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Repairing Flooded Buildings

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Repairing Buildings



Repairing flooded buildings
An insurance industry guide to
investigation and repair
Demelza House
Demelza is a charity providing hospice care for children with life-limiting
conditions and their families across Kent, East Sussex and south London.
Our services include hospice-at-home care, hospice care, planned short breaks,
emergency respite, therapies, symptom control, end-of-life care, and
bereavement support. These services are currently provided through:
● Demelza House, an eight-bedded hospice in Sittingbourne, Kent
● Demelza James, the hospice-at-home service operating in west Kent, East
Sussex and south London.
We care for approximately 400 children and families in our catchment area, with
about 300 using the services at Demelza House and about 100 using the
Demelza James hospice-at-home service.
Demelza’s annual running costs are approximately £3.5million. We do not
receive any government funding and rely 100% on fundraising to run our
Our main cost is direct care for the children and families to whom 78% of our
income is devoted. Fundraising and volunteers absorb 20% and just 2% goes on
administration. In other words, of every £1 donated 78p goes directly to caring
for children and their families.
We would like to thank you, the reader, for buying this book and so supporting
Demelza. We also thank the authors for their generosity in donating their
royalties from the sale of this book to help our children and their families.
Ted Gladdish
CEO Demelza
Hospice Care for Children
Repairing flooded buildings
An insurance industry guide to
investigation and repair
Flood Repairs Forum
Details of all publications from BRE Press
are available from:
Website: www.brepress.com
IHS Rapidoc (BRE Press)
Willoughby Road
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Tel: 01344 404407
Fax: 01344 714440
email: [email protected]
Published by BRE Press
Requests to copy any part of this
publication should be made to:
BRE Press
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Tel: 01923 664761
Fax: 01923 662477
email: [email protected]
EP 69
© Flood Repairs Forum 2006
First published 2006
ISBN 1 86081 903 6
Cover picture:
Flooding in the City of York,
November 2000
(Courtesy of BDMA/One Call)
The contents of this book
reflect the knowledge and
experience of individual and
corporate contributors.
However, the authors and their
sources, and the publishers,
take no responsibility for the
subsequent use of the
information, nor for any errors
or omissions, it may contain.
Foreword vii
Members of the Flood Repairs Forum vii
Abbreviations viii
1 Introduction 1
2 Technical competence of the remediation team 3
Complex building types 4
3 Managing the customer contact process 5
Policyholder contact – a staged approach 6
Frequently asked questions 10
4 Damage reporting and collecting the ‘right’
information 13
5 A general guide to drying 19
Minimum drying standards 20
Primary and secondary damage 21
Triage, clearance and cleaning 22
6 Health and safety in flood damage repair 23
Primary legal standards applicable 23
Overall recommendations for flood repairs 25
7 Equipment for drying buildings 45
Types of dehumidifier 45
Refrigerant dehumidifiers 46
Desiccant dehumidifiers 46
Convection drying 47
8 Methods of drying buildings 49
Establishing a drying programme 49
Key factors in the drying process 51
Importance of monitoring 52
High temperatures 52
Vulnerable materials 52
Common problems 52
9 Monitoring the drying process 53
Monitoring equipment 53
Certificate of drying 54
Report of flooding event 56
Report of repairs to flood damaged property 58
10 Standards for repairing flooded buildings 63
11 Domestic insurance cover 73
The insurance contract 74
The policy excess 74
Policy conditions and exclusions 75
Prompt notification 75
Non-disclosure 76
Sum insured 76
Maintenance and repair 77
Flood resilient repairs 77
12 Small businesses 79
Freehold, leasehold and tenancy issues 80
Scope of commercial insurance policies 81
Claims process 82
13 Identifying and managing the flooding risk
at a property 83
Susceptibility of contents and equipment 84
Susceptibility of buildings and fittings 85
Risk surveys 86
Flood event procedures 90
Using flood protection products – a guide for
purchasers 91
14 Flood protection and flood mitigation products 93
Existing standards 94
Other types of flood protection products 96
Underwriting and risk 97
References and useful websites and other
sources of information 99
When this guide was originally conceived in 2003, the intention was to fill a
gap in the marketplace by putting all relevant knowledge held by the
insurance and construction industries into a single document for those
involved with the problem or risk of flooding of property.
Overlying this new approach to dealing with flooding is the significant
problem of global warming. Whether or not projected rising sea levels are
realised, it is reasonable to suppose that global warming will lead to unusual
weather patterns and, in turn, greater incidence of flash flooding. Other,
often man-made, phenomena increase the likelihood of flooding – rising
water tables in some parts of the UK, for instance.
Against this background, we – the individual members of the Flood Repairs
Forum representing organisations in insurance, investigation, loss adjusting,
and construction and repair – have shared our knowledge and experience to
raise awareness of the key issues involved with flooding; and, out of this, to
suggest best practice. Through better understanding of the issues we are
confident that the service provided by the professional person, working with
the homeowner or tenant to repair, mitigate and prevent flood damage, will
lead to higher standards in repairing damage caused by flooding.
Over time we believe that the Forum’s collective experience will provide
improvements in the ways that we deal with flooding. So if this proves to be
only the first edition of many, we will know, in some part, that Repairing
flooded buildings will have achieved its purpose.
Our appreciation for the help in preparing this book goes to the British
Damage Management Association, and the many unnamed individuals and
organisations who gave us their time, all at no cost, in providing
contributions, advice and support.
Tony Boobier
for the Flood Repairs Forum
Members of
the Flood Repairs Forum
British Damage Management
Capita Insurance Services
Tony Boobier
Crawford and Company
Adjusters UK
Nick Clark
Cunningham Lindsey
United Kingdom
Richard Ayton-Robinson
Lloyds TSB Insurance
Ian Jones
Munters Ltd
Alistair Phillips
David Clifton
Norwich Union (Aviva Plc)
John Wickham
Royal & Sun Alliance Plc
Diana Blaskett
University of Wolverhampton
Professor David Proverbs
Victor Samwinga
ABI Association of British Insurers
BDMA British Damage Management Association
BSI British Standards Institution
CCTV controlled circuit television
CDM Construction (Design and Management) [Regulations]
CILA Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters
CIRIA Construction Industry Research and Information
CORGI Council for Registered Gas Installers
COSHH Control of Substances Hazardous to Health [Regulations]
EA Environment Agency
FPA Flood Protection Association
HIP Home Information Pack
MDF medium density fibreboard
N/A not applicable
NHBC National House-Building Council
NICEIC National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation
PAS Publicly Available Specification
PAT portable appliance testing
PPE personal protective equipment
PVC-U unplasticised polyvinyl chloride
RICS Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Flooding is an issue that is likely to affect both home occupiers – owners
and tenants – and the insurance industry for the foreseeable future. It
causes distress to property owners and occupants, and the technical
difficulties associated with the repair process can test experts to the limit.
The background to this guide arises from the recognition that
organisations in the insurance and construction industries can jointly
offer solutions which bring together the main parties to restore insured
property to its condition before the flooding event.
Since flooding invariably involves more than one property, this joint
industry approach often means involving all parties for all affected
properties working together to produce mutually satisfactory results.
Chapter 1
The River Severn floods
parts of Upton-upon-Severn
several times each year
It is with this in mind that a group of like-minded professionals started to
work together to create a manual of best practice aimed specifically,
although not exclusively, at the insurance industry, professionals within
that industry, and linked industries such as mortgage lending. It is not
entirely intended as being a stand alone document – indeed there is already
a great amount of data and information available elsewhere – but hopefully
it will provide a useful reference document if used in isolation.
The flow of the contents of the guide take the reader through the sequence
of events in a flood claim – from inspection, through the drying process, to
the recommendation of flood resistant repairs. In addition it assists those
who are perhaps less experienced in flood repairs to understand some of
the basic insurance and technical issues involved, and some elemental
requirements of customer care – recognising that inadequate
communication and management of expectation rests at the heart of many
of the difficulties that occur.
For the avoidance of doubt, this guide is concerned with ‘large bodies of
water’ – not the effects of small or isolated events such as in the case of a
burst water tank, although it is entirely feasible that some of the
considerations that apply to large events would also apply to small scale
The insurance and repair of flood damaged buildings is complex but
Repairing flooded buildings attempts to simplify and apply logical
organisation to these areas.
This chapter considers the appropriate skills and qualifications needed
for an individual to deal with complicated flood damage situations.
For reinstatement projects following flooding involving complex building
types, it is recommended that within the team there is a ‘technically
competent person’ who will act for all interested parties in an impartial
technical capacity to promote the satisfactory and appropriate repair of the
damage to the building to restore it to its pre-flooding state.
Currently there are no specific qualifications to reflect technical
competence for the full breadth of this topic. However in most cases, those
most likely to have the most knowledge and understanding will be (in no
specific order):
● building surveyors – probably, although not necessarily, members of
the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
● members of the British Damage Management Association (BDMA)
● members of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA).
There may also be other experts with suitable qualifications and
experience, such as Chartered Builders, Chartered Engineers and other
Chapter 2
Technical competence of the
remediation team
A technically competent
person will possess:
● a detailed knowledge of
design and construction
methods, techniques and
detailing appropriate to the
property in question
● knowledge and experience of
the effects of water on building
structures and components
● an understanding of
contemporary methods of drying
flooded buildings and
reinstatement methods.
To discharge their responsibilities properly in the case of a claim, the
technically competent person may need to seek specialist advice and
guidance from others. The following duties are expected:
● completing a risk assessment
● initial inspection, reviewing and recording of the pre-flooding condition
of an affected building, and the damage caused
● specifying and scoping the initial strip-out and flood mitigation
● evaluating drying requirements and other appropriate methods
● recording moisture readings (plot and plan survey)
● management of drying monitoring and issuing a ‘certificate of dryness’
● specifying and scoping repairs
● compiling a budget for repair costs
● administering Statutory Approvals
● ensuring that CDM procedures are adhered to – knowledge of the
practical application of CDM is essential
● managing party wall issues
● inspecting the quality of works for compliance with the repair
● certifying satisfactory completion of repairs and that the building is
restored to pre-flooding condition
● preparing a brief summary of the event for possible inclusion in the
‘Home Information Pack’ to be introduced by the Government in 2007.
Complex building types
Complex building types specifically requiring the involvement of a
technically competent person are defined as follows:
● historic and listed buildings
● buildings within a conservation area
● timber framed buildings
● buildings with concealed insulation
● buildings of non-standard construction
● buildings with basements or cellars
● buildings with structural problems
● buildings with complex mechanical and electrical services installations
● buildings which have been previously flooded
● buildings adapted for the disabled
● buildings where the method of construction is uncertain
● buildings that may contain hazardous materials
● buildings where restoration time or mitigation may be affected by
adjacent or attached properties
● buildings where drying programmes already implemented have not
provided adequate results
● buildings with water main risers, or interstitial cavities, which may be
seen as conduits to other properties.
Technical competence of the remediation team
This chapter considers the issues involved in the communications between
the professional team and the homeowner (who is usually the
policyholder) or occupant.
Communication is an essential part of the process of dealing with claims
and rehabilitation of a damaged building. Good communication manages
expectation throughout the life of the event, regardless of the uncertainties
that inevitably arise in damage of this nature.
One key issue is that of health and safety. In most cases, floodwater is
‘dirty’ by its very nature. The homeowner needs to be reassured that by
adopting a correct approach to drying and repairs, damage to health and
safety will be reduced or hopefully removed in its entirety.
Once drying is complete, repairs can commence but historically there have
always been issues as to when a property is suitably dry. This chapter
seeks to identify when that stage is reached. It is noted that there is no need
for a building to be absolutely ‘bone dry’ to allow the permanent works to
Equally, the customer should recognise that due to this uncertainty,
residual issues can emerge. These latent problems may not be taken as any
sign of negligence on the part of the professional team, all of whom will
usually act in good faith. They normally will seek to identify a balance
between adequate dryness and the degree of inconvenience of permanent
repairs being further delayed. This is not a precise science, and will differ
from property to property.
Only where there has been gross disregard for the most basic of criteria
should professional judgement be called into question, and independent
assessment called for.
Chapter 3
Managing the customer
contact process
Describing the various parties
involved in providing or using
insurance services, and ancillary
services, can be complicated.
As a general rule of thumb, the
customer is the person or
organisation that buys equipment
or products from a manufacturer
or supplier, or a service from a
The client is usually the
customer of an insurance or
finance provider.
The policyholder is a client of an
insurer (or insurance company).
The homeowner owns their
property and may also be a
customer, client or policyholder
as defined above.
Other terms may also be used
such as tenant, landlord and
householder who can be
described by some of the above.
Organisations involved in
providing insurance services and
in the remediation processes
following flooding are described
on the next page.
Policyholder contact – a staged approach
Communication with the policyholder throughout the life of a flood claim
is an essential part of the claims process, and is ideally delivered as the key
stages described below.
Stage 1 – Incoming claim from policyholder
This is the first key stage and involves the timely and accurate collection of
information. Information that is essential for processing a claim is shown
in a specimen form on the page opposite.
Information and advice for the policyholder to be given by the
insurance company or assistance company
● Advice about whether a third party is being appointed to assist them
with the claim. If so, the name of the company, a contact (where
possible) and telephone number should be given
● Providing the policyholder with a telephone number for the insurance
company in case they have a query regarding their claim
● A brief explanation of the role of the damage management company
● The claim should be checked for validity under the policy
● Explaining that the policyholder does have a choice about the contractor
used but costs must be agreed with the insurers before proceeding
● Providing any other information reasonably requested by the
policyholder, and details of any loss adjuster appointed by the insurance
company, and of the company’s representatives.
Advice to the policyholder on what they can do to help
● Windows to be opened if the weather is fine
● Electric sockets and fittings should not be used if they are affected by
water, always remembering that water is a highly efficient conductor of
electricity; and water in electrical equipment, circuits and appliances is
often not evident. Appliances connected to an electrical supply should
not be assumed to have effective earth protection or double-insulation.
When touching or moving mains electrical equipment and appliances,
they should first be disconnect them from the electrical supply. If
working on any part of an electrical system, only tools that are insulated
must be used
If in doubt, a qualified electrician should be consulted
Managing the customer contact process
Insurance company and
insurer are terms for the same
type of organisation.
An assistance company is often
engaged by insurers to help a
policyholder in mitigating and
reducing damage, and providing
emergency support.
A loss adjuster investigates
claims and determines the validity
and value of individual claims.
A damage management
company assists insurers and
policyholders in establishing what
needs to be done to rectify
damage by an insured event (eg
flooding of property) and to liaise
with policyholders and with
contractors that repair damage.
A contractor is usually a large
building firm (which might also
call itself a builder) that
undertakes work to repair
property, particularly buildings. It
may delegate work to specialist
subcontractors, ‘trades’ or
Managing the customer contact process
Name of the claimant
Address of the damaged property
Is the property being lived in?
