Disaster zone or winner’s circle?

Whether you live in Brisbane’s flood plain setting, or are surrounded by thick, drought-prone bushland, natural disaster zones can be both beautiful and hazardous. And never more so than in summer, now just a few months away. But you can protect your house and even enjoy great price growth and sales while enjoying life in our land of droughts and flooding rains, bushfires, storms and cyclones.

Disaster tests

Homes in risk-prone places can still sell for high prices, with many buyers happy to take the chance that floods and fires won’t occur again soon. For investors, such homes can also give back strong rental returns and similar. However, it’s still crucial to check certain points before buying these houses. Thanks to 21st century technology and an increasing awareness of natural disasters, buyers can assess the risk of an area well before the auction hammer falls. As an example, Brisbane City Council offers a free online flood awareness map wherein people can check specific addresses and larger suburban displays for potential downpour possibilities and impacts.

Factors to consider

Early on, you should start asking insurance companies about their premiums for disaster danger homes. Extra protection at more expense is often required for these properties. Bear in mind as well that the house may need substantial renovations after recent devastation and that insurances may rise after a flood or fire has swept through the vicinity. Consider paying for total replacement cover, which while potentially more expensive, should cover whatever costs are needed to repair or rebuild the house. Also ask your local council or similar about renovation rules. The home may be structurally sound with good plumbing and wiring but damp walls can be a problem for years after a flood. So, even more so than usual, ensure you obtain a professional building inspection ASAP. You may want to consider flood-resistant materials, structure anchorage and related issues.

Keeping safe in the future

For house owners already living in a flood, fire or storm-prone area, regular maintenance is extremely important. In flood risk spaces, ensure your house is elevated and set above flood levels, well away from rivers and ponds. Clean your gutters and drains regularly. If you’re in or near bushland, keep your house well clear of thick vegetation and throughout the year, clean the property lot of flammable leaves and bushes. If possible, install a reliable sprinkler system and keep lawns and trees moist.

Make no mistake. Buying a house in a disaster risk area isn’t for the faint-hearted but done well – and with maintenance continued into the future – your dream home can survive into the future.