Water Damage in Commercial Residential Properties
Water damage is one of the major causes of loss in commercial residential properties. Each year there are numerous insurance claims for damage to residential buildings and their contents caused by water. The problem has increased in recent years through our increasing use of water in our daily lives. In the average residential property water is used in a range of domestic appliances, including: washing machines, dishwashers, water coolers, refrigerators with chilled water dispensers, etc. Also, showers with multiple heads and power showers are now commonplace. Premises adapted for people with disabilities often include wet rooms. All of these facilities represent a potential water damage risk if a failure occurs. Many modern residential buildings are now constructed from lightweight materials which are unlikely to withstand severe exposure to water. Ornate building features and contents such as carpets, curtains and valuable paintings are particularly sensitive to water damage. Mold or corrosion can develop and they may easily be damaged beyond economical repair or salvage. The unusual rainfall pattern seen in recent years has caused flooding in areas historically considered to be at low risk, and both the frequency and the size of flood losses has increased significantly. Many other losses are caused by failure of the building’s internal water supply system (eg. burst pipes). Buildings which suffer regular problems of water damage, whether it be from external sources such as rainwater ingress or flooding, or internal leaks from pipework, etc, are less attractive to tenants. They are likely to be more difficult to let and may well command reduced rental income compared to other similar buildings which do not suffer the same problems. This information is intended to assist property owners by providing information on the various ways in which water damage can occur in commercial residential buildings, and to suggest ways in which the risk of an incident and the magnitude of any subsequent consequential loss may be prevented or reduced. Although the guidance is aimed specifically at commercial residential buildings, the general principles apply just as much to most types of other commercial properties.