If the property is uninhabitable, the temporary address of the
Telephone numbers of the claimant
As many as possible, including contact numbers at
temporary accommodation
Preferred method of communication with the claimant
For example, telephone, SMS text messaging or e-mail
Insurance cover information
● Policy number
● Commencement date
● Expiry date
● Types of cover
For example, buildings or contents or both; standard or extra
● Excess on policy
How much is it and how will it be collected?
● Claim reference number
Date of flooding event
Special circumstances of the claimants
For example, elderly, young, sick or disabled occupants;
language difficulties; asthma sufferers; allergic responses to chemicals
Is there still standing water in the property and, if so, how deep is it?
If the water if more than 6 inches deep, it will need pumping out by
the fire brigade or waiting until it subsides
Is there any power in the property?
Is the power isolated at the main or outside the property?
Does the adjacent property have power. Could there be risks of
electrical shock from a neighbouring property?
If the building’s electrics have been affected, has an electrician been
Who will appoint an electrician – policyholder, insurance
company, loss adjuster or damage management company.
If an electrician has already visited, was he qualified and
has he left a report or lock-out certificate?
What type of property is it?
House, bungalow or flat; detached, semi-detached or terraced
What rooms have been affected?
To provide a general understanding of the scope of the damage
What has been affected in the rooms?
To provide a general understanding of the scope of the damage
● If standing water is deep but outside water levels have subsided, it
should be pumped out – if necessary by the fire brigade
● As many undamaged items as possible should be moved to higher levels
or to upper storeys away from the floodwater.
Stage 2 – Communicating with the policyholder by a third party
assigned to the claim (for example, by a loss adjuster, assistance
company or damage management organisation)
● The third party should introduce themselves – preferably in person,
otherwise by telephone – to the policyholder and advise him or her of
their role in the claim process
● Where possible the policyholder should be given a named contact in
each organisation that has a role in dealing with the claim and told who
is responsible for appointing these named contacts
● The policyholder also should be given a telephone number and claim
reference number for each of these contacts
● The third party should confirm the details of the policyholder – postal
address details (in case they are in temporary accommodation), and
landline and mobile telephone numbers for daytime, evenings and
● If it is not possible to make contact with the policyholder within 24
hours of receiving the claim, a contact card should be posted to them.
Other possibilities may also be considered: that the occupant may have
moved out, the card may be posted onto a wet floor, or that telephones
may have been disconnected.
Stage 3 – The initial visit to the policyholder (for example, by a loss
adjuster or damage management company)
● Is the event covered under the terms of the insurance policy? If so, the
claim can be validated
● Fraudulent behaviour may be considered and any indicators checked
● The policyholder should be reassured that things will get better and their
problems treated sympathetically
● The process for handling the policyholder’s claim should be explained
● The reasons for the processes used to dry the property should also be
explained (eg removing wallpaper, plaster, and flooring to aid drying)
Managing the customer contact process
● The policyholder’s expectations of repair work should be established
from the outset, including giving an indication of how long the process
is likely to take
● The policyholder’s questions need to be answered clearly, without
using jargon
● An information leaflet should be left with the policyholder, with contact
numbers clearly shown
● They should be given a wallet or file that can be used to keep together
all the documentation relating to the claim and repair processes,
including information provided by all parties involved in these
processes, and especially a quick-reference list of contact numbers.
Stage 4 – Keeping the policyholder updated (for example, by a loss
adjuster, claims handler, contractor or damage management
Maintaining regular contact will be appreciated by the policyholder. This
should be done on a weekly basis by visiting, or by telephone, to confirm
progress with the claim and with repair work, and to update them on
estimated completion dates.
Stage 5 – Completion of work by contractors
Contractors and others involved in rehabilitation of the property should
advise the policyholder when their work has been completed. This can be
done by phone or in person but needs to be reinforced in writing.
Agreement should be sought by the contractor that the policyholder is
satisfied with the work undertaken and there are no outstanding issues
relating to the work they have undertaken. Acceptance of the repair work
by the policyholder verbally or in writing should not preclude additional
work in the event of unforeseen problems arising later.
Stage 6 – Completion of the claim by the insurance company
A final call should be made to the policyholder to confirm completion of
the claim and that they are satisfied with the outcome. The policyholder
should be asked if there are any outstanding problems or issues that need
to be resolved. A process will normally be in place to deal with any
outstanding concerns or the dissatisfaction of policyholder.
Managing the customer contact process
Stage 7 – Feedback
After completion of building work and the claims process a customer
satisfaction survey should be sent to the policyholder. The survey should
relate to all parties involved with the claim; that is:
● the insurance company
● the assistance company, if any
● the loss adjuster
● the repairers; that is, any damage management company, contractor,
specialist restorer, carpet supplier, replacement goods supplier etc
involved in the remediation programme.
The survey should cover all aspects of the claim (ie communication –
verbal and written – quality of work undertaken and overall impression) in
respect of each service provider. Only one survey should be carried out
covering all these aspects to avoid the customer being bombarded with
separate forms from each party.
Frequently asked questions
Why can’t I just go and hire some heaters to dry my property?
Heat alone will not dry out the fabric of a property and its contents. A hot
or warm atmosphere absorbs moisture from the walls, floors, furnishings
etc of a room (raising the relative humidity), but, until the air and its
moisture is carried away from the room, it will be retained there until it
condenses on colder surfaces or is reabsorbed into the walls, floors and
furnishings. Ventilation – opening windows, for example – is a more
significant factor in removing water and moisture from a room, but even
that can take time, particularly in windless conditions. Arguably a
combination of good ventilation with heat will produce the best results, but
for the small extra drying effect produced by the heat it is doubtful that it
could be said to be an economical measure.
Heat, moreover, if maintained at high levels for long spells can have
deleterious effects on materials used in buildings and furniture. Drying out
materials to very low moisture levels causes cracking; and while some
materials can tolerate embrittlement, cracking or loss of water content and
still recover (eg timber), others cannot without the detrimental effect being
potentially permanent (eg new cement or plaster).
Managing the customer contact process
Sources of flood information
for the property owner are:
Environment Agency (EA)
which provides comprehensive
information on its web site
EA’s flood warning service
tel 0845 933 3111,
EA’s Floodline
tel 0845 988 1188,
Should I turn my radiators on to dry the property?
The same applies with radiators as was explained in the answer to the
previous question: they may have a small beneficial effect by themselves,
but more so when combined with ventilation.
The reduction in moisture content of wood to a natural and sustainable
level of 20 to 22% within three weeks of saturation is an important step in
preventing rot taking hold. Effective ventilation is a very important
measure in drying out a building in a satisfactory time.
Is my property dry, because the screed floor looks nice and white?
Within the first few hours of drying a certain amount of evaporation takes
place from the surface whatever the degree of saturation within the
material. This gives the appearance of the material being dry which is
deceptive since decisions made regarding reinstatement (eg applying a
new floor covering) could be taken before the screed and substrate have
dried out properly. The ultimate result of precipitate action could be failure
of any new flooring material.
Will the flood affect the insulation in my cavity?
This depends on the depth of floodwater in the cavity and the type of
construction. The cavity should be inspected as part of the drying survey.
If the insulation has degraded it might have to be removed, or dried in situ.
The depth of standing water in a property may not be a good guide to the
level or height of moisture intrusion in the fabric.
How long will it take for mould to start to grow in my house after a
Mould spores will be found in most homes with no harmful effect. Mould
only becomes a problem when conditions within the property become out
of balance (eg following flooding) and in the corners of rooms where
damp, stale air cannot circulate.
Mould growth normally commences 2 to 3 days after the building
becomes wet. Where an efficient and effective drying programme has been
installed the potential for mould growth is greatly reduced. If the moisture
is removed quickly, mould growth will not occur as the contributory factor
in its growth has been removed.
I have underfloor heating. Will the floodwater affect it?
As soon as the water has subsided, an investigation will be made to
identify the level of damage within the floor. A decision can then be made
about the best method of remediation. In some cases, depending on the
level of damage, the underfloor can be successfully dried in situ.
Managing the customer contact process
This chapter provides recommendations for the information which should
be collected at the earliest opportunity to ensure the correct application of
skills and the degree of urgency required.
The first key element is the correct and consistent reporting of the scale of
the problem. This chapter provides a recommended template for a
standard flood damage condition report.
The report is not meant to replace current insurer reporting requirements
but should exist as a stand-alone document. It provides a comprehensive
summary of the findings of the professional at the time of first visit.
Chapter 4
Damage reporting and
collecting the ‘right’
Flooding caused by extreme weather
conditions and major infrastucture
catastrophes will invariably have
widespread effects and require
harmonised efforts by central and
local government, insurance
companies, utilities, contractors and
householders and landlords to return
conditions to their previous state
(Courtesy of BDMA/DRL)
Damage reporting and collecting the ‘right’ information
Name of building owner:
Weather conditions at time of inspection:
Age of building:
Type of construction:
Is English Heritage notification required?
Claim ref:
Project ref:
Date of inspection:
Damage reporting and collecting the ‘right’ information
Roof coverings
Condition and defects:
Chimney stacks and flashings
Condition and defects:
Surface water drainage
Condition and defects:
Foul drainage
Condition and defects:
Main walls
Condition and defects:
Cellar or basement
Condition and defects:
Ground floor
Condition and defects:
First floor
Condition and defects:
Damage reporting and collecting the ‘right’ information
Condition and defects:
Water supply, and plumbing and sanitary fittings
Condition and defects:
Electricity supply and electrical equipment
Condition and defects:
Gas supply and gas appliances
Condition and defects:
Internal decoration
Condition and defects:
Condition and defects:
Fireplaces and chimney breasts
Condition and defects:
Internal partitions
Condition and defects:
Damage reporting and collecting the ‘right’ information
Other information
● List of fixtures and fittings
● Evidence of previous or historic damage (ie stains, odour, cracking, peeling)
● Comments on maintenance defects not related to flood damage
● Height of flood level (eg indicated by staining)
● Date of event report
● Date of first contact by insurance representative
● Date of first attendance
● Date of start of remedial work and installation of drying programme
● Specific recommendations
Surveyor’s or inspector’s signature:
[A suitable disclaimer should also be included]
The following chapters provide an overview of some of the key technical
issues involved in repairing flood damaged properties, and with drying
standards, methods of drying, typical equipment and methods of
In many cases of flood damaged buildings the most
appropriate method to be used needs to be decided
by the expert, with full knowledge and
understanding of the facts and conditions. For this
reason there has been no attempt to prescribe the
most appropriate solution for any given
It is also recognised that there continue to be
advances in drying technology which are the subject
of continued discussion and debate between
industry experts. It is not the intention of this guide
to contribute to that debate, but rather to provide a
basic understanding of the methods and equipment
Further detailed information is also available in the
Construction Industry Research and Information
Association (CIRIA) publication Flood damaged
which complements this guide.
Chapter 5
A general guide to drying
After all standing water has subsided, drying out
continues by removing waterlogged and damaged
carpets, furniture and fittings – virtually everything in
contact with water or moisture which is not part of the
fabric of the building
(Courtesy of BDMA/DRL)
Minimum drying standards
When can a building that has been affected by water be considered dry?
The underlying principal that has guided the development of a minimum
standard of drying effectiveness is that the moisture levels found in the
property after the damage should be reduced to levels that existed before
the flooding.
The building materials and general structure of the property – floors, walls
ceilings, doors etc – must be returned to their pre-flooding moisture
condition. These criteria must be achieved before it can be accepted that
drying equipment and services are no longer required; they would be
considered sufficient when the following have been achieved.
● The condition of internal construction materials is at or better than that
normally considered acceptable, or compares favourably with areas not
associated with the flood
● The moisture on and in the building materials will not support the
growth of mould and mildew
● The levels of trapped or bound water within the building envelope,
construction materials or contents will not migrate or transfer to areas
or surfaces which may promote mould growth, cause failure or damage
to areas restored or repaired, or damage to previously unaffected areas.
A general guide to drying
Primary and secondary damage
Primary damage is caused directly by floodwater penetrating building
materials and components to the extent that they are permanently or
temporarily affected and unable to maintain the functions for which they
were designed or produced.
Secondary damage is caused after the initial flooding, typically by the
migration or movement of water or moisture from the initial flooded areas
to areas clearly not previously affected. It is usually avoidable by prompt
action following the flooding event.
A normal, well maintained building has a low level of moisture held in the
building structure – too low to support the growth of fungi. Most moulds
and other forms of fungi do not grow in conditions where the moisture
levels are in equilibrium throughout the property, and safely below levels
that encourage growths. After a flood event this balance is disturbed.
When water soaks into a building and its materials, they become wet
enough to support fungal growths and drying out is therefore essential.
Additionally, as water evaporates from these wet materials it can travel as
moisture in the air and be absorbed by other materials remote from the area
initially affected.
Damage from fungal growths is considered to be secondary damage and is
avoided by early action. It is generally accepted that some growth will
occur within 2 to 3 days of the building being affected by water, coupled
with resultant high levels of humidity.
Where secondary damage occurs and there has been no fault on the part of
anyone involved, insurers will usually deal with this damage as part of the
original claim. Drying advice and methods to avoid secondary damage are
given also in CIRIA’s publication, Flood damaged property
A general guide to drying
Triage, clearance and cleaning
The remediation phase after flooding should follow a common sense
approach. The following points should be considered.
Damage inspection
Identifying the full extent of primary damage and possible secondary
damage will provide the necessary information to undertake the following
triage assessment.
Triage assessment
This is the assessment and planning of the most pressing actions required
to mitigate or control the damage. The outcome of triage usually requires
action within the first few hours (the golden hours) after the floodwaters
have receded. Typically this is when obvious salvageable house contents
are moved out of harm’s way in order of greatest value or significance.
Before any building, drying or restoration work can commence, the
affected areas must be cleared to allow cleaning and decontamination. This
must be seen as a first step, but taking photographs, logging all actions and
obtaining loss adjuster’s or insurer’s permission before disposing of
insured damaged items are a necessary part of this process.
Floods of all types will bring into the home a variety of contaminants and,
while wet, they are generally prevented from becoming airborne. It is
therefore sensible to remove these contaminants while they are still wet
together with the silt often associated with flooding. Simple personal
protective equipment (PPE) will be needed to provide the required safe
conditions where silts have already dried.
Using garden hoses or power jetting can significantly speed this cleaning
and contaminant removal operation, but, where thick deposits are present,
shovels may be a better choice.
No attempt should be made to dry the building until all wet cleaning has
been accomplished although starting to dry out upstairs areas by
ventilation can be considered. Removing perimeter floorboards to reduce
the effects of swollen boards pressing against and damaging walls should
also be considered.
A general guide to drying
The whole area of health and safety is complex, and the following chapter
serves simply to provide an aide-mémoire to the key issues involved, as far
as flood damage is concerned. Companies involved in the remediation
process also owe a duty of care to the occupants of a building which is as
great as their duty of care to individual employees.
Guidance should be based on generic risk assessments (pages 25 to 33),
which specifically refer to:
● who might be harmed
● evaluation of risk
● preventive measures.
