Building in a Flood Zone, Part I

While our latest project continues to unfold before our eyes, we thought we'd write a post on 'building in a flood zone.' There are a lot of misconceptions out there and while we aren't out to set all of them straight, we thought we'd share what we've found out and know to this point, especially for others that might be in a flood zone and curious to know what it takes. 

One question you might ask is, 'how do I know if I'm in a flood zone?' That's the right question to be asking! Are you paying for flood insurance? Were you informed by the real estate agent when you purchased the property? Another way to find out is by going to the local jurisdiction's building/planning department. The public works department is most likely the team enforcing the regulations (along with FEMA) but the city's records on your property will definitely give you a confirmation as to whether or not you're in a flood zone, and what the specific flood zone designation is. 

For our project, we're in flood zone AE10.5. What the heck does that mean? It's really the 10.5 part that is key. In the worst case 100 year flood, the water could rise to +10.5' above sea level. Other possible flood zone designations are A, and X. This being the case, the finished floor of the house has to be at or above (we recommend the latter for obvious reasons) the elevation mark, in our case, +10.5'. In our project, we're elevating finished floor all the way up to +11.0'. Keep in mind that the more you keep the framing and structure out of the flood plane, the less P.T. (pressure treated) lumber you have to use. 

In our next blog entry, we'll go into further detail about building materials and how to stay out of the flood plane.