bendigo
Flooding in Ascot, a northern suburb of Bendigo. Image – James Rossi AAP
  • Major flooding continues, especially in central Victoria
  • Climate change is expected to make flooding and other natural disasters more damaging to property
  • One in 25 Australian homes could become uninsurable by the end of the decade

With south-eastern Australia currently in the mid of a flood crisis, several property experts have reiterated the situation calls for better consideration of where and how houses are built.

Much of Castlemaine, a regional Victorian town about 130km northwest of Melbourne near Bendigo, has lost power due to the flooding of the substation.

Flood warnings remain in place for many nearby towns.

Flood levels in Seymour, 100 km east of Castlemaine, are expected to reach similar levels to the May 1974 flood, which was the second-largest in Seymour’s history, according to the SES.

Majority of housing not suitable for current climate

In light of this, Dr Trivess Moore, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University, said failing to recognise this impact of flooding and climate change more broadly means it is a long and volatile road ahead for Australian housing.

“The majority of existing and new housing in Australia is not suitable for performing in our current climate,” he said.

“Predicted climate changes over the coming decades will only exacerbate this issue for many Australian households.

“We are already seeing the negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing during extreme weather events. In some cases, households will find their housing unliveable for periods of time if we see climate change much further.”

Dr Trivess Moore, RMIT

Dr Moore said before purchasing an existing house, buyers should seek out information regarding the quality and performance of the house.

“Home energy assessments, such as the Scorecard, can provide households with the likely performance of the dwelling as well as some key opportunities for improving performance through cost-efficient retrofit.”

“New housing standards will increase in 2023 but while this will make housing more resilient to a changing climate, there is more that should be done to future-proof new housing moving forward.” 

Fellow RMIT lecturer Dr Peng Yew Wong added that Australian housing is in the middle of its most volatile period since the beginning of the century due to natural and mad-made disasters.

 “About one in 25 Australian homes are at high risk of becoming effectively uninsurable by 2030, according to a new Climate Council report based on analysis by a climate risk assessment group,” Dr Wong said.

“With the insurance companies already imposing higher insurance premium (or not insuring at all) and the banks getting more reluctant to lend on flood-prone or cyclone-prone locations, it is reasonable to conclude that flood-prone properties will be facing significant downward pressure due to rising sea level and as such, to under-perform other residential property types into the future.” 

Dr Peng Yew Wong, RMIT

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Dr Trivess Moore is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University. His research focuses on the intersection between technical performance, social impact and policy in relation to how housing, households and the housing sector will transition to a low carbon future.   

Dr Peng Yew Wong is a senior lecturer in the School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University. His key research efforts centre on exploring the key determinants in the Australian and global residential and commercial property markets



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