You may have found the perfect house to buy, but you discover it’s on a floodplain. You are now faced with a decision of whether to buy the house or not. There are many dangers of living on a floodplain, not least getting flooded, which is why it’s important to understand what the dangers are of living on floodplains.
The number one danger of living on a floodplain is the real risk of your house flooding. With global warming, and rising sea levels, the risk of flood is increasing, which means that the danger of living on floodplains is higher now than it ever has been.
I think it’s important for you to know what it’s like to get flooded, if you’ve not experienced flooding before. I had my offices flooded when the town where they were located had a severe downpour over night. I arrived at my office to find the basement full of flood water to a depth of at least three feet. The building was damaged and the contents got ruined. As a result of this flood, I would never buy a house on a floodplain, as the risk is too high of flooding, and it’s a very stressful situation to go through.
The stream that flooded in this case was void of water for most of the time, and normally only became a trickle of water in the autumn and winter months. I was completely shocked by how this very small stream could cause such a huge flood. My property wasn’t the only one that was flooded, as the houses along the same street where my offices were located also flooded at the same time.
The latter point being that just because the house is near what may look like a small stream now, may cause a flooding problem if it rains very heavily in the future. This event may have been what’s known as a 100-year storm (see below).
What are the dangers of buying a house on a floodplain?
The most significant danger of buying a house on a floodplain is the very high risk of your house getting flooded. Living on a floodplain also carries the risk of your home being washed away, which carries the danger of drowning and death too.
What is a floodplain?
A floodplain is an area of low-lying land that is adjacent to a river or a stream, which is formed of river sediments and is subject to flooding. Floodplains stretch from the banks of the river to the outer edges of the valley.
Why are floodplains bad?
Floodplains are bad when you consider the dangers associated with living in close proximity to a river or stream that could flood at any time and flood your house too. Being flooded is horrible and creates stress and anxiety for homeowners when it happens.
Can you get insurance on a house on a floodplain?
You can get insurance cover for a house located on a floodplain or in a high flood risk area. In the UK The Association of British Insurers launched the Flood Re scheme to help homeowners find reasonably priced insurance cover for homes previously hit by floods.
The Flood Re Scheme in the UK helps insurance providers to offer more affordable flood risk insurance policies where ordinarily they were not able to do so before.
In the United States there is the National Flood Insurance Program that is designed to share the risk of flood losses through flood insurance.
This US Government program enables property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. It also requires flood insurance for all loans or lines of credit that are secured by existing buildings.
Can you get a mortgage on a house on a floodplain?
You can get a mortgage on a house on a floodplain or in a high risk flood zone, but not all mortgage providers offer mortgages on properties at risk of flooding. Those mortgage lenders that offer mortgages on properties in danger of flooding may require a bigger deposit and will insist on having flood insurance cover in place.
Should I buy a house on a floodplain?
It isn’t a good idea to buy a home on a floodplain, as you are putting your home and possessions and possibly your family at risk by doing so.
When is a house considered to be in a flood zone?
A house is considered to be in a “flood zone” if any part of the property falls within a floodplain, which is an area either side of a stream or river that floods from time-to-time. The area of a floodplain predicted to flood once every 100-years due to 100-year storms is considered a flood zone.
What are the pros and cons of buying a house on a floodplain?
As with anything, there are always pros and cons to consider. As far as buying a house on a floodplain the pros and cons include.
What are the pros of buying a house on a floodplain?
The advantages of living on a floodplain include the following:
- If the house on the floodplain is next to the river, the view will be amazing.
- If you love to live near water, and the house is next to the river itself, you will love living on a floodplain. But your love of water vs the dangers of living so close to a river need to be considered carefully.
- If you love to go fishing, you will be near to or next to a river to enjoy fishing.
- Houses on a floodplain will be cheaper to buy, so you’ll often get a bigger house for your money. Having said that, some houses right on a river with a river view attract higher values.
What are the cons of buying a house on a floodplain?
The disadvantages of living on a floodplain include:
- There’s the real danger of the house getting flooded.
- On certain floodplains there is a risk of the house being washed away.
- The danger of you or your family being washed away in a severe flood is a risk to consider.
- You may get cut-off by flood waters and not be able to leave your home.
- If you get flooded, you risk losing valuable possessions that may not necessarily be replaced by insurance cover.
- After having to leave your home in the event of a flood, it can take a long time to repair the flood damage.
- Houses on floodplains may take longer to sell.
- The value of a house that has only just flooded will reduce dramatically immediately after a flood.
- You may struggle to sell your property if it has recently flooded.
- It is more difficult to get a mortgage on a house in a flood risk zone.
- You may need a bigger deposit to buy a house on a floodplain.
- Home insurance can be more expensive for houses on floodplains, especially if its been flood before.
- The risk of flood is increasing with the effects of global warming.
How does a floodplain affect property value?
The effect on property values because it is located on a floodplain can be as high as 25% when a recent flood has occurred. The house value reduction, which is as a result of a flood, decreases as time passes from the flood event.
There are a few examples of how property values are affected that are on floodplains, which is dependent on which country the property is located.
- Houses that are located on a floodplains in Canada have a reduced value of between 1-4%, but where an actual flood event has occurred property values can decrease by between 18-25% instead.*
- Houses located in North Carolina on flood plains are valued at 7.3% less than the average sale price of other houses not on a floodplain.**
- Houses located in the UK on floodplains have a median discounted value of between 12-15% from houses not on a floodplain.***
- Houses located in Sydney, Australia that are prone to flooding have a discounted value of up to 16% from other property not located in a flood-prone area.****
But in all countries, the studies showed that the value decrease that’s was caused by recent flooding would decline as time elapses from the time when the flood happened.
* Information in Canada and according to Ebbwater Consulting. ** Study by Science Daily of houses in Carteret County, North Carolina USA. *** Study by Building Flood Research Group (BFRG) carried in in the UK. **** Lambert and Cordery (1997) study of floods in Sydney and in Nyngan.
What does it mean to be in the 100-year floodplain?
A 100-year floodplain is floodplain land that is predicted to only flood during a 100-year storm, which means there is a 1% chance of a flood occurring in any given year. This means that a 100-year flood has a probability 1 in 100 chance of happening.
Buying a house in 100 year floodplain
If you are planning to buy a house on a 100 year floodplain, whilst it is predicted that there’s a 1% annual chance of flooding, there is still a risk the house will flood at any time, as it is in a flood-zone. This is especially true as a result of global warming.
Can a 100-year flood happen more than once in 100 years?
There is the danger that a 100-year flood could happen more than once in 100 years, or even more, as the ‘100-years’ is merely a prediction. A prediction is only a forecast of what someone thinks will happen and not an absolute of what may or may not happen in the future.
The danger of a 100-year flood happening increases as each year passes that a 100-year storm hasn’t already occurred to cause a flood.
How do you know if you live in a floodplain?
To know if you live in a floodplain you can check the FEMA Flood Map if you live in the United States. This site has an easy to use search tool to check if your address is in a flood zone.
If you live in the UK you can use the Government website to check your flood risk by entering your postcode.
But also, during the house buying process you should pay for an Environmental Agency search to show the risk of flooding for the house and whether or not the house is on a floodplain.
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