Primary legal standards applicable
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
It is the employer’s duty to ensure health and safety of employees at work;
in particular:
● to provide safe systems of work
● to provide training, instruction, supervision and information to ensure
health and safety
● to provide arrangements for use, handling, transport and storage of
articles and substances
● to ensure health and safety of others affected by the work.
It is the employee’s duty to take reasonable care of themselves and others
who may be affected by acts or omissions at work; and to cooperate with
the employer on health and safety measures.
Chapter 6
Health and safety in flood
damage repair
Health and Safety Executive:
HSE Infoline
0845 345 0055
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
It is the employer’s duty:
● to carry out risk assessments
● to identify, plan, implement control and monitor preventive measures
● to provide information and training to employees
● to encourage coordination and cooperation between employees where
the workplace is shared.
It is the employee’s duty to work in accordance with training and
information provided for health and safety, and to notify the employer of
serious and imminent danger, or health and safety shortcomings.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
It is the employer’s duty:
● to assess the risk of exposure to hazardous substances
● to avoid exposure (or, if not possible, control the levels of exposure) to
hazardous substances.
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE)
It is the employer’s duty:
● to assess the risk of exposure to hazardous substances
● to avoid exposure (or, if not possible, control the levels of exposure) to
hazardous substances by providing and maintaining PPE
● to provide protection to employees against exposure to risks which
cannot be controlled by alternative means that are more or equally
effective as PPE
● to provide information and training to employees for using PPE.
Risk assessments also must specifically identify issues relating to confined
spaces under the Confined Space Regulations 1997 and how appropriate
measures should be implemented.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
General risk assessment processes
The intention of this section is to provide general guidance to all parties
involved in a flood claim situation. The generic risk assessment identifies
typical hazards, risks and preventive actions.
Following this guidance will not guarantee full compliance with all health
and safety regulations in all claims situations. It will always be necessary
to assess general guidance against the unique circumstances at each work
site and, where required, to carry out further site-specific risk assessments.
Even when generic assessments are deemed to provide satisfactory control
of the hazards present, a record that this assessment has been undertaken
must be made.
Overall management of health and safety has to be achieved by verifying
the competency of suppliers on health and safety matters when they are
appointed, followed by an effective programme of auditing and review of
a representative sample of work.
The responsibility for the management of health and safety on site has to
remain with the individual organisations relative to the nature of their
involvement with the claim. It is not possible for the insurance company or
the loss adjuster or any other organisation to monitor health and safety
issues remotely other than via the periodic audit and review arrangements
mentioned above.
All suppliers must have an effective system for providing training and
information for, and supervision of, employees. Supervision is
particularly important due to the often small numbers of workers
(sometimes lone workers) on site and the transient nature of the work.
Regular monitoring of compliance with health and safety by employees on
site, by auditing documentation, is an essential element of an effective
management system.
Implementation of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work
Regulations is frequently employed as a control measure. It should be
recognised, though, that this is the method of last resort if a risk remains
after all other options to eliminate or reduce it have been applied. It is not
sufficient to simply make PPE available. There has to be adequate training
in its use and maintenance, and monitoring to ensure that it is used where
necessary and in the correct manner.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Asbestos, in particular where found in decorative textured surface
coatings, is a problematical area since only licensed contractors are
allowed to work on asbestos products. An agreed industry wide approach
to handling claims involving asbestos is recommended. The Association
of British Insurers (ABI) are currently investigating what best practice
guidance can or should be given to its members. The main objective
should be to ensure a consistent, legally compliant, safe method of
working for all involved in claims for and the repair of flooded property.
The health implications of contaminants in floodwater can often be
misunderstood. Care must be taken to ensure workers have appropriate
information and support on health related issues. A good example would
be the issue of Weil’s Disease information cards for employees who
potentially may come into contact with the leptospirosis bacteria.
It is widely recognised that the greatest risk to an individual’s safety is
drowning in the floodwaters; and, for the general public who are the
victims of flooding, illness caused by the stress of being in a flood
situation. It is important that public health experts are asked to assist with
educating the general public in this area so that these and other fears are
brought into perspective. The information provided on the CIRIA web site
is one example of this type of education. This information is part of an
initiative supported by the ABI.
Consideration could be given to the inclusion of similar simple health and
hygiene advice in documents (or other forms of communication) provided
by insurers to their policyholders in connection with flood claims.
Providing appropriate welfare facilities for all people living and working
on flood sites is also important to ensure that satisfactory standards of
hygiene can be maintained. Often for lone workers making short duration
visits – such as loss adjusters – the provision of suitable washing facilities
can be problematical. Where washing facilities are not available, a supply
of disposable protective gloves and other PPE should be provided.
Guidance on cleaning or disposing of contaminated PPE and on basic
hygiene should be given to employees.
In large scale flood situations, coordinated arrangements should be made
to provide temporary washing facilities, with hot and cold running water,
for shared use at the site. When clean water is not immediately available,
anti-bacterial wipes and similar products for cleaning hands should be
Guidance to the user of risk assessments is given in the immediately
following pages. Draft forms for preparing a health and safety risk
assessment are shown on pages 34 to 44.
Construction Industry
Research and Information
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Key to risk assessment user guide
People at risk (P) – abbreviations
Emp Employee
Con Contractor
Pub Public
Vis Visitor
Definitions of risk
Hazard Anything with the potential to cause harm or loss
Likelihood (L) Probability that the hazard will cause harm or loss
Severity (S) Amount of harm or loss that will (most probably) result
Risk level Product of likelihood and severity
Revised risk (RR) Revised risk after application of existing controls
Final risk (FR) Final risk after application of additional controls
Severity ratings
5 Very high Death(s), permanent incapacity or widespread loss
4 High Major injury (notifiable category), severe incapacity or serious loss
3 Moderate Injury, illness requiring three days or more absence (reportable category)
or moderate loss
2 Slight Minor injury or illness, immediate first aid only or slight loss
1 Negligible No or trivial injury, illness or loss
Likelihood ratings
5 Almost certain
4 Likely
3 Evens chance
2 Unlikely
1 Improbable
Risk levels
25 – 16 High Immediate action to identify and implement control measures – work
should stop if danger is imminent
15 – 6 Medium Action plan to identify or implement controls – time period commensurate
with risk level (eg higher risk, shorter period)
5 – 1 Low No action required
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Slips, trips, falls and strikes by building materials
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Falls into open manholes, Emp 5 3 15 Existing general risk assessment (5;2) 10 Entering floodwater to be (5;1) 5
trenches etc hidden by Con process for employees visiting avoided unless the ground or
floodwater Pub remote (eg previously unseen) route details are known
premises with certainty
Falls through wooden floors Emp 4 3 12 Existing general risk assessment (4;1) 4 Floor areas to be avoided if (4;1) 4
made structurally unsound Con process for employees visiting structural integrity not certain
by water damage Pub remote premises
Being hit by falling building Emp 4 3 12 Existing general risk assessment (4;1) 4 Building and building fabric to (4;1) 4
materials or components (eg Con process for employees visiting be made safe before entering
ceilings made structurally Pub remote premises potential collapse zone
unsound by water damage
Slipping on wet or slippery Emp 3 3 9 Identify as part of general risk (3;1) 3 Areas of potential slipperiness (3;1) 3
surfaces, whether hidden Con assessment process to be avoided; otherwise boots
by floodwater or not Pub with slip resistant soles to be
Trips over ground or building Emp 3 3 9 Existing general risk assessment (3;2) 6 None (3;1) 3
features hidden by Con process for employees visiting
floodwater Pub remote premises
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Potential for drowning in Emp 5 3 15 Existing general risk assessment (5;2) 10 Careful consideration of location (5;1) 5
floodwater. Factors can Con process for employees visiting with regard to this hazard.
include, for example, deep Pub remote premises Entering floodwater where these
water; fast flowing or rising potential hazards exist is not
water; entrapment; advised
unconsciousness; and
failure to identify water
course location in general
floodwater. Risk also applies
to driving (eg by entering
floodwater en route to
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Electrocution due to earthing Emp 5 3 15 Existing general risk assessment (5;2) 10 Pre-visit enquiries to establish if (5;1) 5
of live electrical apparatus Con process for employees visiting electricity supply is isolated or
via floodwater or wet Pub remote premises not. Building containing
surfaces floodwater not to be entered nor
appliances to be touched until
isolation of electricity supply
is confirmed. Occupants to be
similarly advised
Emp – Employee P – People at risk RR – Revised risk
Con – Contractor S – Severity FR – Final risk
Pub – Public L – Likelihood
Vis – Visitor R – Risk level
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Hazardous substances – chemical
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Potential contamination of Emp 4 3 12 Existing risk assessment (4;3) 12 Pre-visit review should be carried (4;1) 4
floodwater with wide variety Con procedures may lead to out to establish if flood zone has
of unidentified hazardous Pub detecting some chemicals by involved leakage of chemicals
chemicals (eg fertilisers, smell or by observation of slicks from any industrial, agricultural
petroleum and diesel fuel, etc on water surface. However or other sources. For large scale
‘DIY’ chemicals found in it may not be possible to detect flooding, Environment Agency,
homes, etc) contaminants in all cases. local authority or fire services to
Wellington boots, coveralls and be contacted for information;
disposable nitrile gloves should their advice to be followed where
be worn to protect from minor significant escape of hazardous
splashes chemicals is confirmed. In general,
floodwater should be prevented
from contacting skin directly or by
wetting of clothing. Avoidance of
contact with chemicals is a primary
objective since hazardous nature
and concentration or dilution of
chemicals is impossible to predict
and PPE will provide only basic
protection. (Controls described in
tables for biological substances,
confined spaces, and fire and
explosion are also relevant)
Other hazardous substances Emp 4 3 12 Same as for controls described (4;3) 12 Same as for controls described (4;1) 4
made by mixing chemicals Con above above
with floodwater Pub
Hazardous substances – biological
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
General contamination of Emp 4 3 12 The existing risk assessment (4;3) 12 It must always be assumed that (4;1) 4
floodwater with wide variety Con process may be used to identify floodwater from external sources
of unidentified hazardous Pub obvious visible evidence or (ie not from building’s clean water
biological agents (eg viral odours of sewage in floodwater. supply) will be contaminated.
and bacterial) typically from Normally it will not be possible to The following, then, should apply.
sewage or contamination detect contamination due to ● Avoiding direct contact with
normally found in water hazardous biological agents floodwater
courses (eg bacteria that ● Wearing PPE (eg coveralls,
cause Weil’s Disease) gloves and wellington boots)
but also floodwater (even ● Not smoking (table, page 32,
localised) in contact with on fire and explosion also applies)
contamination from other ● Not eating in contaminated
sources of waste, material areas or before washing to
randomly on the ground prevent ingestion of bacteria etc
surfaces (eg dog and ● Good personal hygiene (eg
animal fouling etc). Typical washing hands and face as soon
diseases and conditions as possible after encountering
are listed on next page contamination, including unclean
● Protecting wounds with
waterproof dressings
● Preventing cross-contamination
(eg, between equipment, files and
paperwork) and contamination of
other environments; or
transferring information to clean
paper, and disinfecting equipment
● Washing PPE (or throwing
away if disposable), including
preventing cross-contamination,
and maintaining personal hygiene
during handling.
Typical viral or bacterial infections
and associated symptoms, and
precautions, are given on next page
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Hazardous substances – biological (cont)
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
If symptoms occur following
contact with contaminated
floodwater, a doctor should be
consulted and the health and
safety officer be notified
Weil’s disease is a serious Emp 4 3 12 The existing risk assessment (4;3) 12 Additional controls (as shown (4;1) 4
but less common form of Con process may be used to identify earlier in table) should be followed,
leptospirosis infections, Pub obvious visible evidence or avoiding contact with water or
causing organ damage and odours of sewage in floodwater. wet surfaces.
jaundice; it can be fatal. Normally it will not be possible to Features of infection are as
Many leptospirosis detect contamination due to follows.
infections do not become hazardous biological agents ● Onset of symptoms is rapid
so serious though all after the infection event
require prompt treatment. (4 – 10 days)
Leptospirosis bacteria are ● Initial symptoms are similar to
transmitted to fresh water those for cold or influenza (eg
(salt water kills them) from fever, chills, muscular aches and
animal urine, especially of pains, loss of appetite, and nausea
rats. They are very common when lying down)
in water courses of all ● Later and more serious
kinds, not just foul drains. symptoms are anaemia, bruising
Infection is usually through of skin, nosebleeds, sore eyes
cuts, or by direct contact and jaundice. If initial symptoms
of nose or mouth with are suspected as being related to
infected water contact with the bacteria,
treatment should be sought as
soon as possible, advising the
doctor that leptospirosis infection
is suspected
Hepatitis. In relation to Emp 3 2 6 As shown above (3;2) 6 Additional controls as above. (3;1) 3
floodwater risks, this Con Incubation period of infection 2 –
appears to be limited to the Pub 6 weeks. Many patients have no
Hepatitis A and E viruses symptoms, some feel off-colour
(though E is not common in for a few days. Full symptoms
the UK) which are spread include tiredness, weakness,
by contact and ingestion of muscle pains and headaches
water contaminated with followed by loss of appetite,
infected faeces. (Hepatitis nausea, vomiting and discomfort
B, C and D are spread by on the right side of the upper
contact with infected blood abdomen (region of the liver)
or body fluids only)
Gastroenteritis. Caused Emp 3 3 9 As shown above (3;3) 9 Additional controls as above. (3;1) 3
by various forms of Con Many patients have no symptoms,
bacteria in floodwater Pub some feel off-colour for a few
days. Symptoms include
tiredness, weakness, muscle
pains and headaches followed by
loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
Tetanus. Caused by a Emp 5 3 15 As shown above (5;2) 10 Additional controls generally as (5;1) 5
bacterium entering the Con above, focussing on disinfecting
body via a wound. Pub and protecting cuts and wounds.
Although rare in the UK Anti-tetanus injection may be
due to immunisation given, even if personal programme
programme, tetanus can of injections is up-to-date.
be fatal Symptoms appear 2 – 21 days
after infection as stiff muscles
near the wound followed by
stiffening of jaw until locked in
position; frequent and painful fits
and muscle spasms.
