We ask a leading UK expert for advice on how to make your home more flood resilient

The devastating effect of flooding was brought home in distressing scenes from South Yorkshire this month.With meteorological winter, which begins on December 1, set to bring more wet weather, we asked flood resilience consultant Mary Dhonau for some advice.Mary is one of the leaders of the Defra Property Resilience Round Table and says: “Having been flooded myself on quite a few occasions, I know how awful it is. Can I encourage those whose homes have recently been flooded to talk to their insurance providers about building back better?“With climate change, flooding is set to get worse, making homes flood resilient can allow people to get back into their property sooner. The average person is out of their home for nine months after a flood, so in my book flood recoverable repair is the way to go.”Preparation: Check if your home is at risk of flooding. The Environment Agency website https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-riskIn addition, there are many companies, such as Landmark Home Check, which for a few pounds will give you details of all forms of flood risk including surface water flooding.Protection: This is known as flood resistance and means using flood protection products or building materials to try to prevent water from entering. These measures will involve some expense but are far superior to sandbags, which often only filter the water.Self rising flood barriers are a good option. They use the water to activate closure. Flood Stop has proved successful, especially in surface water flooding.The Environment Agency has tested some flood protection products and given a kite mark. Details can be found on its website.The Property Care Association, www.property-care.org has a list of reputable flood protection firms on its website.*Protect airbricks: There are various types of protection. They include a stick-on plaster type for low flood risk area and covers that can be screwed on. There is also a “fit and forget” airbrick cover, which is self-activating.Protecting doorways: You can replace your existing door with what effectively looks like a normal door but has built-in flood protection or you can fit protection in front of your doors. Also think about keeping a supply of “sandless sandbags”. A well-known brand is HydroSacks, which are a bit like disposable nappies and can soak up to about 20 litres of water.Other flood resistance products: Many people report that the first thing that alerted them to the fact that their home/business was flooding is when their carpets became saturated. In this situation using a pump in a sump under the floor could help to keep the water level down.Anti backflow valves are very useful to stop sewage entering your home via the toilet. Failing that consider investing in a‘toilet bung’, which can be easily fitted to stop the flood water over-topping the toilet. You can also purchase anti-backflow vales for washing machines.Check the condition of your external brick work and repair crumbling mortar and cracked bricks.*Flood resilience: This is adapting a property to minimise the effect of floodwater, so that no permanent damage is caused and the structural integrity is maintained. This reduces the amount of time homeowners are out of their properties and the amount of money your insurance firm will have to pay out, helping you to be able to maintain your insurance cover. IExamples of flood resilience include putting the plug sockets, boilers and service meters higher up the walls – above previous flood levels.You can also install tiled floors over a concrete floor,fit plastic skirting boards or use wood such as oak which is more resilient to floodwater.I used normal skirting board, but coated it with several layers of yacht varnish, when I was flooded again in 2007 and my skirting boards were fine.*Replace your kitchen units with stainless steel or plastic carcasses on which normal doors can be fitted and removed before a flood. Or use solid wood rather than MDF or chipboard units.*Insulation will need to be replaced with closed cell insulation, which can protect against water damage. Replace ordinary plaster with lime-based plaster or cement render or replace ordinary plaster boards with ones made of Magnesium oxide as these are water resistant.*Fit lightweight internal doors with rising hinges, so if you get a flood warning you can lift the doors off and store away.*Before following any of my tips seek advice from a qualified flood risk surveyor. Whilst I have given various examples of flood mitigation I do not endorse any product.*Mary Dhonau Associates is a specialist independent flood resilience consultancy. www.marydhonau.co.uk.

Sign up to our daily newsletter