The home-buying season is in full swing in North America — and flood season is still on.
After overflowing rivers ravaged communities in Newfoundland and British Columbia, the Town of Banff, Alta., received its own flood alert on Tuesday. And flash flooding turned the streets of Maryland’s historic Ellicott City into rapids on Sunday.
So how can homebuyers reduce the risk that the biggest investment of their lives will at some point end up under water?
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the headlines. With extreme weather events now happening with alarming frequency, flooding is becoming increasingly common, even for homes that are nowhere close to waterways. And a basement flooded by sewer backup after a torrential downpour wouldn’t make the news.
Flooding has overtaken fire as the No. 1 cause of home insurance payouts, with claims for flooded basements averaging $43,000 in major cities. And yet, there isn’t much in Canada that would help homebuyers assess that risk, says Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.
A home inspection, for example, will likely tell you little about whether you should waterproof the basement or regrade the perimeter of your future home so that the water flows away from the foundations.
“Home inspectors receive virtually zero training on flood risk assessment,” Feltmate told Global News.