A housing unit within the BRE Victorian Terrace demonstration project is being refurbished with materials and products designed to make it flood resilient. It will then be inundated with water to see what happens.
The project, which is being funded primarily by the BRE Trust and insurance company Axa, has been prompted by recent flooding in the UK, causing up to £100,000 of damage in many homes.
“There are an estimated 5.2 million homes considered at risk from surface, river and coastal flooding,” said Stephen Garvin, director of the BRE Centre for Resilience. “Preventative measures play a key role but given the scale of our vulnerability, we need to think more practically about flooding and start to adapt to ‘living with water. So fitting a house with resilient technologies and testing its ability to bounce back from water ingress is the first step on this journey.”
The aim of the project is to raise awareness among contractors and householders of the most effective ways to repair and refurbish a house that has been flooded and might be at risk of being flooded again.
The project demonstrates both resistance to flood water, as well as the resilience if water gets into the property. Along with flood resistant doors, windows and a resilient kitchen, the project will also include water resistant wall and floor membranes that channel water towards drains and sumps that disperse water quickly.
Different types of water resistant insulation will be applied including injected cavity wall insulation, thermal board and PUR spray foam. Resilient surfaces such as robust boards and cement tanking will also be demonstrated. The floor insulation will also be improved and different types of floor covering will be featured. The house will also have toilet and sink non-return valves and will address issues like where to place the electrics and home appliances.
Once refurbished, the home will be put to the test by flooding it with water and monitoring how quickly the home recovers and is functional again, and what damage occurs.
Axa UK chief executive Amanda Blanc said: “As the country faces the prospect of more severe weather striking more often, government, insurers and society need to work together to ensure that our homes and businesses are protected against the worst effects of flooding. Flood defences and the right insurance cover are vital elements of that but increasingly the use of resilient repairs is a key tool that we can use to reduce the impact of flooding.”
The project is linked to a BRE programme for developing appropriate standards for post-flood resilient repairs, and technical guidance to help contractors deliver cost-effective measures.
The BRE Victorian Terrace is one of 13 demonstration buildings at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford. The buildings address a number of challenges faced by the built environment including climate change mitigation and climate adaption, fuel poverty and energy efficiency.