Australia is no stranger to extreme weather. Our weather has always been characterised by bushfires, cyclones and floods affecting the country’s many different climates and geographies. The recent floods in Australia, which affected parts of South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, had many of us asking: what damage can floods cause? 

With extreme events like floods becoming more frequent, the devastating impacts of flooding are at the front of every property owner and buyer’s mind. It’s important to prioritise minimising risk and maximising resilience in all our property buying, selling and maintenance decisions in order to make smart property investments. To help you do that, we’re going over the major defects that flooding causes to properties and how to identify if a property is at risk of flooding before you buy.

Floods in QLD and NSW

Australia’s climate varies greatly by region. While the ‘red centre’ is arid and dry, the eastern coast is temperate to the south, subtropical in the centre and tropical in the north of Queensland. 

The humidity of this region, which covers northern New South Wales and much of Queensland, along with the development of low-lying flood plain areas to accommodate population growth, leave tens of thousands properties within it at risk of flooding.

What damage can floods cause?

what damage can floods cause - pest infestation

Pest infestations are a common consequence of floods.

In the aftermath of a flood, property inspectors are often called to assess the damage and refer information back to owners and insurers. 

Here is a list of the types of flood damage we find in flood-affected properties.

  1. Mould. Moisture always paves the way for mould. It’s as upsetting visually as it is physically – mould poses a significant health risk and requires professional treatment.
  2. Pests. A pest infestation can often result from flooding due to the increased and prolonged moisture. Ants and spiders move inside for dry land even before major rain starts, and spiders, cockroaches, rodents and even snakes often arrive shortly later. Stagnant water creates the perfect breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes and flies, so the longer flood cleanup takes, the worse the pest problems are likely to be.
  3. Structural damage. Flooding causes all manner of harm to houses, and some of the most serious impacts are structural. These include:
Flood damage - mould - Coastal Building Inspections May

Water damage to ceiling, causing mould, is a common defect caused by flooding.

    • Drywall weakening
    • Damaged insulation
    • Electrical hazards from wiring damage
    • Erosion around and inside of the building
    • Distortion of structural elements, particularly in wooden houses

How to tell if a property has been flooded before

Before buying a property, particularly in a low-lying area, you should find out if it has been impacted by flooding before. This is actually easy to do – visit the Department of Natural Resources and Mines’ (DNRM) FloodCheck Map to get mapping and data on historical flooding throughout Australia and see if the property in question is in a flooded zone.

As property owners and buyers throughout Queensland and New South Wales continue to repair and recover from flooding, understanding flood impacts and how to avoid buying an at-risk property has never been more important. Use all the tools and information at your disposal to make educated – and profitable – decisions!

Already had a building inspection, and just need some help understanding it? Check out our article: Understanding your building inspection: Major defects vs minor defects