Immunisation against the disease
is commonly available at GP
surgeries and hospitals
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Hazardous substances – biological (cont)
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Moulds are a type of fungus Emp 4 3 12 Existing risk assessment process (4;2) 8 Areas of mould should be (4;1)4
that can develop on wet Con should lead to visual identification avoided, particularly ensuring
building materials given Pub of mould that spores are not disturbed
specific conditions. Spores that would lead to inhalation or
from moulds can cause skin contact. If work requires
allergic reactions, cleaning and disturbance of
respiratory irritation, skin or mould, this must be carried out
eye irritation. People with by trained personnel in
pre-existing conditions of compliance with a specific risk
this type are particularly assessment and guidance note
vulnerable. Some toxic so that unprotected individuals
strains of mould can cause are not exposed.
more significant ill health In most cases mould will not have
problems developed at the time of early
initial visits, though this will not
include locations where wet
conditions have been left
untreated for some time (usually
well in excess of 3 days)
Confined spaces and asphyxiation
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
In addition to drowning risks Emp 5 3 15 Existing risk assessment process (5;2) 10 Suspect areas should not be (5;1) 5
it is also possible that toxic Con to identify potential hazard areas entered unless it is certain that
gases or vapours produced Pub atmosphere is free from toxic
from floodwater borne gases and vapours. Odour will not
chemicals could be present always be present to provide
in confined spaces. Typically warning – in particular caution
this would be a cellar, but should be exercised in areas that
also any enclosed space appear to have had no ventilation
where there is little or no for some time. Advisable that
ventilation. Gases and arrangements should be made
vapours may be toxic in their for ventilation before entry
own right or may have
displaced the air required
for normal respiration.
Unconsciousness (see also
drowning) or asphyxiation
could result
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Asbestos fibres from Emp 3 3 9 Existing specific asbestos (3;1) 3 Damaged asbestos-containing (3;1) 3
asbestos-containing Con procedures materials (ACMs) will usually be
building products may be Pub wet, minimising the risk of
liberated when these airborne fibres although
products are damaged waterborne spread could occur.
by floodwater Mechanical drying or ventilation
of contaminated areas should not
be attempted until damaged ACMs
have been identified and removed
for disposal by competent
Emp – Employee P – People at risk RR – Revised risk
Con – Contractor S – Severity FR – Final risk
Pub – Public L – Likelihood
Vis – Visitor R – Risk level
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Fire and explosion
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
The risks may be similar to Emp 5 3 15 Many flammable vapours will have (5;2) 10 Areas of suspected flammability (5;1) 5
those described in the table Con an identifiable odour – existing should be avoided unless it is
on biological substances Pub risk assessment process can be certain that atmosphere is free
(pages 29 – 31) where used to identify potential hazard from flammable gases and
flammable vapours or vapours. Areas that appear to
gases may be present from have had no ventilation for some
floodwater borne chemicals time should be treated particularly
(eg petrol, solvents etc). carefully. To prevent fire or
These may collect in explosion, no smoking, no
enclosed spaces in sufficient naked lights and no activation of
concentrations to be ignited electrical equipment (including
by naked flames or sparks. mobile phones) which may cause
sparks should be allowed.
Arrangements should be made
for safe ventilation and dissipation
of vapours as soon as possible
If flooding has caused Emp 5 2 10 During existing risk assessment (5;2) 10 Areas suspected of damage 5;1) 5
structural damage, it is Con process, detection of gas must should be kept well clear of. To
possible that gas supply Pub be exercised with vigilance prevent fire or explosion, no
pipes may have been smoking, no naked lights and no
damaged causing gas naked lights and no activation of
leakage with the risk of electrical equipment (including
explosion mobile phones) which may cause
sparks should be allowed. Gas
supply company should be
contacted urgently
Short circuiting electrical Emp 4 2 8 Same as for controls described (4;1) 4 Same as for controls described (4;1) 4
apparatus may also cause Con in table on electrocution (page 28) in table on electrocution (page 28)
fires Pub
Additional hazards introduced by working processes
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
Chemical substances used Emp 3 3 9 Individual COSHH assessments (3;1) 3 None (3;1) 3
for cleaning, disinfecting etc Con and guidance notes or work
Pub instructions for each chemical.
Vis Only trained personnel should
use hazardous materials
Electric shock from Emp 4 2 8 All electrical equipment must be (4;1) 4 None (4;1) 4
appliances for drying and Con PAT tested on site immediately
dehumidifying, including Pub prior to installation
extension leads Vis
Risk of tripping over trailing Emp 3 4 12 Cables to be run at high level or (3;1) 3 None (3;1) 3
cables and extension leads Con taped to floors for complete
lengths. Leads to be kept to
minimum lengths, and not run
Pub across access points and
Vis routes
Manual handling (eg of Con 4 4 16 All work to be carried out in (4;1) 4 None (4;1) 4
waste materials, pumping Pub compliance with manual handling
equipment etc) Vis risk assessment and guidance
note. All operatives employed on
restoration work to be trained in
safe practices
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Additional hazards introduced by working processes (cont)
Hazard identified P S L R Existing controls RR Any additional controls FR
When confined spaces (eg Con 5 3 15 Existing general risk assessment (5;2) 10 Areas suspected of having toxic (5;1) 5
underfloor voids) are process to be used to identify gases and vapours in the air
decontaminated following potential hazardous areas should not be entered.Odours will
flooding, toxic gases and not always be present to provide
vapours may be produced warnings and particular caution
from floodwater borne should be taken where areas
chemicals or for chemicals appear to have had no ventilation
used for decontamination to for some time. Arrangements
present a hazard. Typically should be made for ventilation
this might happen in a cellar, before entry. Work should comply
but also any enclosed space with specific risk assessment and
where there is little or no guidance for the activity and space
ventilation. Gases and available. Only personnel trained in
vapours may be toxic in confined space working should
their own right or may have carry out decontamination and
displaced the air required repair work
for normal respiration
Stripping out and Emp 3 4 12 People not involved with the (3;2) 6 Risk assessments and guidance (3;1) 3
reinstatement of affected Con specific work activities should be notes for the specific work
materials. Reinstatement Pub excluded from the work area activities should be complied with.
work, by its nature, can Vis while operations are underway. All personnel carrying out work
be hazardous, possibly Work areas must be made safe at the site should be trained to
requiring elements of the against unauthorised access relevant safety standards
building fabric to be when no one is working on site
removed and replaced
(eg floorboards or
plaster from walls)
Disposal of flood affected Con 3 4 12 All waste must be disposed of in Site cleanliness is vital. (3;1) 3
property and general waste. Pub compliance with the relevant (3;2) 6 Waste must not be allowed to
Waste materials and Vis regulations. accumulate and must be
contents can represent a removed from site at the end of
significant hazard each working day.
Skips, if left on site overnight,
must have lockable lids and must
be secured when not being used.
Open skips must be removed by
end of each working day.
Saturated home contents (eg
carpets and soft furnishings) must
not be stored in gardens overnight.
Materials can be carried away from
site in vehicles or placed in skips
delivered to site. Whatever method
is used, waste must only be
transported by companies holding
valid certificate issued by the local
enforcing authority
Emp – Employee P – People at risk RR – Revised risk
Con – Contractor S – Severity FR – Final risk
Pub – Public L – Likelihood
Vis – Visitor R – Risk level
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Health and safety in flood damage repair
The project comprises various works to individual properties to achieve a like-for-like reinstatement following
flooding. Generally the work comprises replacing timber flooring, skirtings, kitchen units etc; wall plasters and
finishes; electrical, gas and oil installations; boiler servicing and repairs etc; and redecoration.
The project manager’s schedule outlines the scope of these works.
Health and safety
It is the employer’s policy to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, no accidents or incidents occur
to any person employed on or visiting the site.
Pre-construction health and safety plan
The pre-construction health and safety plan is provided to give the contractor accurate information and
instruction for all people engaged on the project, to enable them to adequately control any known hazards or
specific requirements, and to reduce accidents during contract, occupation, cleaning and maintenance
Construction phase health and safety plan
The construction phase health and safety plan developed by the appointed contractor must adequately
address all the hazards and specific requirements for safety concerned with this project. This is to ensure –
as far as is reasonably practicable – the health, safety and welfare of all those involved in damage remedial
work or visiting the site, and of the general public and building occupants.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
CDM client: UK Insurance Company
CDM client’s agent: ABC Insurance Services
Policyholder: Mr and Mrs J Smith
Project Administrator: Mr K Fisher, Ken Fisher Insurance Services,
(and address) 1–10 Frobisher Road,
Angforth-by-Sea RE50 0XY
Planning Supervisor: Mr A Shepherd, W A Frensham & Co,
(and address) 11–20 Downs Street,
Farmington FR1 10YZ
Health & Safety Executive area office: Central Midlands Area Office,
21–30 Parkway Road,
Site location: 100 Lock Road, Marsham Thatchett, Lowlandshire
Property and site description: Semi-detached house in residential location
Description of the works: Repair and reinstatement following flood damage
Timescale for works: Anticipated 12 weeks, commencing March 2006
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Traffic systems and restrictions
The property is located in a residential road. There are no specific parking restrictions immediately outside
the house. However, limited set down will apply to the public highway. Council permission will be required for
any skips that are to be positioned on the highway. The contractor should ensure that these permissions are
obtained. The positioning must not cause hazard by obstruction to vehicles or pedestrians.
Surrounding land uses and related restrictions
The house is situated in a quiet residential area with no known restrictions. Access is by a concrete drive to
the front of the property. The property does not have listed status, nor lie within any conservation area. There
is adequate space for material set down and storage. These areas to be agreed with the property owner.
Hazards in structures
There are no known hazardous materials in the existing construction. It must be assumed that the floodwater
contained contaminants and that they will be present in the property.
Ground conditions
A ground condition survey is not considered necessary for these works. However the structures, as a result,
must be considered contaminated by absorption, or have infiltrated the cavities and under floors. The
contractor should ensure adequate and appropriate PPE is available and used against any contamination
Services and utilities
The position of any underground services is not known and the contractor should make the necessary
enquiries to determine service runs.
The contractor must note the location of any overhead lines – if necessary helped by individual service
providers – before commencing works. All those working on the site, and all other people who need to know
and are likely to be affected by the works must be notified.
Isolation of any service will be advised by the service provider to all appropriate people and those who need to
know. However, the contractor, with the help of the service provider, must verify the condition of every service
before starting work to ensure it has not been interfered with and is not in a dangerous condition.
The contractor should exercise extreme caution with the testing and subsequent reinstatement of all forms of
power, especially the electrical supply, since, in the case of faulty installation, fault paths could be found via
any metallic conductor or water-saturated surface. The human body is a good conductor. Anyone who could
come into contact with electrical currents should wear rubber soled footwear and, if possible, insulating gloves.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
There are no drawings or construction details for the building.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Significant hazards (including health hazards) identified by the designer
The designer must also apply the hierarchy of risk control and avoid all foreseeable risks.
The property has suffered heavy flood damage, possibly involving sewage. Hepatitis A, leptospirosis (Weil’s
Disease is an acute form) and salmonella poisoning are all implicated with floodwater. The contractor must
take appropriate precautions against the risks of contracting these diseases including making arrangements
for good personal hygiene, and providing appropriate PPE, welfare facilities and information to occupiers, site
workers and visitors.
General requirements for consideration of health and safety are contained within the Preliminaries and
Specification documents.
Special precautions must be specified by the designer when dealing with significant hazards including:
deep, stagnant or contaminated water temporary support (eg propping)
asbestos or hazardous substances making safe and repairing gas installations
flammable products making safe and repairing electrical installations
low light levels any other designed works that create a
scaffolding access to external elevations significant hazard.
The principles of the structural design and required work sequences
The contractor should follow an agreed method statement for replacing the electrical, gas and plumbing
installations, with work sequences using safe working practices.
Specific problems and issues
Breaking out, saw cutting, demolition and drilling will create high levels of building dust and debris.
Appropriate precautions should be taken by providing equipment and training for using PPE, and by damping
down airborne dust.
Heavy flood damage has occurred and precautions are to be taken in the event of contamination.
The electrical, gas and plumbing systems have been damaged. These systems will need to be made safe.
These works should not restrict access to the property.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
In respect of the proposed works, the contractor’s attention is drawn to the possible hazards in using the
following materials, products and waste products:
dust when disc cutting (or processing) masonry, stone and concrete
electrical cabling and equipment
sparks from steel cutting equipment
gas pipework and appliances.
Precautions are to be taken by providing appropriate PPE and training employees in its use. All materials and
products should be handled, stored, prepared, fixed and used in accordance with their manufacturers’
instructions and recommendations. In respect of the proposed works, the contractor’s attention is drawn to
the possible hazards in operations with the following plant and equipment:
electrical equipment
compressed air equipment
petrol and diesel generators
vibration and noise from plant and hand held tools.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Positioning of site access and exit points
Access and exit points to and from the site should be via the front garden or driveway unless, for example,
safety issues determine another arrangement. These routes are to be kept free of obstructions by vehicles,
materials, skips etc.
Site accommodation
The site/property will be not be occupied and the security of the building will be vested in the contractor
during the works.
However, the contractor will need to make arrangements for the availability of water, electric and toilet
facilities. Any use of domestic facilities will need to be agreed with the homeowner.
Unloading, layout and storage areas
Setting down of materials and skips should be on the the front road with subsequent storage on site to be
agreed with the project administrator.
Set down and storage must not impinge on the access unless agreed with the respective parties.
Vehicle and pedestrian routes
Existing vehicle and pedestrian access routes are to be maintained. Any restriction in these routes is to be
agreed with the project administrator, homeowner and local authority. Their approval should be obtained in
Health and safety in flood damage repair
The property will not be occupied by the homeowner/policyholder.
Repair work will be the responsibility of the contractor.
Health and safety in flood damage repair
General rules
The Preliminaries and Specification document gives general requirements for the conduct of the contractors
while on site.
People working on the site
All persons working on site are deemed to have adequate skills and training to undertake their work task in a
correct and safe manner.
Safety equipment
Appropriate safety equipment should be provided, and its use stipulated, by the contractor in accordance with
current legislation.
Accidents and first aid
The contractor must ensure that a qualified first aider is on site during work and that a suitable first aid kit is
always maintained at the site. An accidents book should be kept on site and all accidents and incidents,
however minor, recorded in the book. Serious injuries must be recorded on site, and reported as required by
Health and safety in flood damage repair
Liaison with the Planning Supervisor
Any proposed change that affects the design or works, or increases hazard levels as a result of unforeseen
circumstances, should be immediately notified (with advice on health and safety implications) to the Planning
Supervisor for coordination and recording in the health and safety file.
Information required for the health and safety file
The contractor should provide information to the Planning Supervisor for the health and safety file in
accordance with guidance given in HSE Construction Sheet 44.
On completion of the remedial works, the contractor will provide the Planning Supervisor with:
product information on the materials used
NICEIC certificate
CORGI certificate
Copies of equipment manufacturers’ literature, including information on
operation and maintenance.
Project goals
The health and safety plan is provided to help prevent injury and damage to people and property. The
contractor is required to adopt measures for preventing accidents and to monitor the effectiveness of, and
compliance with, the measures through the health and safety plan.
There are several different methods of drying buildings and it follows that
there are different types of equipment that can be used.
This chapter is not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to all
available types of equipment but to highlight two methods –
dehumidification and convection drying. Other methods include heat
transfer, heat exchangers, vacuum drying and ‘open and closed’ systems.
Types of dehumidifier
There are essentially two ways of accomplishing dehumidification of
atmospheric air.
● By chilling air to below its dewpoint causing moisture to condense on
cool surfaces
● By passing air over substances that have an affinity for moisture. These
substances are called desiccants and are capable of extracting moisture
directly from the atmosphere.
