Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (2023)

SUFFOLK, Va. — Whenever historic homes get flooded, building contractors often feel compelled by government regulations to rip out the water-logged wood flooring, tear down the old plaster walls and install new, flood-resistant materials.

It's a hurried approach that's likely to occur across southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian. But restorers Paige Pollard and Kerry Shackelford say they know something that science is yet to prove: historic building materials can often withstand repeated soakings. There's often no need, they say, to put in modern products such as box-store lumber that are both costly to homeowners and dilute a house's historic character.

"Our forefathers chose materials that were naturally rot-resistant, like black locust and red cedar and cypress," said Shackelford, who owns a historic restoration business. "And they actually survive better than many of the products we use today."

Pollard and Shackelford are part of an emerging movement in the U.S. that aims to prove the resilience of older homes as more fall under the threat of rising seas and intensifying storms due to climate change. They hope their research near Virginia's coast can convince more government officials and building contractors that historic building materials often need cleaning — not replacing — after a flood.

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (1)

In Florida, historic preservationists already fear older homes damaged by Ian may be stripped of original materials because so few craftsmen are available who can properly perform repairs.

"There are some companies that just roll through, and their job is just to come in and gut the place and move on," said Jenny Wolfe, board president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Pollard and Shackelford's joint venture in Virginia, the retrofit design firm Building Resilient Solutions, opened a lab this year in which planks of old-growth pine, oak and cedar are submerged into a tank mimicking flood conditions. The tests are designed to demonstrate historic materials' durability and were devised with help from Virginia Tech researchers.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on similar research at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois.

Researchers there have read through construction manuals from the mid-19th and early 20th centuries to assemble everything from tongue-and-groove flooring to brick walls coated with plaster. The materials were lowered into water containing bacteria and mold to simulate tainted floodwater.

The research may seem glaringly redundant considering all of the older homes that stand intact along the nation's coasts and rivers: many have withstood multiple floods and still boast their original floors and walls.

Pollard and Shackelford say lumber in older homes is resilient because it came from trees that grew slowly over decades, if not centuries. That means the trees' growth rings were small and dense, thereby making it harder for water to seep in. Also, the timber was cut from the innermost part of the trunk, which produces the hardest wood.

Plaster can also be water resistant, while common plaster coatings were made from lime, a substance with antiseptic qualities.

But here's the problem: U.S. floodinsurance regulations often require structures in flood-prone areas to be repaired with products classified as flood-resistant. And many historic building materials haven't been classified because they haven't been tested.

U.S. regulations allow exceptions for homes on the National Register of Historic Places as well as some state and local registries. But not everyone fully understands or is aware of the exceptions, which can be limited.

The far bigger challenge is a lack of expertise among contractors and local officials, Pollard said. Interpretations of the regulations can vary, particularly in the chaos after a major flood.

"You've got a property owner who's in distress," said Pollard, who co-owns a historic preservation firm. "They're dealing with a contractor who's being pulled in a million directions. And the contractors are trained to get all of that (wet) material into a dumpster as quickly as possible."

(Video) The Flood Proof Home of the Future | Grand Designs

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (2)

In Norfolk, Virginia, Karen Speights said a contractor replaced her original first floor — made from old-growth pine — with laminate flooring after her home flooded.

Built in the 1920s, Speights' two-story craftsman is in Chesterfield Heights, a predominantly Black neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places. It sits along an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay in one of the most vulnerable cities to sea-level rise.

"I still believe I had a good contractor, but flooding was not his expertise," Speights said. "You don't know what you don't know."

Along Florida's Gulf Coast, there are thousands of historic structures, said Wolfe of the Florida Trust. A large number of them are wood-framed houses on piers with plaster-and-lath walls.

Many likely just need to be dried out after Ian, Wolfe said. But only so many local contractors know what to do "in terms of drying them slowly and opening up the baseboards to get circular airflow."

Andy Apter, president-elect of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, agreed that many contractors aren't well-versed in older building materials.

"There's no course that I know of that teaches you directly how to work on historical homes," said Apter, a Maryland contractor. "It's like an antique car. You're going to be limited on where you can find parts and where you can find someone who's qualified to work on it."

But interest in the resilience of older homes has grown since Hurricane Katrina, which deluged hundreds of thousands of historic structures along the Gulf Coast in 2005, according to Jenifer Eggleston, the National Park Service's chief of staff for cultural resources, partnerships and science.

Eggleston said the park service recognized the growing need to protect older structures and issued new guidelines last year for rehabilitating historic buildings in flood-prone areas.

Biden’s pot pardons likely to have little effect in Illinois, experts say

The guidelines recommend keeping historic materials in place when possible. But they don't list specific materials due to the lack of research on their flood resistance.

