As the UK finds itself in the grip of increasingly extreme weather, we take a look back at how the self-builders behind this Grand Designs house protected their property against the risk of flooding.

amphibious house from grand designs on lake   

Image: There were lengthy discussions with the Environment Agency before planning consent for the amphibious home was granted. Photography: Darren Chung 

The Met Office has reported that 2019 was a year of UK weather extremes, including record-breaking high temperatures and significant rainfall. Across the UK, rainfall was above average in March and for most months from June onwards, with several incidences of flooding in the second half of the year. Autumn rainfall records were broken for Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire – Sheffield had its second-wettest year since records began in 1883.

Latest assessment by UK Climate Projections, the Met Office’s climate-analysis tool, points to a greater chance of ongoing warmer, wetter winters – so with rainfall levels set to increase, what can be done to protect the 1 in 6 homes in England currently at serious risk of flooding? As the UK becomes wetter, there seems little doubt that there needs to be investment poured into innovative design and construction solutions for our changing climate.

Self-builders considering buying a plot can check the Environment Agency flood maps to check the site’s risk level. But building a home that can adapt to rising water is possible, as demonstrated by Grand Designers Andy and Nicki Bruce’s amphibious house back in 2014, a UK-first designed by Baca Architects.

GRAND DESIGNS AMPHIBIOUS HOUSE OPEN PLAN LIVING AREA WITH VIEWS OVER THE WATER

Image: The open plan living area opens out on to a terrace overlooking the river. Photography: Darren Chung 

Built in an area prone to flooding, on the banks of the River Thames in Buckinghamshire, Andy and Nicki’s home is constructed on a concrete box, or dock, that forms the basement level. Mechanisms, known as dolphins, ensure that the timber-frame house rises with the water level. And should the area flood, there will be no damage to the house or its contents.

The project took just under two years to complete. Along the way, the construction was halted for nearly 12 weeks because of extensive flooding along the Thames, which left the site at least four feet under water.

 grand designs amphibious house front

Image: Zinc cladding wraps around the building’s exterior on two sides. Photography: Darren Chung 

For more ideas on how to ensure your build is flood-proof, the National Flood Forum provides practical advice and a directory of retrofit products and services designed to reduce the chance of water getting into a property.

RIBA has also recently published Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A Guide to Building & Community Design by Edward Barsley. Aimed primarily at architects, engineers and urban planners, the book highlights ways in which the built and natural environment can be adapted to reduce the severity of the negative consequences of flooding.

 

Do you have concerns over flood risks to your home? Share your thoughts with us by tweeting us @granddesigns or post a comment on our Facebook page.

 

MORE ARTICLES

Revolutionary flood-resistant timber self build in Oxfordshire

Read more about the Amphibious House

More Grand Designs TV houses...

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
visit-award-winning-grand-designs-live-hosted-by-kevin-mccloud
 
 
grand-designs-episodes-to-watch-while-self-isolating
Grand Designs TV Houses

8 of the best Grand Designs episodes to watch while social distancing

Need some episodes to add to your watching queue? The Grand Designs magazine team pick some of their favourite ever episodes.
flood-proofing-home-grand-designs
Grand Designs TV Houses

How to build a flood-proof home

As extreme weather and record-breaking rainfall is leading to increasing instances of flooding in the UK, we look back at one Grand Designs house designed...
grand-designs-house-of-year-winner
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs: House of the Year 2019 winner revealed

This year's winner of RIBA's House of the Year has been announced - find out which creative build stole the crown.
grand-designs-house-of-the-year
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs House of the Year 2019 shortlist

Which houses have been shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year 2019? We've got details, as featured on Grand Designs House of the Year...
q-a-with-the-creator-of-the-rockhouse-retreat-angelo-mastropietro
Grand Designs TV Houses

Q&A with Grand Designer of The Rockhouse Retreat Angelo Mastropietro

Angelo Mastropietro is the creator and mastermind behind The Rockhouse Retreat. We speak to him all about his story so far.
grand-designs-2019-episode-2-lincolnshire
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs 2019 episode 2: the dramatic Lincolnshire round house

Take a tour of the second TV house featured in 2019's Grand Designs TV series, aired on 11th September 2019 on Channel 4 and hosted...