Chapter 7
Equipment for drying
Refrigerant dehumidifiers
Using refrigeration to remove moisture from the atmosphere is a common
method for dehumidifying air. Air, at its initial temperature and moisture
content, is chilled by refrigeration when it has been cooled sufficiently to
bring its condition to saturation. Further cooling causes moisture to
condense. In a typical refrigeration unit this condensation occurs directly
onto a finned cooling tube, and is collected and drained away.
In its final dehumidified condition the air is considerably cooler and
contains less moisture but it is still nearly saturated with a relative
humidity of close to 100%. This air is then reheated as it passes through the
dehumidifier which, in turn, reduces the relative humidity.
Drying by using mechanical refrigeration can be quite efficient depending
on the prevailing temperature and relative humidity (RH). The actual
cooling effect or energy extracted can be several times greater than the
energy input required to operate the system; this ratio is called coefficient
of performance.
The best operating range for a refrigeration dehumidifier is 15 to 28 °C and
60 to 98% RH.
Desiccant dehumidifiers
The desiccant dehumidifier uses a drying wheel that is impregnated with
an adsorbent substance such as silica gel. The wheel, which has a
honeycomb structure, is sectioned off into two zones.
● A working zone in which the air that requires drying is drawn through
the honey comb structure and adsorbs the moisture within the air stream
● A second zone, which is usually called the reactivation zone, has
preheated air drawn through it in the opposite direction. The moisture
held by the desiccant is then absorbed by the air and driven off as a
warm wet vapour.
The wheel rotates within the unit at 8 to 10 revolutions per hour, so as the
wheel moves from the reactivation zone it is and warm and dry and ready
to accept more moisture.
The optimum operating range of the desiccant dehumidifier is 0 to 25 °C
and 40 to 90% RH.
Equipment for drying buildings
A desiccant is a substance
characteristically having a high
affinity for absorbing water
without changing its chemical
composition. So high, in fact, that
it can draw moisture from the
surrounding air.
Convection drying
As an alternative to dehumidifiers, convection drying uses three factors of
drying – air movement, raised air temperature and very low moisture
content, all combined with continual air changes.
More technically, convection drying is where the wet (high specific
humidity) air within the flood affected area is replaced with drier air (lower
specific humidity). This can be accomplished simply by heating incoming
air; this reduces its relative humidity and results in a more hygroscopic (or
drier) air which is able then to carry away the moisture generated from
evaporation. The key to successful convection drying is to match the
incoming dry air water capacity with the evaporated moisture caused by
heating, and to remove it quickly before it condenses on surfaces or is
adsorbed by hygroscopic materials.
Manufacturers and users of this method claim some key benefits over
dehumidifiers, but it is beyond the scope of this document to comment on
these, which will in any event be understood by a technically competent
Equipment for drying buildings
A hygroscopic material is one
that is able to abstract moisture
from its surroundings, including
air, by changing its chemical or
physical composition.
The process of drying a flood damaged property is fundamental to its
permanent restoration. This chapter provides a high level view of the
issues connected with the drying process.
Establishing a drying programme
A drying programme needs to be controlled and monitored to ensure an
optimum rate of evaporation (ie the maximum safe rate of drying that
allows wet materials and products to return to their former dimensions and
colours). Whatever type of drying or dehumidification process is used it
will depend on heat to aid evaporation, air changes to carry away
moisture-laden air, and air movement to transfer wet surface or boundary
moisture into collection systems. These inputs will be factored into the
process in varying combinations depending on ambient temperature, room
temperature, amounts of water in the air and absorbed by materials, and air
speed. The collection system can be a simple refrigerant or desiccant
dehumidifier, or convection drying methods.
Chapter 8
Methods of drying buildings
Before drying operations can start,
standing water in buildings must be
allowed to subside or be pumped
(Courtesy of BDMA/HDRS)
There are a number of questions that need answers before establishing a
drying programme.
● Can the building be sealed?
● Is the building’s heating or air conditioning system available to use?
● What is the condition of the property’s electrical system?
● What types of material are being dried?
● How long were materials under water?
● What was the depth of flooding?
● What type of equipment will be used for the drying process?
● What are the outside weather conditions?
● What are the attitudes of, and levels of cooperation between, the insured
and building occupants (eg tenants)?
● How quickly can the insurer, its representative or the property manager
make a decision about drying out the property? For example, are there
issues of insurance cover which need first to be resolved?
● What is the overall condition of the fabric of the property?
● Is the property at risk of re-flooding?
● Is there any trapped interstitial moisture (ie moisture trapped in
insulated floors or walls)?
As a result of considering the answers to these questions there are a
number of ways that a property can be dried. There are some general rules
of thumb that may be used.
The various factors that contribute to moisture in the air and in materials,
and how they interact, are explained in Understanding dampness
Methods for drying buildings
Key factors in the drying process
To a great extent the efficiency and speed of a drying programme will
depend on the effectiveness of any operation to remove floodwater that
remains in the property. If the water has not subsided of its own accord,
other means will need to be found for removing it (eg pumping – the sort
of service provided by local fire services). The more floodwater that can
be removed at this stage, the less that has to removed by the drying
processes. Pumping is, of course, a very fast method of removing large
volumes of standing water from a building.
When as much standing water as possible has been taken away, a
programme of drying can start. The water remaining in the property
should be confined to building components and materials – wood and
concrete in floors, bricks and blocks in walls, for instance. Portable
furniture should be removed; in fact anything that can hold water or delay
the process of drying (eg carpets, and Welsh dressers hard against walls).
The drying process involves a number of criteria, principally:
● speed of air movement
● ambient and room air temperatures
● air moisture content (which is related to air temperature).
Other factors are also important such as the moisture content of materials,
permeability of surfaces and the presence of moisture barriers.
Whatever type of dehumidification is used, it must be combined with a
suitable number of ‘air movers’, and at a suitable temperature. All these
factors are important in the evaporation process; they can be adjusted
during the process to get the maximum drying capacity by a trained and
skilled drying technician. There are different ways of deciding which type
of equipment to use, and how many pieces of equipment to employ. These
decisions and processes are relatively complex, often involving detailed
calculations, and are best left to technical experts.
Methods for drying buildings
Importance of monitoring
Monitoring the drying process provides the technician with valuable
information about the condition and state of an installed drying
programme, and allows for alteration and re-focussing of drying criteria. It
will identify equipment malfunction but, most importantly, provide
information on the effectiveness and speed of drying thereby allowing for
manipulation of the process in terms of equipment. Monitoring records
should be taken and retained for inspection.
During monitoring visits, equipment will need to be adjusted, or increased
or reduced in number, to ensure that effectiveness and speed are
maximised. In most circumstances the ideal drying conditions should be
held at approximately 40 to 50% relative humidity with temperatures at
18 to 23 °C.
High temperatures
Higher temperatures can be used in certain circumstances in order to dry
the property by evaporation but is made considerably more effective with
ventilation. For effective drying, temperature management must normally
be combined with other mechanisms such as control of vapour pressure.
Vulnerable materials
The ideal conditions for drying will depend on the nature of the property
and on the equipment selected, and how they are used and monitored. It is
to be expected that some vulnerable materials will warp or shrink if they
are not dried in equilibrium to the local environment.
Common problems
The most important aspect to look at is the possibility of trapped moisture
within the structure; this can be done when drying has commenced. The
most likely areas for trapped moisture are within insulated floors and
cavities in walls, but the problem can occur in other areas – in fact it can be
any location where evaporation of excess moisture is restricted or
prevented because of the lack of permeability of the materials surrounding
the affected area.
Surface coatings and impermeable membranes can inhibit the release of
moisture and slow the drying process.
Methods for drying buildings
This chapter reviews methods for monitoring the drying process,
ultimately leading to a certificate of drying which is considered an
essential part of the restoration programme. It also presents examples of a
completion report covering repair work to the building for inclusion with
a building user’s manual and a report for a Home Information Pack.
Monitoring equipment
There are many different types of proprietary equipment available
different methods used to measure both air conditions and the material
equilibrium moisture levels. The most widely used are hygrometers,
resistance (or conductance) meters and calcium carbide meters. Other
equipment also includes infrared thermal topography. Obtaining accurate
moisture meter readings is rarely easy.
To measure air conditions a thermal hygrometer should be used. This
instrument measures both temperature and relative humidity (RH). The
importance of undertaking this exercise is to ensure that the best drying
conditions are achieved which in turn allow an optimum evaporation
process to take place and are also critical in insuring that secondary
damage doesn’t occur.
Relative humidity exceeding certain levels could promote mould growth.
The accepted RH for mould growth is 60% RH, but can be as high as 70%.
Chapter 9
Monitoring the drying process
Resistance meters
The dry condition of many materials (eg wood, bricks and concrete) acts as
an insulator. This means that the materials will not conduct electricity in
their dry state – they have high resistance. As moisture is introduced into a
material it increases its conductivity and allows a small electric current to
pass through it. The greater the amount of moisture in the material the
easier it becomes to conduct electricity. Therefore the measurement of
electrical resistance is an indicator of moisture content in the material.
There are many different resistance meters available; but whatever meter
is chosen, the most important factor is that it is used by a person who is
fully trained and understands how to operate it, takes readings that are as
accurate as can be obtained and then interprets them correctly.
Calcium carbide moisture measurement method
The calcium carbide, pressure based measurement method is a test where
the free water in a sample is converted to an acetylene gas by mixing the
sample with calcium carbide. The sample of the material is obtained using
a drill. It is then weighed and inserted into the calcium carbide meter. The
calcium carbide powder is added ensuring that both the test material and
the calcium carbide do not mix before the tester is sealed. The resulting test
provides a quantitative assessment of moisture content as a percentage of
the wet weight of the drilled material.
Further information on different methods for testing both air and material
moisture levels is given in the CIRIA publication, A review of testing for
moisture in materials
Certificate of drying
Presenting a certificate of drying to the property owner is recommended
when drying operations have been completed; it is good practice and
ultimately removes uncertainty about responsibility for the resulting
condition of the property, if there were to be any unresolved issues. Ideally,
only a technically competent person should issue the certificate.
Shown on the opposite page is a form of words for a certificate of drying
based on British Damage Management Association (BDMA) wording.
BDMA members are entitled to use the Association’s recommended
wording provided they adopt its agreed standards and protocols. It is
prudent for suppliers of all kinds to agree specific warrantee and guarantee
wordings with their liability insurers to avoid later misunderstandings.
A certificate should be included in any building user’s manual which
Monitoring the drying process
Monitoring the drying process
The damage management contractor
certifies that drying works required as a result of the event at the property and carried out by the contractor
are now, in the opinion of the contractor, completed in accordance with agreed good practice which states
that a building may be considered dry, following water damage, when:
the internal conditions are at, or better than, normal room conditions
the moisture on and in the building materials will not support active growth of mould and mildew.
Property at which event occurred:
Customer name:
Type of event:
Contractor reference number:
Date of event:
Date contractor completed drying works:
Date contractor completed any additional works:
This certificate of drying works is given in good faith by the contractor on the following basis:
the contractor has attended the property and taken moisture readings in all areas identified by the
contractor as having been affected.
This certificate does not cover pre-event dampness or water damage. It has been assumed by the
contractor that the customer, or representative of the customer, has provided relevant information relating
to the history of the property and in particular any previous problems with dampness or water damage
events, and that these are listed below together with any apparent signs of such matters observed by the
contractor (who has not carried out a full survey of the property).
Report of flooding event
Once the repairs have been completed, a report which identifies the issues
involved, what was carried out, and any further problems likely to arise
should be presented to the owner for their immediate information and for
including in the building user’s manual, if they have one. It should also be
made available to future owners – potentially as part of the Home
Information Pack (HIP) which the Government intends to introduce in
An example of a form for the report is shown opposite.
Monitoring the drying process
A caveat!
It is emphasised that the content
of this guide does not, in its own
right, provide sufficient technical
information to allow a certificate
of drying to be issued for which a
greater degree of technical
knowledge is required.
Monitoring the drying process
for inclusion in the Building User’s Manual and/or the Home Information Pack
Report of repairs to flood damaged property
Also, as part of the remediation process, a report should be prepared
describing the work that has been done to restore the building to its pre-
flooding condition – a suggested format is shown opposite and in the pages
which follow. This report should, again, be included in the HIP for any
future sale process, and in the building user’s manual, if one exists.
Monitoring the drying process
Monitoring the drying process
Following the flooding of the building at
renovation has been carried out to restore the structure and fabric to a sound condition.
Monitoring the drying process
Monitoring the drying process
Monitoring the drying process
Where appropriate the report should also contain details and certification of:
● biological decontamination (eg of sewage overflows)
● insect infestation: diagnosis and/or treatment
● fungal attack (including moulds): diagnosis and/or treatment
● asbestos: in situ and sites from where asbestos removed.
● that moisture content remaining will not have adverse effects on decorative and construction materials,
and on contents generally
● that moisture content remaining will not encourage fungal or insect attack or other deterioration.
The contractor in charge of drying the building cannot be held responsible for any dampness or water
damage that occurs due to reconstruction, reinstatement or redecoration works carried out after it has
completed the drying work.
The contractor’s opinion regarding the acceptable levels of dryness within the flooded property is based on
the assumption that moisture sensitive materials will not be used in any redecoration or refurbishment
process. If these materials have been used, moisture barrier products should have been installed before
applying any coverings (eg under wood laminate floors).
This report relates to drying operations arising from a flooding event and not to any inherent or pre-existing
problem or matter at the property which could result in dampness or water penetration. This includes
(without limitation) concrete floors, party walls, defective damp proof courses, ground floor voids and
columns, cellars and basements, inadequate ventilation, production of excess moisture from normal
household activities or unsatisfactory building methods resulting in condensation.
This chapter provides benchmark repair strategies for common flood
damage scenarios in domestic properties. It covers the basic elements of
construction and, where appropriate, suggests a range of measures that
can be taken to improve the flood resistance of new and existing buildings
that might be vulnerable to repeat flooding.
The construction methods and materials used for domestic buildings vary
considerably and many older properties need the knowledge of a qualified
building surveyor to specify and oversee repair strategies
Consequently the guidance which follows, on pages 64 to 71, will be most
applicable to domestic buildings built after 1930. For buildings that
predate 1930 and those of non-traditional construction methods the advice
of a qualified building surveyor is recommended.
The resilient repair options to improve the
flood resistance of new and existing buildings
follow guidance provided in the Government
publication Preparing for floods
issued in
February 2002.
