Brisbane City Council has raised building heights for new and significantly renovated houses in flood-affected areas. Will this give property values the confidence boost they desperately need?
BY NICOLE NAVARRO
Prior to southeast Queensland’s recent flood disaster, Brisbane City Council required builders and developers to construct all habitable living areas on Brisbane River flood prone land at least 3.7 metres plus 500 millimetres above the ground.
Post January floods, for rebuilding and new development purposes in the flood-affected areas, builders must construct to the highest of either the January 2011 Brisbane River flood event or the Defined Flood Level (the January city gauge flood level of 4.46 metres plus 500 millimetres).
While residential homeowners won’t be bound by law to elevate their existing dwellings to the new standard unless lifting the house or undergoing a major renovation, council is encouraging the practice.
As a result of this elevation, suburbs hit hardest by the floods including Chelmer, Tennyson, Rocklea and Rosalie could see up to a two-metre elevation of their lowest habitable level.
Responding to the elevation of minimum building heights is the relaxation of the maximum house height from 8.5 metres to 9.5 metres for dwellings meeting the new standard in flood-affected areas with no development approval needed.
For residential house values undergoing the elevation, the new minimum and maximum height standards could be extremely positive, particularly once new minimum defined flood heights are reflected in the flood maps and data is easily available to property buyers online.
However once Brisbane property owners begin the rebuild to the new 9.5-metre maximum height, those choosing to sit on their hands could experience a negative impact on their property values, particularly if their neighbour chooses to elevate.
An added bonus for those rebuilding to the new maximum height could even see
those properties that just missed out on a river glimpse now able to sell their properties with river views. Surely that’s a property price strengthener?
So if selling, not only could potential buyers be standing in front of a house with new glimpses of the river or another aspect, but also a flood-proof property.
While it’s not mandatory for existing houses to adapt to the new standards because of the costs involved in doing so, experts say it’ll be a question asked by buyers in the future as part of their due diligence process.
As a result of increasing the height standard, council says a further five per cent of properties (9767) in Brisbane River flood prone areas would soon fall below the new Defined Flood Level.
The result? Buyers could soon be paying a premium for properties renovated to the new 2011 standard. A lift to new flood standards would also mean lenders and insurers would be happier to come back and join the party in Brisbane’s river suburbs.
Read more about the raised building heights in flood-affected areas of Queensland in the Queensland state story on page 90 of the June issue of API.
Tell us your thoughts about the new building heights. What impact will it have on property values?
Nicole Navarro is a journalist and subeditor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au