Tommy’s Tips: Stormy Times Ahead


A recent mini-disaster for a neighbour, could quite easily have had serious repercussions for my property! The weather has been much warmer recently than the norm for this time of year, with very little rain In the South East, and history tells us ” Be prepared for a sudden shock change!” because life’s like that, and so it happened. Last Friday mid-afternoon the heavens suddenly opened, with loud peals of thunder, and fearsome flashes’ of lightening!

A deluge fell from the skies, and quickly turned into hail, with large marble sized ice-balls falling in such abundance that the lawn looked like an ice-skating rink! When the hail petered out, the rain continued in a deluge for what seemed like ages, and as I watched out of a 1st floor window, I noticed that my neighbour’s garden was under water, and was rising up the garden shed about 9 inches (220mm).

My neighbour has unfortunately become the victim of a particularly poor “so -called” builder, he has has built a rear extension to her house, which looks like a shanty-town “lean-two” with the one original drainage gulley now incorporated inside the new building, and paving the whole garden, and the neighbouring one (both houses are owned by the same neighbour) without introducing any new drainage to cope with the normal, let alone excessive rainfall, a big mistake by him, and what’s becoming a growing problem around the country!

I don’t normally interfere with the arrangements made between neighbours and their builders, but as my garden started to flood as a result of the problems created next door, I had to step in, and contacted the Local Authority building inspector.

There hadn’t been a building notice registered, regarding the works at the property, which should have been carried out under the inspectors supervision, in order to avoid exactly the type of disaster I am describing to you, and remember if building works are not supervised and signed off by the Local Authority building inspectorate or an Approved Inspector, it becomes much more difficult, in some cases, nigh on impossible to sell the property! I’ve told the builder what he has to do to correct the problem, and told him I expect nothing less!

This all brought into focus important issues regarding the protection of our homes against flood, as we rapidly approach Autumn, with Winter looming, then Spring: all three seasons have potential flash food weather! So what can we do?

Ensure all gutters and down pipes are clear and clean, with gullies, manholes and drains checked and cleaned, ensuring waste water is running away properly. Check all waste pipes and thresholds are sealed properly with mastic to prevent flood water entering the building. If you have your garden paved over, or are considering it, install a large soak-away within the boundaries of your garden to allow rainwater to dissipate into the ground rather than the main drains, which might not be able to cope with the increased pressure that a storm brings.

Paving over our front gardens to provide off street parking, and avoiding Local Authority parking charges is increasingly common all around the country, and is greatly increasing the risk of flooding. If you’re considering this, or even as a retrospective solution to an existing drive, install a drainage channel across your drive entrance, running to a large soak away installed in the front corner of your garden, a good distance away from your house, disguised as a rockery, or shrubbery, or even plant a tree. This will mean the water dissipates within your property, and avoids exacerbating the flood problem, and over-burdening the public drainage system! It is now a requirement when installing a new drive to have a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) to try and alleviate the surface water drainage system.

If you want to be really clever, and Eco-green, then install a rainwater harvesting system to catch the water, and re-use it for your personal needs, and save lots of money in the long term from your metered supply!

The lesson here is “if you fail to plan” then you “plan to fail!”

Tommy Walsh


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