Chapter 10
Standards for repairing
flooded buildings
Plates show the levels that flooding
has reached at Upton-upon-Severn
External walls – external finish
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Brickwork, face blockwork Pressure cleaning and making Pre-flooding condition of N/A
and stonework good pointing if required materials and pointing
Unpainted render, smooth, Pressure cleaning if required Pre-flooding condition of N/A
roughcast, pebbledash, render
Painted finish – on various Pressure cleaning – repainting ●Aesthetics Microporous coatings
render backgrounds if required ●Entrapped moisture can be considered
beneath impervious coatings
Tile hanging, mathematical Cleaning manually with low ●Substrate N/A
tiles, cedar shingles, pressure hose and brush ●Corrosion of fixings
pre-finished panels, PVC-U ●Entrapped moisture
External walls – structural element
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Solid brickwork or stonework Controlled and monitored Solid walls may suffer from Considering water resistant
construction of various drying pre-flood dampness and coatings externally to
thicknesses never achieve ‘dry condition’ 500 mm above flood line
Cavity brick or blockwork Controlled and monitored ●Type of insulation within Ensuring airbricks sleeved
construction of various drying cavity and cavity fully sealed where
thicknesses and materials ●Silt entry to cavity through air bricks and services
penetrate walls
Timber framed construction Stripping out internal finishes Seeking immediate advice Reconstructing with
and insulation to facilitate from qualified building traditional materials and
controlled and monitored surveyor methods
Chalk–clay, cob or mud walls Allowing to dry with natural Submersion in floodwater Reconstructing with
ventilation and seeking can result in significant loss traditional materials and
immediate advice from in strength or collapse methods, subject to
surveyor controls
System built properties of Seeking immediate advice ●Corrosion of metal ●Specialist moisture
precast reinforced concrete from qualified building components and fixings repelling coatings
or steel frame surveyor ●Deterioration of insulation ●Self-draining insulation
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
External walls – insulation
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Cavity brick, stone or block Seeking immediate advice ●Entrapped moisture Closed cell insulation foam
with urea formaldehyde foam from qualified building ●Deterioration of insulation
or blown fibre insulation surveyor
cavity fill
Cavity brick, stone or block Controlled and monitored Corrosion of wall ties and Stainless steel ties and
with closed cell foam or self- drying insulation fixings fixings
draining mineral wool batts
cavity insulation
Solid masonry with external Controlled and monitored ●Corrosion of insulation Stainless steel fixings
insulation of self-draining drying fixings
mineral fibre batts or rigid ●Entrapped moisture
plastics behind cladding ●Contamination of insulation
Solid masonry with internal Stripping out plasterboard ●Corrosion of fixings ●Stainless steel fixings
insulation behind plasterboard and removing insulation ●Existence of embedded ●Low absorption insulating
linings if of water absorbent type timber grounds in masonry boards or semi-rigid self-
draining mineral wool batts
Timber frame walls with ●Removing internal linings ●Deterioration of the N/A
mineral wool or other insulation to facilitate and external sheathing panels
insulation controlled and monitored reducing racking resistance
drying of timber frame. ●Damage to breather
●Seeking advice from membrane
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
External walls, and internal walls and partitions – internal finishes
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Gypsum plaster directly Removing plaster to 500 mm ●Visible joint between new Water resistant render and
applied to masonry above flood line and old plaster lime based plaster or
background ●Bonding of old plaster hydraulic lime coatings
Lime based plaster on a Controlled and monitored Loss of bonding Water resistant render and
cement–sand rendered drying following removal of lime based plaster or
background over masonry affected decorative finishes hydraulic lime coatings
Plasterboard on adhesive Removing affected ●Visible joint between new Fixing boards horizontally
dabs applied to masonry or plasterboard and old plasterboard where re-flooding likely to
fixed to timber studwork ●Continuity of vapour barrier allow for easier partial
on timber frame where partial replacement. Not suitable
removal for timber frame
Timber strip, sheet of veneer Removing and replacing Salvaging panelling in historic N/A
panelling buildings for refixing after
Ceramic tiles on cement–sand Washing off and regrouting ●Substrate Waterproof adhesives and
rendered background over if required with a water ●Insulation grout
masonry resistant grout ●Services
Paint finish: emulsion, Washing down and removing Entrapped moisture beneath Microporous paints
eggshell or gloss loose and flaking finish. certain impervious finishes
Wallpaper Removing and replacing when Temporary micro porous paint Avoiding vinyl wall coverings
new plaster thoroughly dry finish to allow plaster to dry
before re-papering
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
Internal walls and partitions
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Timber stud partition with Controlled and monitored Condition of timbers or other Preservative impregnated
plasterboard drying following removal of works may make replacement timbers; plasterboard
affected decorative finishes more economic sheets horizontally
Timber stud partition with lath ●Controlled and monitored Condition of timbers or other Preservative impregnated
and plaster, or lime and horse drying of timber. works may make timbers and plasterboard
hair plaster ●Replacing lath and plaster replacement more economic sheets horizontally
with plasterboard
Masonry walls with gypsum ●Removing plaster to ●Visible joint between new Water resistant render and
plaster finish 500 mm above flood line and old plaster lime based plaster or
●Controlled and monitored ●Bonding of old plaster hydraulic lime coatings
Masonry walls with lime based Controlled and monitored Loss of bonding Water resistant render and
plaster finish on cement and drying following removal of lime based plaster or
sand render affected decorative finishes hydraulic lime coatings
Metal framed partitions with Replacing plasterboard or Corrosion of metal frame N/A
plasterboard sheets or faced gypsum panels and fixings
gypsum panels
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Vinyl floor tiles or sheet vinyl Cleaning or replacing ●Substrate N/A
floor covering submerged ●Duration of flooding
●Type of floodwater
Quarry tiles submerged Cleaning or replacing ●Substrate N/A
●Duration of flooding
●Type of floodwater
Solid concrete floor Cleaning and monitoring ●Substrate Consider relocating
submerged drying ●Insulation services
Suspended timber floor with ●Cleaning or replacing ●Substrate ●Replacing with solid floor
chipboard chipboard if damaged. ●Entrapped moisture ●Replacing with marine
●Controlled and monitored ●Type of floodwater plywood
drying of structural ●Access may be required
timbers to clean silt from flooded void
Suspended timber floor with ●Cleaning or replacing ●Substrate Replacing with solid floor
softwood tongued and floorboards if damaged. ●Entrapped moisture
grooved floorboards ●Controlled and monitored ●Type of floodwater
drying of structural ●Access may be required to
timbers clean silt from flooded void
Oak blocks set in bitumen on Cleaning, repairing or ●Substrate Replacing blocks with
solid concrete floor slab replacing ●Insulation screed and floor finish
●Services (eg carpet)
Modern ‘thin section’ Repairing or replacing ●Substrate Replacing with screed if on
hardwood block or wood ●Entrapped moisture concrete floor and
strip floors including parquet ●Type of floodwater covering
Suspended concrete floor of Cleaning and monitoring ●Substrate Considering relocation of
beam and hollow block drying ●Insulation services
construction ●Services
●Access to void beneath
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
Joinery and fittings
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Painted softwood or treated ●Cleaning and repainting or Considering cost of Replacing with PVC-U unit
hardwood external door replacing if warped. Overhauling replacement against salvage
or replacing ironmongery where of modest standard
Double glazed hardwood ●Cleaning and allowing to dry Corrosion of fixings, runners Replacing with PVC-U unit
patio doors or window units out before assessing damage. and ironmongery
●Replacing glazing units only if
seals have failed
Double glazed PVC-U patio Cleaning and replacing glazing Corrosion of fixings, runners Selecting units with stainless
doors or window units units only if seals have failed and ironmongery steel fittings and ironmongery
PVC-U external door Cleaning and replacing glazing Corrosion of fixings, runners Selecting units with stainless
units only if seals have failed and ironmongery steel fittings and ironmongery
Wooden window frames ●Cleaning and allowing to dry Pre-flood condition of Replacing with PVC-U units
submerged in floodwater out before assessing damage. windows
●Replacing double glazed units
only if seals have failed
Cellular type internal doors Replacing N/A N/A
Timber staircase of softwood ●Cleaning and allowing to dry ●Shrinkage of glue blocks Staircases of solid timber
or hardwood submerged in out before assessing damage. may cause squeaking when construction below flood
floodwater ●Repairing with strengthening dried out line
to treads or replacing ●Some stairs may have MDF
treads and risers
Built in wardrobes and Replacing N/A ●Building off floor using
cupboards submerged in plastic legs
floodwater ●PVC-U units
Fitted kitchen units Unless of solid hardwood For high quality, purpose-made ●Building off floor using
submerged in floodwater and high quality, removing hardwood joinery, considering plastic legs
and replacing specialist restoration ●PVC-U units
Skirtings, door linings, Replacing N/A Hardwood or PVC-U
architraves and trims of MDF
or small section softwood
Skirtings, door linings, Controlled and monitored Joinery might require removal N/A
architraves and trims of large drying, removing paint finish, for other trades but could be
section softwood or hardwood priming and redecorating salvaged if economic
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
Electrical services
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Electrical installation ●Immediate advice to be ●Remaining installation may Raising sockets and routing
comprising PVC sheathed sought from qualified not comply with current cables above flood line can
cables, sockets, switches electrician. regulations and be be considered
and fuse boards submerged ●Presumption for condemned
in floodwater replacing all components in ●Moisture may affect other
contact with floodwater components
Fixed electrical appliances Should be replaced N/A N/A
submerged in floodwater
Electrical metering Electricity supply authority to N/A Repositioning equipment
equipment in contact with be contacted immediately above flood line can be
floodwater considered
Gas installation
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Gas service pipes and Electricity supply authority to N/A Repositioning equipment
apparatus in contact with be contacted immediately above flood line can be
floodwater and its advice acted upon considered
Gas fire (wall hung or floor Should be replaced N/A Repositioning boiler above
mounted) submerged in flood line can be considered
Central heating – wet system
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Steel panel radiators in Radiators to be cleaned and N/A N/A
contact with floodwater repainted
Pipe work and apparatus in ●Equipment to be cleaned N/A N/A
contact with floodwater and sanitised
●Any electrical components
to motorised valves or
controls replaced, and
insulation replaced
Boiler (floor or wall mounted) Should be replaced N/A Repositioning boiler above
submerged in floodwater flood line can be considered
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
Sanitary ware
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Vitreous china sanitary ware To be cleaned and sanitised ●May need removal to N/A
submerged in floodwater facilitate other works
●Salvage may be
Bath of pressed steel, cast To be cleaned and sanitised ●Removal to facilitate other N/A
iron or plastic submerged in works
floodwater ●Salvage and storage may
be uneconomic
●Plastic bath may have
chipboard frame
MDF or chipboard base Whole of vanity unit to be N/A N/A
vanity unit replaced
Flood damaged element Benchmark repair strategy Issues to consider Resilient repair option
Underground drains and ●Debris and silt to be Pre-flood condition of N/A
sewers backed up with flushed through to remove. surface water drainage and
floodwater ●Conduct CCTV survey if sewerage systems
blockages encountered
Standards for repairing flooded buildings
The descriptions of the insurance policies covering buildings and contents
given in this chapter are for general guidance only and they do not
necessarily reflect the views of all insurers, lenders and other interested
parties. In specific cases, reference must be made to the individual insurer
or lender concerned.
Buildings insurance (and contents insurance) provides the policyholder
with the peace of mind that, if any unforeseen insured event affected their
property and led to damage, it would be repaired and they would be
reimbursed for their losses. Lenders also require properties to be covered
by building insurance in order to protect their ‘investment’. The basis on
which the lender provides a loan to purchase property is that the borrower
will undertake to maintain the property in a saleable condition so that, in
the event that the borrower is unable to make repayments of the loan, the
lender can repossess the property, sell it, and recover the loan. Some
lenders require continuing proof that the property remains insured, hence
the normal requirement that the insurance is arranged through the lender
or with the lender’s approval.
There is still an area of risk to both owners and lenders when flood damage
occurs since not all damage is covered by buildings insurance; for
example damage caused by:
● poor quality design
● poor quality materials
● poor quality building work
● failure to maintain the property in a reasonable condition.
Chapter 11
Domestic insurance cover
Salts from dampness in the
structure has led to paintwork on
this basement wall losing cohesion.
Flooding will encourage this form of
deterioration: moisture will rise in
the fabric and the effect show as
lifting paint over the affected area,
from the floor up
An example of damage not covered by insurance would be the failure of a
damp proof course or of tanking in a basement. These are often expensive
to repair and owners may not always understand that they are not covered
by buildings insurance. However, they may be covered by insurance-
backed schemes on new properties (eg National House-Building Council
warranties). In older properties these are maintenance issues that are not
covered by insurance policies.
The insurance contract
An insurance policy is primarily a contract between two parties, namely:
● the insurance company – the insurer
● the policyholder and, where applicable, the lender – the insured.
An insurance policy protects the policyholder against loss or damage
caused by one or more of the insured events stated in the policy. In its most
simple terms, this means that the insurer will be placing the insured in the
same position they were in before the insured event.
This can be done in one of three ways. The insurer has the option to:
● pay the policyholder for the cost of repairing the damage
● appoint someone to undertake the repairs and pay them
● arrange a cash settlement with the policyholder if it is not possible to
pay for the damage to be repaired economically.
While repair and redecoration may give rise to improvements, it is not the
intention of the insurer to pay for ‘betterment’ or for maintenance of the
fabric of the building above and beyond that necessary to carry out
reasonable repairs and redecoration following a flood. The extent of cover
will depend on individual policy wordings.
Most insurers do not provide cover for fences, hedges, lawns, shrubs or
flowers against damage by flooding, or the subsequent cleaning, under
either the buildings or contents policies. The policyholder should refer to
their policy document for the insurer’s precise wording.
The policy excess
Almost all insurance policies apply a policy excess, which is the first
amount of each claim the insured has to pay. Excess amounts will vary
between insurers and types of risk. In the event of multiple occurrences of
flooding within the same flood event, the insurers may choose to apply
only one excess.
Domestic insurance cover
Betterment is deemed to apply
under buildings insurance where
the property has not been
maintained in a reasonable
condition and subsequent
improvement is made to the
building’s condition as a result of
a claim being met for an insured
event. The insurer will normally
then adjust the amount of the
claim paid to the policyholder that
reflects the degree of
Policy conditions and exclusions
As already stated, the policy is a contract between two parties – the insured
and the insurer, and is usually renewable on an annual basis. Both parties
are bound by the precise wording of the contract between them. Each is
entitled to rely on the wording of the contract. The insurer should make
sure that the policy document and any attachments are clearly worded.
In addition, there are specific conditions which relate to claims made
under an insurance contract. A failure by the insured to comply with these
conditions may entitle the insurers to reject a claim. The effect that a
breach of any of the conditions by the insured might have on a claim is
explained in the following sections.
In a domestic situation, an insurer will seldom decline to deal with a claim
due to a breach of a policy condition if that breach has been innocent in
nature, is not material to the loss and does not prejudice the insurer’s
position. They may, however, require a detailed explanation before a
decision is reached and often these investigations take time. The
Association of British Insurers provides guidance on this matter.
Prompt notification
When faced with their property having been flooded, the insured person
should inform their insurer as as soon as is practicable. Most insurers
accept telephone notification of claims; in fact claim forms are rarely
required these days, the details of claims being given over the telephone.
