwater which is filthy where possible and use antibacterial gels where it does occur.
  • Do not operate anything on mains power, including switching off the electrics, whilst standing in floodwater. Try to switch off the electrics as soon as it is evident your property is about to flood. Disconnect all appliances. If any part of the mains electrics has been affected by floodwater, do not switch the power back on – leave the reinstatement of power to a qualified and RECI registered electrician.
  • Move costly possessions and important documents upstairs for their protection and move other lightweight furnishings upstairs. Raise other furniture on blocks if possible to avoid them becoming damaged. Pack items of sentimental value into water resistant bags and move them to a safe place.
  • If the flood is very deep, or the floodwater is fast-flowing and carrying large objects such as trees with it, structural damage to the building may be caused. In this case early evacuation is essential and constitutes an emergency. If you need to leave your home ensure that it is locked and protected.
  • After the flooding has subsided, you will first need to contact your insurance company to lodge your claim and to arrange matters with the insurerʼs Loss Adjuster. Nothing that you may subsequently claim for should be thrown away or repaired without the loss adjusterʼs consent and without keeping a proper written and photographic record, otherwise your claim for such items may be jeopardised.
  • Be aware of possible structural damage. If there are any signs of damage (cracking/bulging to walls, floors or ceilings) do not return to the property. There may be a risk of collapse. An inspection will need to be undertaken by a Chartered Building Surveyor or Structural Engineer to confirm whether it is safe to re-enter the property.
  • Reinstatement may take weeks or months: Due to the sheer number of claims, it may take some time for your claim to be processed. Cleaning and drying out the property is a slow process and cannot be rushed. Trapped water can result in serious long term damage to the property, including the risk of ongoing damp, mould and mildew, wet and dry rot, and presence of fungal spores which can trigger allergic reactions. Once the property is clean and dry, reinstatement works can be undertaken. If the damage has been severe, professional assistance is recommended to ensure all aspects are adequately dealt with, including any potential structural damage.

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