Flood Performance Certificates (FPC) are an idea that in some ways follows the template of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), making the case that FPC would inform homebuyers and tenants about the risk of flooding before they buy or sign a lease agreement.
This applies equally to business premises as well as homes and if the FPC is presented during the conveyancing process, it can help to inform the buyer and seller of the steps necessary to improve the resilience of the property. The advantage of such a system is that the steps could be achieved incrementally rather than all at once, which could spread the financial burden over time more easily.
Property flooding is on the increase as climate change affects the intensity of large rainfall events and the consequences for homeowners in terms of disruption, mental health, anxiety and financial burden are well known. How flooding can be mitigated at the property level is not so well known by the general public or developers, at large. The FPC scheme, if promoted well by the insurance sector, has the opportunity to address this lack of knowledge for property owners.
Aquobex and partners BACA Architects proposed this exact idea some six years ago when working together with BRE (Building Research Establishment) on a Defra-funded study on how to develop building policy in flood zones, so it is good to see it being revisited by FloodRe. As we discussed and described in our study, building new homes in a flood zone is not difficult, it is simply a matter of putting the current state-of-the-art technology into practice. Nothing major needs to be developed* but it does need to be put together with care and attention to detail.
[*A key development for new build and property renovations is the need for a zero or low threshold door that addresses disabled access into residential and commercial buildings].
Retrofitting the current housing stock is a lot harder though, with the hard to reach areas of floor, wall and foundation proving the hardest to protect. This is why this type of repair is best achieved after a flood. When access to these areas is easier after the fitted kitchen, stairs and fireplace have been removed.
Of the 5.2m homes at risk of flooding in the UK, 5.2m have already been built.
With this in mind, it is imperative, in our opinion, that the FPCs provide a “whole house” certification scheme focused on the existing building stock for retrofit. New properties will build on the experience of this scheme as they are far easier to protect at the building stage and developers should be keen to demonstrate the resilience of their homes.