Flood-resilient building and flood building requirements

Flooding is a natural process and can occur anywhere. Brisbane’s location on a floodplain, along with its sub-tropical climate and unique land features mean that residents may experience flooding in their lifetime.

When building or renovating in Brisbane, it is essential to consider how flooding may affect the property.

What is flood resilient design

Being flood resilient means you can plan, prepare, respond and return to normal life with minimal disruption following flooding.  

  • Flood-resilient design prepares buildings to withstand and recover from flooding events, while supporting everyday liveability and quality of life. It considers the use of materials, construction methods and the style of home.  
  • Flood-resilient design enables homeowners to safely store belongings prior to a flood event, and easily clean, repair and quickly move back in after such an event with minimal long-term disruption. By implementing flood-resilient design measures, homeowners can actively mitigate or minimise the effects of flooding.
  • Flood-resilient design is one way residents can be better prepared for flooding in Brisbane.

Learn more about flood-resilient design

Flood building requirements

When undertaking work on an existing or new building, you will need to understand:

  • the likelihood of property flooding from river, creek, storm tide or overland flow
  • the minimum habitable areas of the dwelling
  • when you may need to comply with guidelines for different Flood Planning Areas
  • how to submit updated surveyed ground and building levels
  • ways to make your property more flood resilient.

You can see how flooding may affect your property by downloading a FloodWise Property Report.

A FloodWise Property Report includes personalised property information to ensure your future building and development contributes to a safe, flood-resilient city. A FloodWise Property Report shows the likelihood and source of flooding at a specific property. This enables you to plan and build new habitable floor levels in accordance with Brisbane City Council's requirements.

Future planning and building in Brisbane are guided by Brisbane City Plan 2014. The plan guides how land in Brisbane is used and developed for the future. It also helps plan for infrastructure to support growth and protect our way of life.

Flood Resilient Homes Program

The Flood Resilient Homes Program is an initiative developed by Brisbane City Council and delivered by Brisbane Sustainability Agency. This program is designed to help residents prepare for, and recover from, overland flow flooding events.

The program is being trialled in locations across the city that have a history of frequent and severe overland flow flooding. This program is open to eligible properties by invitation only. 

Areas have been selected because they are regularly and severely impacted by overland flow flooding. These areas experience a 50% chance of flooding from overland flow every year and are located across the Brisbane Local Government Area, in upper, middle and lower parts of catchments.

The Flood Resilient Homes Program consists of a free in-home service, a free tailored property report and an incentive scheme for eligible properties.

Find out more information about the Flood Resilient Homes Program.

Flood resilience videos for homeowners 

A helpful guide for homeowners, providing information and suggestions for how you can secure your property.

You can also view this video on Council's YouTube channel.

Video transcript

Liz Cantor: Flooding is a natural process. Because of Brisbane's subtropical climate and unique land features, it means we all may experience flooding of some kind.

Hi, I'm Liz Cantor, Weather Presenter for 7 News and I've seen my share of weather events.

Brisbane City Council wants to ensure our community remains safe as our climate changes by adapting and preparing for severe storm and flood events.

In many cases it is not possible to completely avoid flooding.

Using flood resilient design and materials in your home is the new smart way to manage flooding.

Flood resilience means you can prepare for flooding and return to normal life with minimal disruption following a weather event.

Tom Yabsley: Building for flood resilience just makes sense to me because it's a common-sense approach to building

You see a lot when, after a flood comes through they'll just do a like-for-like replacement and we'd pull it out and see where the previous floods had been and then they're just replacing it with the same thing so it's happening again and again.

From a sustainability point of view it's a common sense way of building.

Liz: But how do you know if your home could flood?

First, check the Brisbane City Council Flood Awareness Maps online, there are some simple and affordable improvements you can make to help your home become more resilient.

Storm or flood damage to services such as electrical appliances, hot water systems, power points and air conditioners can cause safety issues and potentially cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair.

Paulo: The air conditioning unit outside was raised, the power points were raised, the hot water was raised as well.

All the doors are now solid doors.

If I get unlucky, and water rushes in, everything else is going to be - like washing - you just clean it up.

Liz: If you live in a multi-storey home, you may be able to separate the downstairs and upstairs electrical circuits.

This will lower the chance of disruption to your homes power during any flooding events.

Talk to your licensed electrician about how you can do this.

These are some of the simple ways you can easily protect your property.

Speak to a licensed tradesperson or visit us online to find out how you can create a more flood resilient home.

Advanced solutions for homeowners to make your property mode flood resilient.
 

You can also view this video on Council's YouTube channel.

Video transcript

Liz Cantor: Flooding is a natural process. Because of Brisbane's location on a flood plain, its subtropical climate and all of its waterways, it means that many people in Brisbane City have experienced a flood in their lifetime.