Insurers have designed their systems so that they can react to major
catastrophes with speed and remove as much stress as possible for their
When notifying the insurer, the policyholder should give as much
information as possible. This includes the number of occupants in the
household, if there are any young children or elderly people, and if any
occupant has disabilities or infirmities that may require specialist services
or make normal alternative accommodation inappropriate.
Domestic insurance cover
Association of British
The insurance contract is a contract of ‘utmost good faith’ between the
parties. This means that neither party is entitled to mislead the other when
entering into the contract. There is an obligation on the insured to disclose
any ‘material facts’ which would influence the insurer’s judgement in
deciding whether to accept the particular property in question as a suitable
risk, and, if so, on what terms. This may include whether the property has a
history of flooding.
The effect of withholding a material fact is quite simply that the insurer is
not aware of all the details relating to the risk in order to assess it properly.
If these facts come to light, the insurer will not only not deal with the
current claim but the policy may be rendered void.
Sum insured
The sum insured, which is the responsibility of the insured, must reflect the
cost of rebuilding the property. The sum insured is not based on nor does it
reflect the property’s market value – it does not include, for example, the
value of the land on which the property is sited. If the insured sum does not
reflect the cost of rebuilding the whole property, the insurer may have
grounds for adjusting their liability under the policy.
Most policies provide cover to repair or rebuild a property on the basis that
it is adequately insured at all times: this is known as cover on a
‘reinstatement’ basis.
The insurer may wish to consider the extent of its liability under the terms
of its policy when, for example, the sum insured is only 50% of the amount
required to reinstate the property then liability may only be accepted for
50% of the claim.
Domestic insurance cover
Maintenance and repair
A property owner (the insured) who has been made aware that a defect
needs repairing, or that a particular course of action needs to be followed
to minimise future risks, has a responsibility to repair the defect and to
make less likely the occurrence of further damage. Insurers will expect
this to be done even if they neither required the relevant issue to be
notified to them nor made it a condition of insurance. If the insured has
failed to maintain the property, this could affect the settlement of the
claim. Failure to mitigate damage or its consequences may permit the
insurer to reduce the amount they pay on the claim.
Where the policyholder has not maintained the part of a building which is
the subject of the claim in reasonable condition, the insurer may require a
contribution from the policyholder that reflects any improvement to, or
betterment of, the property.
Flood resilient repairs*
Flood resilient repairs are repairs which lessen the impact of damage by
further flooding by altering or enhancing the specification of repairs
following the original flooding event. In many, but not all, cases,
additional costs will be involved.
The Association of British Insurers have made it clear that the additional
cost of providing flood resilient repairs does not fall on insurers, who have
an obligation under the policy to deal only with the cost of standard repairs
(subject to the terms and conditions of the individual policy wordings)

Domestic insurance cover
* ABI have issued a technical document, Assessment of costs and effectiveness on future
claims of installing flood damage resistant measures
† There are however some good options for meeting the balance of cost. The Council of
Mortgage Lenders has confirmed that many of their leading members would be prepared to
consider extending loans to cover the additional cost of these measures, providing the
homeowner has sufficient equity. Furthermore the Government has confirmed that it will
look into the feasibility of offering financial support for pilot studies in appropriate
Although this guide is primarily concerned with damage caused by
flooding of residential properties insured under domestic insurance
policies, there are some applications for small businesses or SMEs (small
and medium-sized enterprises) operating in residential-type premises;
examples might be corner shops and small electrical retailers in mid-
terrace properties.
For small businesses, many of the issues in terms of drying out and
repairing their properties will remain the same since the fabric of the
buildings is usually identical to that found in domestic properties. There
are however three key issues which differentiate the domestic from the
commercial situation – the position under a lease, the scope of insurance
cover, and the actual claims process.
Chapter 12
Small businesses
Small businesses will not just lose
equipment, furniture and furnishings
from flooding; they may find that
they cannot operate or trade, lose
vital records, and suffer loss of
profits – all insurable risks
(Courtesy of BDMA/Document SOS)
Freehold, leasehold and tenancy issues
Consideration needs be given to the legal position in terms of who has
responsibility for damage, even if accidental. This will depend on the
wording of the freehold, leasehold or tenancy arrangement in place.
Hopefully policyholders will already have an understanding of their
responsibilities, but it can be frustrating if works need to be delayed until
all parties in the claim situation have sight of the legal documents (eg
tenancy agreements). Matters can become even more complicated where
there are improvements to the building which have been carried out by the
tenant or leaseholder but which have not yet reverted to the landlord.
In these circumstances it is usual for an insurer to appoint a loss adjuster
who will request sight of leasehold or tenancy documents to clarify
responsibility for repairs.
Where repairs to the property more correctly fall under the landlord’s
insurance arrangements rather the tenant’s, the tenant must advise the
landlord of the situation as quickly as possible to ensure that the the
insurance company is made aware of a potential claim within the time limit
stipulated by the policy terms. Failure to do so, or action taken by the
tenant without the insurer’s approval, may prejudice the landlord’s claim.
Small businesses
Scope of commercial insurance policies
Most commercial insurance policies will have been arranged through an
insurance broker, and this should be the first port of call by an affected
policyholder following a flood damage event unless the insurer stipulates
otherwise. The broker will ensure that the insurance company is notified in
accordance with the claims notification requirements of the policy, and, in
addition, will be able to advise the business owner of the extent of cover
available. Some brokers also have ‘delegated authority’ which is a degree
of authority from the insurance company to make decisions on its behalf.
Commercial and domestic policies are by their nature very different and
may give different levels of cover, even if the types of affected premises
are similar. A detailed explanation of commercial insurances is beyond the
scope of this guide but as an overview:
● commercial insurance policies do not normally operate the same type of
new-for-old cover that homeowners enjoy
● commercial insurance policies often contain conditions which are
specific to the nature of the business being carried out. Some of these
conditions, known as warrantees, may render the policy void if a
condition has not been complied with
● some policies operate on a pro-rata basis which reflects the adequacy of
the sum insured; where the value of a property is understated, only a
proportion of the claim may be paid corresponding to the degree of
● policy excesses, or ‘deductables’, may be higher than those for
domestic policies
● there may also be insurance cover for loss of profit due to interruption
of the business, sometimes known as ‘consequential loss cover’. Also
the landlord may be covered for loss of rent while a leased or tenanted
building is uninhabitable.
Small businesses
Claims process
In most commercial situations of significant value and complexity, where
there is disruption to the business or where the value of the property repairs
exceed a couple of thousand pounds, the insurer will appoint a Chartered
Loss Adjuster to investigate the claim. The loss adjuster will report to the
insurer on matters of policy liability, including the responsibilities of the
parties under any tenancy or leasehold arrangement, and generally guide
the claim to a conclusion.
Loss adjusters are independent and impartial experts whose fees are paid
for by the insurer. Their fees are not increased should the claims settlement
figure be reduced for any reason; in other words, they have no personal
incentive to reduce the value of a claim. Policyholders also have the option
to appoint a firm of public loss assessors who will assist them in preparing
the claim. The loss assessors, who are paid by the policyholder, also
examine the insurance policy and the insurer’s response to the loss, and
formulate and present all aspects of the claim to the insurer’s loss adjuster.
They will also negotiate on the policyholder’s behalf.
In addition a claim for flooding of a small business will also normally need
to consider stock, trade contents, and tenants fixtures and fittings. This will
be insured separately to building and contents policies – very possibly
under an entirely different policy through different insurers. These other
insurers may wish to appoint loss adjusters with particular expertise. In
these situations, communication between the parties is essential to ensure a
coordinated ‘one team’ approach as far as is practicably possible. Where
appropriate to do so, different insurers should consider the appointment of
the same firm of loss adjusters to deal with all aspects of a claim at the
same premises.
Where building repairs are concerned, the affected business will be
encouraged to fund the repairs and then recover payment from the insurer
net of VAT if the business is registered. At that time, any deductions for
underinsurance or the policy excess may be applied. This process differs
from the domestic situation where the insurer or loss adjuster may directly
appoint a repairer to carry out repairs and deal with the repair costs directly.
If the activities of the business have been affected, the insurance policy
may also provide additional cover for the cost of accelerating the schedule
of repair work (eg by working overtime) to offset insured consequential
losses or loss of rent where it is cost effective to do so.
As in domestic repair situations, health and safety issues remain important,
and compliance with CDM Regulations is obligatory.
Chartered Institute of Loss
Institute of Public Loss
Small businesses
The purpose of this chapter of the guide is to provide advice for:
● identifying if there is a risk of flood to a property
● establishing the level of flood risk to a property
● managing the level of flood risk to a property.
Floodwater will be contaminated in one form or another, ranging from
sediments, soil, organisms, dissolved substances, and, more worryingly,
chemical wastes and effluents etc which can be particularly destructive.
The nature of the contaminants will affect the speed and cost of cleaning
and of restoring premises to their original condition.
Floodwater will not just enter a building through door openings. More
often than not water will penetrate – and pass through or round – the
building fabric (eg walls, floors and other major structural elements),
cavities, air bricks, horizontal pipes, waste water fittings, sewage pipes,
drains, floor gullies etc.
Chapter 13
Identifying and managing the
flooding risk at a property
Inside the pottery at Boscastle,
following the August 2004 floods
(Courtesy of BDMA/Richfords)
Susceptibility of contents and equipment
Once floodwater enters a property the scale of the loss will increase
Domestic contents are very susceptible to flood damage and in many
instances the contents of the ground floor are totally destroyed. The
susceptibility of the contents in commercial premises will vary greatly, but
even the most robust equipment is likely to suffer some form of damage
ranging from partial corrosion (and other forms of material deterioration)
to total destruction.
In many instances the property does not even have to be permanently
damaged for the insurer to incur costs, as most losses will involve an
element of cleaning and decontamination. It is also not uncommon for
otherwise undamaged property to be destroyed and replaced purely
because the costs to decontaminate and repair are uneconomic or because
of a requirement to do so under health and safety regulations.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Susceptibility of buildings and fittings
Most modern domestic and commercial buildings in the UK were not built
to withstand flooding (although some improvements in this particular area
are being introduced).
Depending on severity, flooding can render a property unusable and bring
normal household or business activities to a halt. Even when it has
subsided, floodwater is likely to cause contamination to buildings and
fittings, and it may be visible and odorous. More specifically,
contamination can affect a building in the following ways.
● Concrete can absorb huge quantities of water and, until completely dry,
cause ongoing problems such as chemical reactions and fungal growths
affecting both the structure and contents
● Cavity walls are often lined with insulating materials which may
deteriorate if they absorb floodwater
● Floors of absorbent chipboard laid over foam insulation and a sheet of
polythene act like a reservoir, holding water in and above the materials
● The chemical action of salts in some floodwaters can affect brickwork,
particularly in older buildings, compromising the damp proof course
and setting up long term damp problems
● Organic contamination (eg silt) is associated with most floodwaters and
brings with it issues of hygiene, possibly indicated by an offensive
odour. Moreover, fine silt particles contained in floodwater have a
tendency to settle in layers in floor voids, and in cavity walls where it
renders damp proof membranes ineffective
● Electrical installations that have been subjected to water penetration or
even moisture are susceptible to failure. Provided equipment and
circuits have not been damaged by floodwater, they may be dried out –
absolutely thoroughly – and tested before switching power back on
● Gas and oil meters and boilers may be affected by floodwater, in which
case they may require purging and appropriate drain points being fitted.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Environment Agency:
tel 0845 933 3111
Flood Protection Association:
Risk surveys
Insurers’ risk advisers are not qualified hydrologists or structural
engineers. Although insurers do have some limited in-house risk
management experience, they are not able to offer formal risk management
services to policyholders beyond standard survey recommendations.
Insurers therefore recommend that a policyholder obtains professional
advice, and this can only be given by those possessing appropriate and
recognised professional qualifications such as a qualified hydrologist or
specialist building surveyor recognised by the Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors.
A characteristic of any large volume of water is that it will always find the
weakest point into any structure, and that by reducing the risk in one
location will potentially increase it in another. Any mitigation or
alleviation measures should therefore be considered in the context of
managing the risk of the whole property and their potential impact on the
wider environment and not just the originally expected point of entry. This
is especially true for those buildings in multiple occupation which are
spread over large sites or areas; in these circumstances insurers
recommend that the property owners would benefit from a more detailed
‘catchment assessment’ or ‘hydrological survey’.
These services are commercially available but insurers tend not to
specifically recommend any preferred suppliers and normally suggest that
the policyholder contact either their local Environment Agency office or
local authority for guidance.
Some of the key elements are considered below.
Identifying the locations at risk
The nature and pattern of flooding has altered in recent years. Man-made
physical changes to the landscape and environment, and changes to
weather patterns, has resulted in unprecedented events both on and beyond
existing floodplains.
While the causes of flooding events may differ between locations, a level
of risk from flooding may exist in a significant proportion of properties in
the UK.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Royal Institution of Chartered
Identifying the sources of potential flooding
The starting point of any risk management process is to identify the
sources of risk.
Flooding can occur from any open or enclosed watercourse, by natural or
man-made causes, but more commonly in combination.
The proximity and relationship between buildings and the following
sources should be understood:
● open sea – estuaries, harbours, docks, quays etc
● fluvial – rivers, streams, brooks, lakes, reservoirs, dams, open drains
and ditches etc
● pluvial – sewers, storm drains, culverts etc.
Identifying the responsible parties
The above sources could be owned, managed or maintained by a number
of different parties:
● local authorities
● the Environment Agency
● water authorities
● private land owners.
To ensure that any potential problems (eg damage, blockages and failure)
can be dealt with quickly, contact details for the each of the responsible
parties should be obtained and kept at hand by the property owner.
Establishing the level of risk
Many authorities and agencies have carried out, or are carrying out, risk
assessments and evaluations for the watercourses under their control.
These organisations should be able to provide assessments on the potential
frequency and severity of flooding along with details of any maintenance
and improvements programmes they have in place.
Factors that could reduce the level of risk
● Watercourses and drainage systems in the area are unobstructed and
well maintained
● Buildings as a whole are situated in a position of raised ground and
would not be totally or partially cut off in the event of flooding in the
surrounding area
● The properties are serviced by pumped drainage and sewerage systems.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Factors that could increase the level of risk
● Buildings are not protected by adequately constructed and maintained
● Watercourses and drainage systems in the area are obstructed or poorly
● Any part of the premises is situated in a low lying area of ground
● natural or man-made drainage is inadequate for its size, type and use
● Surface water is unable to percolate through ground where it has been
covered with large areas of impervious materials (eg car parks and large
paved areas)
● Surface water run-off risk for premises is located at the foot of raised
areas of ground or high land (eg embankments, hills and mountains)
● Premises are situated in a position of raised ground and total or partial
access would be prevented in the event of flooding in the surrounding
Managing the risk
Flooding regardless of depth or frequency is very disruptive both
economically and in terms of the health and well-being of the property
owners, tenants and employees. Insurance is not able to reduce all the
effects and in cases of the most onerous risks is not available.
