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The Property Flood Resilience Code of Practice

What is the Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice for property flood resilience is a set of standards and guidance that aims to ensure that PFR products are delivered to a consistently high quality. The standards aim to inspire confidence in PFR products. The Code of Practice covers individual properties, residential or non-residential. It can be used in a variety of circumstances, including when retrofitting PFR on an existing property as a precaution, repairing flood-damaged buildings, refurbishing existing buildings at flood risk or when building new developments. The Code of Practice comprises a set of six standards accompanied by a detailed guidance document. There is also supplementary, easy to follow guidance for home owners and planners that can be used as a quick reference before reverting to the detailed guidance. The Code of Practice will be invaluable to all property owners and occupiers, as well as authorities, the property sector, trades and financial influencers and most importantly, insurers. The development of the Code of Practice has been led by the Property Flood Resilience Action Plan group, (Round Table), which is an industry wide collaboration guided by Defra. CIRIA (the Construction Industry Research and Information Association), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improvements in the construction industry, has written the Code of Practice under their guidance and has included a vast range of experts from across the flood sector and other interested parties in the development of this document which is also backed by the UK’s leading professional institutions and the insurance sector. Ultimately the Code of Practice will give confidence to the Insurance Industry, who have invested in and backed its development as part of their role on the Round Table, providing a route to affordable insurance for properties at risk of flooding that may not be currently available.

Why is the Code of Practice needed?

As PFR is a relatively new industry, the Code of Practice is invaluable in ensuring that PFR is delivered to a high standard to bring reassurance to property owners. When PFR is delivered effectively, it can help to reduce the damage and resulting costs of flooding, as well as speeding up recovery times and ensuring that the measures can be easily used by the property owner or occupier. Correct installation of PFR measures by a trained professional can bring comfort to property owners knowing that their measures will operate as intended when they are needed most. The Code of Practice provides guidance for professionals to follow, and for property owners and occupiers to consult, when a PFR installation is being carried out.

A flood barrier in action. Image: Mary Dhonau

What does the Code of Practice mean when PFR is being installed?

PFR installation takes place in four distinct phases: assessment and survey; design; construction; and operation. The Code of Practice divides these into six stages, each of which has its own set of standards to make sure that it is delivered effectively. These stages provide guidance for best practice to be followed by surveyors, designers and contractors. The six stages are:

  1. Hazard assessment – a property-level assessment that summarises information about the flood hazard to determine the likelihood and consequences of flooding from different sources.
  2. Property survey – a survey carried out by a qualified consultant that assesses the property’s current level of flood resilience and provides information for PFR delivery.
  3. Options development and design – options are detailed and agreed by all parties, which informs the installation of the PFR measures.
  4. Construction – installation of the PFR measures in accordance with regulations, instructions and best practice.
  5. Commissioning and handover – checks and a post-installation audit are carried out to ensure that the PFR measures operate as intended. Users are provided with all relevant information about their PFR products and their operation and maintenance. This stage may also in future include certification by an accredited body to satisfy insurance requirements.
  6. Operation and maintenance – the property owner takes responsibility for the operation and maintenance of their PFR products including handover to new owners and occupiers in future.

Flood resilient repair in progress. Image: Delta Membrane Systems

The Code of Practice provides clarity and confidence whilst ensuring that the property owner or occupier’s needs are met with respect to their individual circumstances. Everyone involved in the PFR process needs to clearly understand what the property owner or occupier hopes to achieve from the installation, and the measures installed should fully meet these aims. Professional help with the selection of PFR measures helps to ensure that the property owner receives value for money and that the measures installed are appropriate for the property’s level of flood risk. The property owner and occupier’s needs, preferences and abilities should always be the main focus when choosing the measures to install.

All parties involved in the installation need to communicate openly at all stages, addressing any concerns or questions proactively. All stages of the PFR process should be delivered by competent individuals who are experienced in the installation of PFR products and have professional memberships or certified training, as well as the correct insurance.

How do I use the Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice should be used as a reference tool at every stage of the PFR installation journey. It provides a benchmark to ensure that property owners and occupiers are receiving the correct help, support and advice when PFR is being installed. There is a useful checklist resource (link to download on website) available for property owners and occupiers so that they can follow all stages of the process. This highlights information that should be included in assessments and surveys, points to discuss during options development, questions to ask contractors during construction and commissioning and tips for taking responsibility for operation and maintenance.

A flood barrier being fitted. Image: Flood Divert

How does the Code of Practice benefit me?

The Code of Practice helps to provide property owners and occupiers with reassurance and guidance throughout the PFR installation process. Ensuring that the Code of Practice is followed can help to provide residents with direction in what can be a confusing and difficult time. A quality PFR installation can help to reduce the risk of flood damage to properties in the future, as well as ensuring that the PFR measures installed will remain effective in the years to come. If a resident chooses to invest in PFR, the Code of Practice can give them confidence that their investment is worthwhile, and the insurance industry the confidence to provide affordable insurance cover.

Accessibility – recently released

The Code of Practice was released in February 2020, and the Detailed Guidance explaining how to use it was released onto the CIRIA website in January 2021 (see accompanied by simplified guidance for home owners/occupiers and planners. It is free to down load and you will need to sign up for an account on the CIRIA website to access these downloads which is very easy to do. It is hoped that in the future, the guidance can be shared more widely through as many channels as possible and will also be available to purchase in hard copy form later in 2021.

If you would like to download the Resident and Business guide to the Code of Practice, you can find a link on the resources page of the Yorkshire Flood Resilience website.