With the latest flooding disasters around the East coast of Australia and more specifically the New South Wales and South East Queensland coastlines, designing for flooding has become more and more topical and essential.

With the increase in these types of disasters due to climate change, insurance rates and premiums have been rising significantly. What use to be mostly a North Queensland problem has now become a major problem for all of Australia.  In the past few years, the need for flood insurance has become an expectation in home and contents insurance.

The question is, how can the design community, insurance agencies and the construction industry work together to ‘design out’ flood insurance?

The standard design for mainstream housing suppliers is Slab on Ground but with the increase in the geographical reach of flooding, the standard might not be the best design solution anymore.

Constructing new houses from sustainable timber framing and elevated in flood zones could / should become the standard, not just in Queensland. Could this be the best way to counteract or reduce the need for flood insurance? Slab on ground construction should be used outside of known flood zones.

It is our job as a combined industry to work better to ‘design out’ flood insurance so the community does not need to pay for this anymore.

It our duty as architects to highlight the dangers of ignoring climate change and instead promoting design solutions that futureproof housing.

After the scale of destruction of this week’s East Coast floods there are actions which the design community, construction industry and insurance companies could be taking in response.

As designers we can encourage raised design and ‘flood safe’ materials that become the initial standard we offer to clients and develop custom designs from there.

With climate change increasing flood zones, having more Home Builders offer raised buildings as part of their standard house design packages provides more appropriate housing for current as well as future flood zones.

We should anticipate climate change impacts in our housing design and construction for the next 50 years not 20 years.

Insurance companies could offer reduced rates for housing where they demonstrate futureproofing of flooding by elevating the house. This could provide an incentive for more people who are wanting to build or renovate to engage with architects and builders who implement flood safe design.