That's where the studies come in.

A recent study by the park service and Army Corps found that some historic materials, such as old-growth heart pine and cypress flooring, performed considerably better than certain varieties of modern lumber, Eggleston said.

Those particular floor assemblies could be dried for reuse after so-called "clean water" damage, Eggleston said. But they would likely require refinishing to remove "biological activity," such as mold and bacteria.

Pollard and Shackelford said they're hoping for an eventual shift in practices that will save money for homeowners as well as taxpayers, who often foot the bill after a major disaster.

In the meantime, flooding in historic areas will only get worse from more frequent rain storms or more powerful hurricanes, said Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

"Think about our historic settlement patterns in the country," Berginnis said. "On the coasts, we settled around water. Inland, we settled around water."

These are the top paid players on every NHL team

Anaheim Ducks

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (3)

Arizona Coyotes

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (4)

(Video) Flood Resilient Homes in Vietnam and Bangladesh

Boston Bruins

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (5)

Buffalo Sabres

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (6)

Calgary Flames

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (7)

Carolina Hurricanes

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (8)

Colorado Avalanche

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (10)

Columbus Blue Jackets

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (11)

Dallas Stars

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (12)

Detroit Red Wings

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (13)

Edmonton Oilers

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (14)

Florida Panthers

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (15)

(Video) Building A House That Floods Every Year | Grand Designs: House of the Year | Channel 4

Los Angeles Kings

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (16)

Minnesota Wild

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (17)

Montreal Canadiens

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (18)

Nashville Predators

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (19)

New Jersey Devils

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (20)

New York Islanders

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (21)

New York Rangers

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (22)

Philadelphia Flyers

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (24)

Pittsburgh Penguins

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (25)

San Jose Sharks

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (26)

(Video) Flood Resilience: Mitigation measures for historic properties & maintaining architectural integrity

Seattle Kraken

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (27)

St. Louis Blues

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (28)

Tampa Bay Lightning

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (29)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (30)

Vancouver Canucks

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (31)

Vegas Golden Knights

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (32)

Washington Capitals

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (33)

Winnipeg Jets

Historic homes may prove to be more resilient against floods (34)

0 Comments

'); var s = document.createElement('script'); s.setAttribute('src', 'https://assets.revcontent.com/master/delivery.js'); document.body.appendChild(s); window.removeEventListener('scroll', throttledRevContent); __tnt.log('Load Rev Content'); } } }, 100); window.addEventListener('scroll', throttledRevContent);

FAQs

How do you resilient a house flood? ›

Simplest and cheapest steps to flood proof your home
  1. Stock up on sandbags. ...
  2. Varnish wooden skirting boards. ...
  3. Air brick covers. ...
  4. Fit non-return valves on drains and pipes. ...
  5. Shelving.

How to flood proof a house uk? ›

As the UK climate changes so must our preparation for flood events
  1. Removable barriers on doors and windows.
  2. Temporary seals for doors and air bricks.
  3. One-way valves on toilets and drainage pipes to decrease the risk of sewage backing up into a building during a flood.

What is flood resilient architecture? ›

The exhibition explores how architecture has to adapt to the growing climate reality of urban flooding. through a series of projects – proposed and realised – by leading architects around the world in the field of flood resilient architecture. Architecture must adapt to a new climate reality: urban flooding.

What can we do to prevent floods? ›

Flood-proof Structures

Elevate the furnace, water heater, air conditioner and other utilities. Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent flood water back ups. Construct interior barriers to stop low level floodwater from entering basements. Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

What does flood proof mean? ›

Any combination of structural and non-structural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents.

What is a flood resistant home? ›

flood resistant houses. Walls can be made of brick up to window level, increasing their resilience. Jute panels make also make. resilient walls that cost very little yet are quick and easy.

What materials can withstand floods? ›

Commonly available flood damage resistant materials include the following:
  • concrete, concrete tile, and pre-cast concrete.
  • latex or bituminous, ceramic, clay, terrazzo, vinyl, and rubber sheets and tiles.
  • pressure-treated (PT) or decay resistant lumber.
  • PT wood and cold-formed steel.

What type of houses should be built in flood prone areas? ›

Stilt houses in India are most commonly built in places that are prone to flooding, stilt houses are raised on stilts and are higher than a regular house. Regular homes are built on land but stilt houses use strong stilts, to avoid the risks of flooding or even pests and vermin.

How do you build a house in a flood prone area? ›

In flood prone areas, houses should be built on a raised column or plinth beam foundation. The space below the house should be left open to facilitate the natural flow of water. Low weight houses can be built on concrete pillars on moderate budget. Besides, houses built this way could withstand earthquakes and floods.

