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BRE Flood Resilient Repair Home

We have recently created a demonstration home as part of the BRE Innovation Park at Watford which has been adapted to be resistant to flooding from water up to 600mm (2 feet) deep, and also to be resilient to the effects of being flooded beyond that – in other words, it is designed to dry out quickly and be suitable to move back into in a very short time after a flood incident.

At present, following a flood, builders repairing a flood-damamged home would strip off soggy plasterboard, take out the flooring and rip out a saturated chipboard kitchen. But, once the house has dried out, then they’d very likely put plasterboard back in, install a new chipboard kitchen, and use non-water resistant flooring and insulation materials, which, if the home were to flood again in the future, will suffer the same fate.

The BRE Flood Resilient Repair Home aims to show alternative replacement products in the repairs that will not be affected by subsequent flooding; products that are resilient. It also shows how simple measures such as placing electrical outlets higher up walls and using doors and windows with flood resisting seals can help minimise future damage. And, if water does get in, an automatic 'sump pump' connected to drains in the floor quickly gets water out of the house again.

Although the house is designed to be water resisting and resilient, it still looks and feels 'homely'. See some of the measures installed from this slideshow:

[view at full size on YouTube]

Resistant and resilient measures used in the house include:

  • Water resistant insulation in the walls and under the floor (such as spray-applied PUR foam or injected foamed cavity insulation)
  • Kitchen units and doors made from resin-bonded board, and fitted with all-ceramic worktops
  • Waterproof magnesium oxide wall boards instead of plasterboard, or, if plasterboard is used, this fitted horizontally so that in future only the lower boards need replacement if damaged
  • ceramic tlled floor and loose rugs in place of fitted carpets.

As well as these measures, other things have been done to keep vulnerable items out of the way of any future flood water:

  • Sockets and switches placed higher up the wall, and the wiring to them all coming from the ceiling
  • Appliances in the kitchen (fridge, oven, washing machine etc) mounted at worktop height
  • The lower kitchen cupboards fitted with slide-out baskets so that they can be taken out and placed on the worktop if flooding is imminent

To prevent flooding entering the property by seepage from under the floor (which happens as groundwater rises, even if floodwater doesn’t reach the door)

  • Membranes installed under the floor and in the walls* to divert water towards…
  • Drain channels beneath the floor around the perimeter of the room, directing water into…
  • A sump in the corner of the home fitted with automatic pumps to remove the water, pumping it outside, before it can reach up to the floor.
  • (*the membrane in the wall means that if the adjoining property floods, water that seeps through the wall from next door is channeled away to prevent damage on your side. This allows repairs to start even if the neighbouring property is still affected.)

 And finally, to stem the flow of any flooding that reaches above the door sill level:

  • Enhanced seals and locks to the doors and windows to make them floodproof
  • Air brick covers
  • One-way valves in the main drains to prevent water coming up into the home via the sewers.
  • Drains fitted flush with the floor connected direct to the sump and pump (and so independent from the 'mains drainage'), can rapidly clear any flooding that does get into the home, pumping it out abouve the external floodwater level.

From the BRE Flickr album:

Launch of BRE Flood Resilent Home

BBC Countryfile

As seen on BBC Countryfile

For the filming for BBC Countryfile, several thousand litres of water poured into the home. Altough this only created a shallow 'flood', this would have caused severe damage to most homes, and taken days or weeks to properly dry out. Here, just an hour after filming was completed, the water had all been removed via the floor drains and sump pump, the floor was dry and you would not have known that the house had been flooded at all. See the clip from the BBC iPlayer (UK only)

Read the blog below from Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, and chair of the The property flood resilience action plan, BRE Chief Executive Peter Bonfield:

Building flood resilience into the fabric of Britain

Our climate is changing.

We are seeing more extreme weather events which could lead to increases in heavy rainfall and significantly increased risks from river and surface water flooding.

A growing population means more houses, which means more people will be at risk.

read on... (at .gov.uk)

Sponsors and supporters of the project

BRE Centre for Resilience would like to thank the following organisations and companies who have contributed to the flood resilient repair project.


Company / organisation



BRE Trust

The BRE Trust is the largest UK charity dedicated specifically to research and education in the built environment


Axa Insurance UK

Home and commercial insurance


Cunningham Lindsey

leading claims management and loss adjusting business in the UK.


Property Care Association

Trade association representing specialists who can be trusted to resolve problems affecting buildings.


Natural Cement Distribution Ltd

Special products are used by all construction sections worldwide


British Damage Management Association

The formation of the BDMA marked a milestone in relations between the insurance industry and those who provide recovery and restoration services


BACA Architects

Baca Architects has established a core specialism in waterfront and water architecture


Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UK Government department responsible for flood risk


The Environment Agency

Executive non-departmental public body responsible for flood risk policy in England



Flood reports and assessments through to design, installation, testing and maintenance


UK Flood Barriers

Specialist flood contractor, project managing multiple high profile contracts across domestic property schemes



Home and commercial insurance


Association of British Insurers

Home and commercial insurance trade association


HBOS Lloyds

Home and commercial insurance



The British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers’ Association (BRUFMA) is the representative body for the rigid PIR and Rigid PUR Foam Industry in the UK



Manufacturer of premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems



Ground-breaking products, solutions and services for the insulation market



Developer and manufacturer of polyurethane technology for use in thermal insulation, waterproofing and rigid foam products.



Science and innovation to support customers in nearly every industry in meeting the current and future needs of society


Concrete Block Association

The Concrete Block Association (CBA) is a trade body representing around 80% of concrete block manufacturers


Delta Membranes

Range of basement waterproofing systems and products available, from sump pumps to a variety of membranes



Range of specialist property preservation and repair services from survey and diagnosis through to completion of works


Tarmac Bellitex

Tarmac, a CRH company, is the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business.


Miinus Pustelli

Resilient, ecological and sustainable kitchen as possible throughout its entire lifecycle


Dragon Board

Resilient wallboard used for all internal and external walls, floors and ceilings.



If you want to learn more about planning for flood risks a look at our flood resilience and protection online courses.