Once floodwater comes in contact with the fabric of a building it is only
possible to slow its ingress. The water will find its way into the building
through the weakest point so it is therefore not only necessary to prevent
water from entering the premises via doors and windows, but also via
drains and sewage outlets, cavities and, in instances of prolonged
inundation, through the external brickwork and internal floors.
Floodwater is likely to be contaminated and may result in some property
that would normally be salvageable having to be destroyed. While it is not
always possible to prevent flooding its effects may be reduced or managed.
The following are examples of the actions that may be appropriate.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Construction Industry
Research and Information
Permanent changes and actions
● Relocate, reposition and raise furniture, equipment and valuables to
areas well above the expected water levels (eg from basement or ground
floor to first floor, or raise up on racking etc)
● Replace susceptible wall linings, furniture, fixtures and fittings with
waterproof alternatives (eg stone or plastic floorings, tiled or water
resistant wall coverings, water retardant plasters and linings)
● Reposition electrical points and other essential utilities to heights well
above the expected water levels or at maximum heights for comfortable
● Ensure that power to security systems and essential equipment can be
maintained during flooding
● Relocate or reposition safes and strongboxes above expected water
● Consider installing one-way or pumped valves to waste outflows
● Store and maintain flood defending equipment and supplies above the
expected water level or in a location away from the expected flooding
● Consider using temporary flood protection to slow the ingress at weak
points in and around the building (eg sandbags and flood boards). Drain
stoppers can be used to prevent drainage systems silting up,
remembering that they should be removed after the flood has subsided.
For existing properties that are at a high risk of flooding, structural
solutions may be the only option; in these cases the involvement of the
local planning authority is likely to be required as well as the services of a
specialist engineer.
Details on structural solutions, for both new and existing buildings, can be
found in:
● in Preparing for floods
● on the CIRIA website.
The more permanent changes that are made, the easier it will be to deal
with a flooding event, especially if there is little to no warning.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Environment Agency:
Flood event procedures
It is recommended that homes and businesses at risk should introduce a
formal plan that outlines the personal roles, responsibilities and actions to
be carried out in a flooding event.
The plan should be kept in a water-resistant container in an easily
accessible location that is known by all occupants and keyholders and
should contain:
● important contact details (eg for Environment Agency local office, local
authority, insurance adviser or company, and property owners)
● a list and location of items that should be moved above floodwaters
● a list and location of items that can’t be moved but should be enclosed in
watertight bags or containers
● a list and location of items that should have their power sources isolated
or disconnected
● location of gas and electric isolation cut off points and switches
● location of flood defending equipment and supplies
● a list of weak points for items such as toilets, and washing machine and
dishwasher waste pipes in and around the building that would need to be
protected by sandbags or other suitable alleviation products
● a list and location of vehicles, boats and other external equipment that
can be moved from flood risk areas or secured
● evacuation instructions.
Flood defending equipment and supplies
It is recommended that the following equipment is made readily available
to assist in dealing with a flooding event:
● sandbags and flood boards or other alleviation products
● watertight plastic bags (varying sizes)
● shovels
● torches and spare batteries
● waterproof clothing and footware
● spare warm clothing
● protective clothing including gloves and boots (for potential
contaminated floodwater situations)
● battery operated radios to monitor flood warning announcements
● mobile phones
● first aid kits
● vacuum flasks and energy foods.
Actions to take before and during a flooding event
Once a flood warning is received:
● flood event procedures should be put into operation
● flood warnings and announcements on the radio should be monitored.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
Actions to be taken after a flooding event
Once the all clear is given, advice should be sought on how best to handle
the clean-up operation. This should be obtained from:
● the insurance adviser or company
● the local authority.
Using flood protection products – a guide for
Purchasing flood protection products should be regarded as one element of
a comprehensive flood preparation plan for a particular property or group
of properties at risk of flooding.
BSI Product Services is committed to helping purchasers of flood
protection products to identify suppliers and products that meet agreed
standards – products that have been independently tested and that conform
to specification. BSI Product Services awards the Kitemark to products
which meet BSI specifications. The Kitemark may be used under licence
by manufacturers and their agents.
Flood protection products offer a more effective means of limiting the
passage of floodwater than simply using sandbags. They generally allow
time for possessions to be moved above the flood level and for other
damage limitation plans to be put into action.
In a flood it should not be assumed that there would be no water seepage
through the building fabric (ie through the brickwork, cavities, floors and
drainage systems etc). Flood protection products are intended to limit the
passage of water through building openings over which they are installed
(eg doors and windows).
Any manufacturer can claim conformity of their products to a standard but
it is their responsibility to ensure any claim is not misleading. Using the
specification number (eg PAS 1188-1) on the product, on an attached label
or on its packaging is solely a declaration of conformity by the
Purchasers of flood protection products should not confuse such a claim
with independent testing and certification of product conformity to the
required standard by BSI Product Services. Only the Kitemark carries the
assurance that BSI Product Services has certified the product as meeting
the required standard.
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
BSI Publicly Available
Specifications for flood
protection products
The British Standards Institution,
in association with the
Environment Agency, the
Association of British Insurers,
the Flood Protection Association
and HR Wallingford, have
prepared three specifications
covering flood protection
PAS 1188-1 Flood protection
products. Specification. Building
This PAS specifies the
designation, testing, factory
production control, installation
information and marking for
different types of flood protection
products intended for using
across building apertures and
property entrances.
PAS 1188-2 Flood protection
products. Specification.
Temporary and demountable
This specifies the designation,
testing, factory production
control, installation information
and marking for different types of
flood protection products
intended for temporary use
around structures.
PAS 1188-3 Flood protection
products. Specification. Building
skirt systems
This is the only specification
currently covering products
capable of protecting all sides of
an individual property or group of
properties. It is claimed that it
allows only one third of water
ingress compared to other BSI
flood protection recommendations.
Further details of these PASs are
given in the next chapter.
The BSI Kitemark scheme
The Kitemark may be found on a wide range of products which provide
protection in the event of flooding.
The Kitemark on flood protection products demonstrates the
manufacturer’s commitment to quality, giving confidence to potential
customers to buy their product. Manufacturers are required to have a
comprehensive production control system to ensure products are
manufactured consistently to the required standard. Furthermore, BSI
Product Services, in association with HR Wallingford, carries out type
testing of the product to establish that, for example, leakage is within
acceptable limits. Samples of the product are installed in accordance with
the manufacturer’s recommended installation procedures. Periodic
inspection visits to manufacturing premises ensure production quality is
being maintained on an on-going basis.
BSI Kitemark scheme:
Identifying and managing the flooding risk at a property
The flooding events experienced in the UK over recent years have
highlighted the following.
● Formal government-managed flood defences do not always prevent
flooding from occurring
● Some locations do not, and will not, benefit from formal defences where
flooding occurs.
As a result individual property owners need to become more aware of the
risks to their property and to take a greater responsibility in protecting it
from either occasional flooding or total inundation.
The research and development of flood protection products is receiving a
high level of interest, especially in those locations that have previously
experienced flooding. This has resulted in a number of manufacturers
seeing a move into the flood protection market as a lucrative opportunity.
Many product ideas never make it beyond the R&D phase due to the costs
involved in getting them to full production. Those that do become
commercially available are marketed and advertised as being effective in
helping occupiers mitigate the effects of flooding. The true effectiveness
of any given product will depend, though, on the characteristics of each
property, and the expected causes and level of flooding. In some instances
the product may be totally unsuitable.
Chapter 14
Flood protection and flood
mitigation products
Existing standards
In an effort to enable consumers to make more informed purchases the
British Standards Institution, in association with the Association of British
Insurers, the Environment Agency, the Flood Protection Association and
HR Wallingford have produced Publicly Available Specifications (PASs)
covering a range of Kitemarked specifications for flood protection
products. The three PASs currently available are:
PAS 1188-1 Flood protection products. Specification. Building
These products are intended for installation across building apertures (eg
doors, windows, air bricks and air vents) and will include:
● door boards
● air-brick covers.
Positive features of these products
● They are generally suitable for low level flooding (eg less than 50 cm)
of short duration
● They can slow inundation to allow people to evacuate premises and to
move possessions away from or above the highest expected flood level
● They are lighter and environmentally friendly alternatives to using
sand bags
● They are relatively easy to install (one or two people can handle them)
● They are relatively inexpensive.
Negative features of these products
● Every building aperture must be protected individually
● They rely upon property owners and occupiers receiving flood warnings
in advance, and installing protection quickly and correctly
● They are unsuitable for flooding at high levels and for long durations
● If used in isolation, floodwater will still enter properties through
building fabric (eg brickwork, cavities, floors and drainage systems)
● They will delay and not prevent damage to buildings and their contents
● If not removed after flooding they have the potential to cause damage to
the fabric and structure of buildings.
Flood protection and flood mitigation products
PAS 1188-2 Flood protection products. Temporary and demountable
These relate to products intended to be demountable or for temporary
installation around structures. They include:
● pallet barriers
● board barriers
● skirt barriers
● water filled barriers.
Positive features of these products
● Potentially they can protect entire properties and sites
● They are generally suitable for low-to-medium-level flooding (eg less
than 1 m) of both short and long duration
● They are able to slow inundation to allow people to evacuate premises
and to move possessions away from or above the highest expected
flood level
● They are more environmentally friendly, and generally more effective
and quicker to install, than sand bags
● They are more effective if supported by ‘sump-and-pump’ within
protected areas. (Silting up of a sump under flood conditions needs to be
Negative features of these products
● They rely upon property owners and occupiers receiving flood
warnings in advance and installing protection quickly and correctly
● They are not always suitable for flooding at high levels (eg greater
than 1 m)
● They require a minimum of two people to install and, in some cases,
require additional equipment and machinery
● In floods of long duration, water will still enter the protected area
through the barrier joints, up through the ground and over the top
● They can be expensive to buy and install so they are normally purchased
only where high value property is at risk or where more than one
property owner can contribute
● Potentially they can lead to damage being caused to surrounding third
party properties where floodwater is diverted by the barriers.
Flood protection and flood mitigation products
PAS 1188-3 Flood protection products. Building skirt systems
This BSI specification, for building skirt systems, is the only one currently
covering products capable of protecting all sides of an individual property
or group of properties. Products meeting the requirements of this
specification claim to be significantly more effective since they allow only
a third of the water ingress than products meeting other BSI flood
protection specifications.
Other types of flood protection products
There are many commercially available products and installations that do
not meet a relevant British Standard or PAS, but which can assist in
reducing the impact of flooding. Some examples of these products are:
● water resistant coatings for external walls
● flexible tanking membrane skirt systems
● wire wall sand basket systems
● tailored drainage management
● water resistant kitchen units
● electrical appliance raisers
● large water resistant bags for items which cannot be raised or moved.
Using any of the above products in isolation will not eliminate the affects
of flooding, but, if used with other products as part of a wider damage
limitation and risk management plan, they can reduce the cost of flood
related claims.
The Flood Protection Association represents companies specialising in
flood protection products and services.
Flood protection and flood mitigation products
Flood Protection Association:
Underwriting and risk
It is essential that before any underwriting allowances are made that the
true causes and extent of flood risk at any given premises are established
and understood.
It is recommended that a survey is carried out in every instance where
flood protection products are being considered or used, and where
appropriate a detailed flood risk assessment should be undertaken by the
EA or similar recognised authority.
The promotion of products and services that meet BSI requirements
should be encouraged. Conforming to British Standards will allow the
general public to make more informed decisions when considering the
selection of flood protection products. It should be remembered, though,
that the impact and extent of damage caused by flooding will vary
considerably from one property to another, even if they are within the
same location; and it follows that the effectiveness of any given product
will vary greatly. It is therefore unlikely that an insurer would wish to
recommend using any single product or service in isolation.
Insurers would normally expect product and service recommendations for
individual risks to be obtained as part of detailed flood risk assessments
from experts having the appropriate professional qualifications; these
experts might be qualified hydrologists, or specialist engineers or
surveyors, and their contact details should be available from local offices
of the EA.
Any request from a manufacturer or installer seeking the endorsement of a
product from an insurer should normally direct their initial enquiries to
insurance underwriters rather than claims staff.
Flood protection and flood mitigation products
Underwriter usually refers to
that part of an insurance
organisation that looks after all or
part of risks undertaken by
insurers; some insurers also act
as underwriters for other parties
(eg banks and building societies)
providing insurance products.
[1] Proverbs D and Soetanto R. Flood damaged property. Publication X178. London,
Construction Industry Research and Information Association, 2004
[2] Trotman P, Sanders C and Harrison H. Understanding dampness. BRE Report
BR 466. Garston, BRE Press, 2004
[3] Dill M J. A review of testing for moisture in materials. Publication C538. London,
Construction Industry Research and Information Association, 2000
[4] English Heritage. Flooding and historic buildings. Technical Advice Note (Product
Code 50776). Swindon, EH, 2004
[5] Floods and historic buildings. Proceedings of the Joint Conference of English
Heritage and Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council, 27 March 2001
[6] Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Preparing for
floods. London, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2002.
[7] Association of British Insurers. Assessment of the cost and effect on future
claims of installing flood damage resistant measures. London, ABI, 2003
[8] British Standards Institution. Flood protection products. Specification. Building
apertures. Publicly Available Specification PAS 1188-1:2003. London, BSI, 2003
[9] British Standards Institution. Flood protection products. Specification. Temporary
and demountable products. Publicly Available Specification PAS 1188-2:2003. London,
BSI, 2003
[10] British Standards Institution. Flood protection products. Specification. Building
skirt systems. Publicly Available Specification PAS 1188-3:2003. London, BSI, 2003
and useful websites and
other sources of information
Websites and other sources of information
Association of British Insurers
British Disaster Management Association
Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters
Construction Industry Research and Information Association
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Agency
Environment Agency’s Flood Warning Service
tel 0845 933 3111
Environment Agency’s Floodline
tel 0845 988 1188
English Heritage
Flood Protection Association
Health and Safety Executive
HSE Infoline
0845 345 0055
Institute of Public Loss Assessors
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
References and useful websites
About this book
Flooding is an issue that is likely to affect both home
occupiers - owners and tenants - and the insurance industry
for the foreseeable future. It causes distress to property
owners and occupants, and the technical difficulties
associated with the repair process can test experts to the limit.
The background to this guide arises from the recognition that
organisations in the insurance and construction industries can
jointly offer solutions which bring together the main parties,
and, in doing so, restore insured property to its condition
before the flooding event.
Since flooding invariably involves more than one property,
this joint industry approach allows all parties for all affected
properties to work together to produce mutually satisfactory
About the Flood Repairs Forum
The Flood Repairs Forum is an informal grouping of floods
experts from organisations in insurance, investigation, loss
adjusting and repair. Individual members of the Forum have
shared their knowledge and experience to raise awareness of
the key issues involved with flooding and, out of this, to
suggest best practice.
BRE Press
Garston, Watford, WD25 9XX
EP 69
ISBN 1 86081 903 6
9 781860 819032
I SBN 1 - 8 6 0 8 1 - 9 0 3 - 6

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