Can you build a flood wall around your house? ›

Some localities restrict the construction of individual floodwalls. It is important to check your local zoning/building code to determine if it is possible to build floodwalls on your property. If the water levels rise above the highest expected flood level, floodwalls can overturn and fail.

How can we prevent flood essay? ›

The government must ensure there is a quality building of dams to prevent floods. In short, we cannot prevent natural causes like rain and the melting of glaciers. However, we can stop the manmade causes like breaking of dams, poor drainage system, installing warning systems and more.

What materials can withstand a flood? ›

Instead, consider using a closed cell, plastic insulation such as expanded polystyrene and polyurethane, which are pretty much water-resistant. Extruded polystyrene is particularly good. Handmade bricks are very absorbent but engineering bricks are virtually waterproof, so utilise them up to likely flood levels.

What is a flood resistant home? ›

flood resistant houses. Walls can be made of brick up to window level, increasing their resilience. Jute panels make also make. resilient walls that cost very little yet are quick and easy.

How does a flood resistant house work? ›

The primary material used in the construction is concrete with highly buoyant insulating materials which keep the house stable and also helps it stay afloat during floods. There are four vertical posts that navigate the house upwards during the event of a flood as the water level rises.

What does flood proof mean? ›

Any combination of structural and non-structural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their contents.

How do you make a building flood resistant? ›

Some examples of dry floodproofing include the installation of watertight shields for windows and doors; use of sealants and membranes to reduce seepage of floodwaters through walls; reinforcement of walls to withstand the pressures from floodwaters.

How do you build a house in a flood prone area? ›

In flood prone areas, houses should be built on a raised column or plinth beam foundation. The space below the house should be left open to facilitate the natural flow of water. Low weight houses can be built on concrete pillars on moderate budget. Besides, houses built this way could withstand earthquakes and floods.

Can you build a flood wall around your house? ›

Some localities restrict the construction of individual floodwalls. It is important to check your local zoning/building code to determine if it is possible to build floodwalls on your property. If the water levels rise above the highest expected flood level, floodwalls can overturn and fail.

What type of houses should be built in flood prone areas? ›

Stilt houses in India are most commonly built in places that are prone to flooding, stilt houses are raised on stilts and are higher than a regular house. Regular homes are built on land but stilt houses use strong stilts, to avoid the risks of flooding or even pests and vermin.

What was used to protect the city from floods? ›

In many countries, rivers prone to floods are often carefully managed. Defences such as levees, bunds, reservoirs, and weirs are used to prevent rivers from bursting their banks. When these defences fail, emergency measures such as sandbags or portable inflatable tubes are used.

Which type of houses are built in the places where flood is common? ›

The stilt houses in India are usually built in those areas that are prone to high rainfall and flooding. The stilt houses are being raised on well-built stilts and are at a much higher level as compared to a regular house.

Where are flood walls used? ›

Flood walls are mainly used on locations where space is scarce, such as cities or where building levees or dikes (dykes) would interfere with other interests, such as existing buildings, historical architecture or commercial use of embankments.

Why should we construct buildings above flood levels? ›

Elevating a building above base flood elevation (BFE) is an effective way to provide protection from storm-related flooding, as well as flooding from high tide due to sea level rise.

What is a flood mitigation plan? ›

Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk).

What impact is climate change having on flood management? ›

Other impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, will make coastal storms and floods even more damaging, as erosion and flooding will occur further up the shoreline. Climate change projections also show that tropical cyclones are likely to occur further south and be more damaging.

Is a flood? ›

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. Floods are an area of study in the discipline of hydrology. They are the most common and widespread natural severe weather event. Floods can look very different because flooding covers anything from a few inches of water to several feet.

Videos

1. Pete and Corey discuss 'flood resilience' in old buildings
(Peter Ward)
2. Essay on a flood scene in english || A flood scene essay in english
(SAZ education)
3. Our Flood Resilient Home - Episode 03
(Hazard and Hope)
4. Why we need to earthquake-proof old buildings | Dr. Kit Miyamoto | TEDxCSUS
(TEDx Talks)
5. Flood damage and old buildings
(Peter Ward)
6. Flood essay ||essay writing on flood ||flood essay writing ||Let's write||
(Let's Write)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Corie Satterfield

Last Updated: 03/30/2023

Views: 6038

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Corie Satterfield

Birthday: 1992-08-19

Address: 850 Benjamin Bridge, Dickinsonchester, CO 68572-0542

Phone: +26813599986666

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Table tennis, Soapmaking, Flower arranging, amateur radio, Rock climbing, scrapbook, Horseback riding

Introduction: My name is Corie Satterfield, I am a fancy, perfect, spotless, quaint, fantastic, funny, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.