We have all seen examples of homes and businesses destroyed by flooding during hurricanes or severe storms. While many of those buildings are decades old, new innovations in architecture and construction practices are showing how buildings can survive major flooding events without leading to a total loss of property.
Architectural Solutions to Flooding
One of the first steps in flood prevention architecture is to research whether the building is in a flood zone. FEMA has interactive flood zone maps available on its website for residents to check their flooding risk.
However, as climate change shifts flood maps across the world, more homes will likely need to be built that protect against flooding. Even if a new building is not currently in a flood zone, that may change in 20 or 30 years.
Another early step is to hire a civil engineer to develop an architectural plan for a building that is resistant to flooding. They can give you a set of design options that are specific to your region and that will fit within your budget.
It’s also a good idea to ask the engineer their thoughts on the long-term flood risk of the property. It is impossible to predict what will happen in future decades to a high degree of certainty, but they should discuss what outcomes are more likely.
Can You Make a Flood Proof House?
That depends on your definition of flood proof. Very few buildings are 100% flood proof, but different levels of resistance are possible depending on the location of the home. A home is typically considered flood-resistant if it can experience at least three days of floodwaters without sustaining significant or non-cosmetic damage.
There are two main types of flood proofing that your design will fall into. First, there is dry-proof, which seeks to prevent all water from entering a home. Then there is wet-proof, which accepts the potential for flooding but takes preventative measures to mitigate the damage.
Flood Zone House Designs
One of the first steps in creating a flood proof home is deciding where and how it will sit. Homes in flood-prone areas should be built in a high-elevation spot and may need their foundations raised by two or three feet.
The area around a home should also be engineered to drain water as much as possible. The lawn should be graded to allow water to flow away from the building and towards natural drainage. Gutters and other drainage systems should also be strategically placed to ensure the water ends up going to an area where it will flow away from the home.
Homes in especially flood prone areas are often built on stilts to keep them above the floodwaters. Some homes are built on top of platforms with pontoons or other devices, so they can float on top of the water.
Flooding can also come with high winds, so it is important that your home also have wind-resistant features, such as strong windows. If not, damage caused by wind could open the door (literally) to flooding.
Wet-proof homes are built with the assumption that floodwaters may enter them at some point, and they are engineered to mitigate the amount of damage. The floor and walls inside wet-proof homes are typically coated in a sealant that will protect them from short-term water damage. The electrical components, appliances, HVAC systems, and certain plumbing fixtures are also placed in areas where water is unlikely to reach.
If you’re planning on a wet-proof home, a sump pump is essential to emptying the water out of your home as fast as possible. Make sure your sump pump has a battery backup in case the power goes out.
Flood Proof Building Materials
- Ceramic Tile
- Pressure-Treated Wood
- Glazed Brick
- Closed-Cell & Foam Insulation
Examples of Flood Resilient Architecture
As innovations in flood prevention architecture advance, new ideas are being incorporated into the design of homes and businesses.
In 2013, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital was built on the Boston waterfront. The designers implemented a range of flood resistant features, including raising the building two feet higher than the 500-year flood elevation. Berms were also built as barriers against the floodwaters, and a drainage system was implemented around the building.
All of these steps will go a long way toward preventing the building from being flooded. However, even if the first floor of the hospital was flooded, the hospital could continue at full capacity. The first-floor equipment and workstations are designed to quickly move to the upper floors where the patients are at.
Flood Resistant Homes
In parts of Thailand where some areas are particularly prone to flooding, architects have been coming up with innovative designs for years. Some houses are built on platforms with steel pontoons around them that can cause the home to float on the water.
A home on an island near Washington was dubbed the “tsunami house” for its ability to withstand major floodwaters from the ocean. In a prime example of wet-proof design, its first-floor windows are designed to break under floodwaters to remove some of the pressure from its load-bearing walls. The entire first floor of the house, down to the furniture, is waterproof to prevent even minor damage to the living space.
How TrapBag Can Help
One of the best ways to prevent floodwaters from reaching a home is to deploy flood control barriers. TrapBags are an affordable and effective way to quickly build a flood wall to keep water from reaching your home. Unlike sandbags, TrapBags are structurally engineered in a pentagon-like shape to create a solid wall. They have been used as levees against flooding rivers, as seawalls during hurricanes, and as erosion control systems.
Employ TrapBags in Your Flood Architecture
Using flood prevention architecture is a great way to strengthen your home, but adding TrapBag to your strategy will make it even more effective. Reach out to our staff to find out how TrapBag could protect your home.