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What to do if your commercial property is flooded

Posted in: Property Services

There are plenty of risk factors when you become a business owner, from staying one step ahead of competitors to balancing profits and keeping staff happy.

On top of these every-day business concerns, there are the practical considerations that come with owning or leasing a commercial property, from safety inspections and compliance to business Insurance and daily maintenance management.

Then there are the things that you can’t control. The so-called Acts of God that can sometimes literally drop from the sky and plunge the business into chaos.

At the time of writing, we were at the start of the UK’s Atlantic storm season. We had already seen Storm Callum cause havoc across the country and there were 23 more storms forecast between then and May 2019.

Flooded road and fields

Flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster in the UK. Since 1998 there has been at least one serious flood every year.

With the risks of flooding a real threat for some businesses, we look at what organisations should do if the worse should happen and their commercial property is flooded.

Is my business at risk of flooding?

Gov.uk has a page where you can find out if your property is at risk of flooding in England. You can check if it is at risk of flooding in the next 5 days or in an area that’s likely to flood in the future.

It also includes links to the flood maps for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Environment Agency has put together two documents that will help:

You can also read the RICS Consumer Guide to Flooding.

What should I do if my business is at risk from flooding?

Flooding can happen at any time. All it needs is the right weather conditions.

First of all, see if you can sign up for flood warnings. The documents and links above will help you to do this.

Now it’s time to put together a flood plan.

Flood Protection Sandbags with flooded homes in the background

What is a flood plan and what should I include in it?

A flood plan outlines how your business will respond to a flood, including:

  • A list of important contacts, building services, suppliers and evacuation contacts for staff
  • Locations of key property, protective materials and service shut-off points
  • Strategies for protecting property, preventing business disruption and assisting recovery
  • Checklists of procedures that can be quickly accessed by staff during a flood

The team at TPG is experienced in all kinds of compliance and risk management. We work with businesses in flood risk areas and help them to put in place an effective flood plan.

What should I do if my commercial property is flooded?

If the worst should happen, the first and most important thing to do is to assess the situation so that you and your staff are not put in danger.

Our surveyors have arrived at flooded premises to find the business had tasked staff with moving stock while the power circuits were still live! People were wading through the water and ignoring the electrical risk.

If it is safe to do so, turn off gas, water and electricity supplies when flood water is about to enter your property. Do not try to operate anything on mains power, including switching off the electrics while standing in flood water.

Windsor flooding

If you are able to do so safely, move occupants and valuables upstairs or to a high place with means of escape.

If your business has permanent occupants (i.e. a care home), ensure you have sufficient water and food for 24 hours, then wait for the flood waters to subside or the emergency services to arrive.

You should avoid all direct contact with flood water – flood water may contain sewage, dangerous chemicals and bacteria.

Watch your step because unseen obstacles may trip or injury you as you walk through flood water.

Call the Floodline for updates (0345 988 1188) or listen to the local radio.

Call 999 if you are in danger. Comply with their instructions if they tell you to evacuate.

Call the TPG 24/7 national emergency line for assistance with emergency and reinstatement works (02922 406 999).

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you lease your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.

What should I do after a flood?

Reinstating a commercial property after it is flooded will take anything from several weeks to many months.

This will depend on:

  • The extent of the flood and the number of properties affected
  • How long it takes to process the insurance claim
  • The time it takes to clean and dry the property
  • Repairing, replacing and redecorating everything in the affected areas

Water mitigation, disaster recovery

At TPG we’re experienced in helping companies get their properties back up and operational with the minimum disruption to the business.

In most cases, a loss adjuster will be appointed by the insurance company. However, it’s acceptable for a business to appoint a surveyor to project manage both the emergency works and the reinstatement works.

This can help to process the claim faster and speed up the process of getting the business up and running. A surveyor’s or project manager’s fees can often form part of the insurance claim.

The two phases of a flood project

All flooding jobs are split into two phases:

Phase 1 – The emergency works

This is when the water, damaged stock and damaged loose material, such as floor finishes, needs to be removed from the building.

Broken Parquets for reconstruction.

Phase 2 – The reinstatement works

This is where a surveyor produces a schedule of work and agrees to it with the loss adjuster, together with agreeing on the costs.

A surveyor can work quickly and in the best interests of your business, whereas a loss adjuster may not be able to. Just to be clear, this isn’t because they don’t care, it’s simply because loss adjusters will be very busy dealing with a high volume of claims.

When the costs are agreed with the loss adjuster, this is a good opportunity for the business occupier to look at any improvements that are needed within the property.

These improvements may not be covered by the loss adjuster but it might be more cost effective to implement them at the same time as the reinstatement works.

For example, flood protection barriers could be installed to prevent a future occurrence.

You could even refurbish areas adjacent to the flood-affected rooms in order to bring them up to the same standard.

Appointing the right contractors to the right work is vital

Luckily, the team at TPG have the in-house expertise to work with you and are specialists in sourcing the perfect people for the job at hand.

If you’ve been unlucky and your commercial property is flooded, get in touch today.

And if you haven’t but you know that you are in a flood-risk area, we can help you to formulate a flood plan.

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