Hi, I'm Liz Cantor, Weather Presenter for 7 News and in my role, I've seen some increasingly wild weather events.

Brisbane City Council wants to ensure our community remains safe as our climate changes by adapting and preparing for severe storm and flood events.

Flood-resilient strategies won't stop the flooding but will ensure you spend less time cleaning up with minimal damage and expense and give you peace of mind that your home is being protected.

If you're renovating or thinking about it here are some effective solutions to chat with your builder or architect about to help improve flood resilience.

Flood waters can cause damage to floors, walls and cabinetry.

By using flood-resilient materials you will be able to recover more quickly after a flood event.

Leigh: Everything was ruined, pretty much, in the house - it had to be rebuilt.

All the walls were replaced and the installation was redone.

The kitchen, all the cabinetry, the doors, basically everything was replaced with flood-resilient materials, so if it ever floods again - hopefully not - it will be fine and I will be able to hose it out and re-paint.

James Davidson: So, basically there's a lot of new products on the market at the moment - such things as flooring materials, wall materials.

We look at doing work to cabinetry whereby we can actually swap out normal caucus material for cabinets etc. with materials that are non-flood affected and waterproof etc.

Tom Yabsley: Alright, so here I've just soaked two different wall linings.

This is the standard you'd see in most places and then here we've got an FC Sheet which we do use all the time anyway it's just about using the products that we'd mainly use in a wet area but just using them in general application.

You can sort of just see that it's covered in cardboard, this will just soak up the water, all the cardboard will peel off, whereas this FC Sheet, it's water-resilient.

It'll actually dry and dry out and hold its form.

Liz: Replace your carpets and other porous flooring with water-resistant flooring such as hard wood, tiles or polished concrete.

You should also use tiles or flood-resistant hard wood for skirtings.

Replace hollow core doors with solid core doors.

This will reduce the likelihood of your doors swelling and warping after a flood.

The construction of your home is just as important as the materials.

Engage a builder or architect who is familiar with flood-resilient designs and materials.

Replace existing stairs with open stairs made from flood-resilient materials, or simply remove the carpet.

For closed staircases which can trap water behind them, the first stair riser can be modified to be removal to let the water escape.

Use the same materials and water proofing techniques in your kitchen and your bathroom.

Flood resilient materials are cost effective, durable and add style.

So if you are renovating or building, talk to your architect or builder about flood resilient designs.

Find out more from us online.

Flood resilience video for contractors and builders

Building and construction solutions and techniques to assist property owners achieve a flood-resilient property.

You can also watch this video on Council's YouTube channel.

Video transcript

Liz Cantor: Flooding is a natural process. Because of Brisbane's subtropical climate and its many waterways, it means it's possible that your clients may not be aware of their flood risk or the benefits to building in a flood-resilient way.

I'm Liz Cantor, Weather Presenter for 7 News and I've seen my share of weather events.

Brisbane City Council wants to ensure that with your help, our community remains safe as our climate changes by adapting and preparing for severe storm and flood events.

There is a growing demand for flood and climate resilient strategies when renovating and building new homes.

Customers want a home where they feel safe and have peace of mind that their investment is protected.

Flood resilience strategies won't stop the flooding but they will ensure that you spend less time cleaning up with less damage and expense.

By proactively offering outcomes for your clients you're positioning your business as one that's up to date with current building techniques.

James Davidson: The aim was to enable people to effectively live through an event and then wash it out very easily afterwards.

The elements of a house that we actually look into - such things as flooring materials, wall materials, construction systems relating to non-cavity construction.

The point of that is to have an impact on the broader community by doing things better.

Liz: Here are some of the ways you can take advantage of these flood-resilient techniques and contribute to building a more resilient city.

To get more property specific information, check out the Flood Awareness Mapping information available on the Brisbane City Council website.

This will show you what flood levels homes might expect and you should consider getting a floor level survey done - and encourage your client to use flood-resilient materials instead.

Tom Yabsley Building for flood resilience just makes sense to me because it's a common-sense approach to building.

You see a lot when, after a flood comes through, they'll do a like-for-like replacement and we'd pull it out and see where the previous floods had been and then they're just replacing it with the same thing and it's just happening again and again, so from a sustainability point of view it's a common-sense way of building.

It's basically about looking at every room as a wet room.

We'll waterproof it like we would, a bathroom so we're tanking the walls to the floors and that just eliminates any chance of water getting into the cavity.

Liz: The good news is that flood resilient construction is based on easy-to-find materials and pre-existing building techniques.

This can be presented as a complete package that solves your customer's needs.

There are plenty of tools and resources available online, visit our website to find out more.

Last updated: 8 September 2022

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