Residential Flooding

Residential flooding makes up the lion’s share of what we call backyard jobs in the civil engineering business. Most engineering firms are not setup to do backyard jobs. Their fees are simply too expensive for what the client can afford to pay.

Melton Engineering is a small firm and with a nonprofit philosophy. Our president has 30 years of experience with civil engineering in Austin. He specializes in many things with hydrology (flooding) and environmental issues being a primary focus.

Standard flood prevention engineering does not take our observed increasing rainfall into consideration and the way we get our rainfall has likely changed. Rain in general appears to be coming less frequently, but with greater intensity when it does rain. This leads to more flooding than we are accustomed to.

A good analogy is that changes we are seeing are like having 100-year storms every few years. This is nowhere near accurate technically, but for this discussion it will do. We don’t know exactly how much or how much more intensely flooding has increased in the Central Texas Region—that research has yet to be performed.  But we do know from research out of Duke, the University of Texas and the Georgia Institute of Technology, that over the last 30 years both droughts and floods have doubled in the U.S. Southeast. (Li 2010, Changes to the North Atlantic Subtropical High and Its Role in the Intensification of Summer Rainfall Variability in the Southeastern United States, Journal of Climate, October 2010. Link)

Another analogy comes from work on heat extremes in Europe by the United Kingdom’s National Meteorological Service that shows that after their 2003 heat wave (where the death toll exceeded 70,000), extreme heat events that would have normally occurred twice a century are now occurring twice a decade and are projected to occur every other year as soon as 2030. (Christidis et al., Dramatically increasing chance of extremely hot summers since the 2003 European Heat Wave, Nature Climate Change, December 8, 2014. Link)

And still another, work from NASA and Columbia University says that in North America and specifically in Texas, heat extremes have already increased 10 to 100 times. (Hansen, Sato, Ruedy, Perception of Climate Change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS), August 2012. Link)

In Central Texas, extreme rainfall events seem to have likely increased too. The National Climate Assessment  produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (started under President Reagan) says that in Central Texas, the most extreme one percent of rainfall events have increased by 16 percent.

This all makes a difference and if you are reading these pages, you have probably noticed. Now you have a flooding problem and need an affordable engineer. Melton Engineering Services Austin can help.

Residential Flooding Rates

Important Note: These rates are for single family residential homeowners (or renters), rental property owners, small business owners, nonprofits or community, homeowner and citizen associations. Please call to discuss fees for other purposes.

Residential Flooding Category One: Free $$$ — Call and talk. We spend a lot of time on the phone with neighbors from all over with all sorts of development problems, not just flooding. Thirty years of land development engineering experience builds a lot of expertise. This is expertise that is too valuable to not share with those in need who do not have the resources to acquire these services in traditional ways. Since Melton Engineering was founded in 2001, we have helped individual’s and neighborhood associations with their civil engineering challenges, for reduced rates or even gratis. It could be that your problem can even be solved over the phone. If so, congratulations, there are lots of folks out there like you and we are glad to be of service.

Residential Flooding Category Two: $500 – Most residential flooding issues will fall into this category. What usually happens with these projects is first, a phone call or two to get background and see if there is any way that we can solve your problem from afar for free. If not, we will make a house call and evaluate.

It’s likely that we will stay for several hours, ask lots of questions, walk around a lot, do a little surveying and lot of sketching and measuring, and do a fair amount of looking around the neighborhood immediately uphill from where the flooding took place. We may even talk to neighbors (if appropriate and at the discretion of the client).

Once we thoroughly gather our data we will return to our engineering studio and look at some private neighborhood rain gauges on Wunderground’s PWS Network (Private Weather System). We will take that information and compare it standard engineering hydrologic design criteria. Then we will sketch out a few drainage pipes and grate drains, recommend some grading or a small diversion berm or swale, or any number of other solutions, and then draw up a simple sketch and write up a thorough report.

Note: we do not use the standard black corrugated 4-inch landscape drainage piping. These pipes are hardly adequate for drainage design in our old climate. We use a minimum of  6″ and 8” pipes carrying four and eight times more water than a single 4-inch pipe.

Residential Flooding Category Three 3: $1,000 — Some projects are a bit more challenging. Have you or a previous owner already spent good money installing a drainage system and it failed? Are neighbors involved? Have you lived in the same place forever and never been flooded? Thinking of a lawsuit?

This category often requires an additional site visit, more extensive surveying, and additional calculations or a complicated drainage solution. Along with a report, your sketch will be quite a bit more detailed and significant work will be required for installation.

Category Four: $1,500 and up – For huge homes, bigger projects, massive flooding, lawsuits, expert testimony, permit work with the City, County, Army Corp of Engineers, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, red tag work, commercial work. Even with this advanced category, we can perform affordable engineering services because we are an efficient small firm.