Every week we get phone calls about building a new home or renovating existing homes here on Cape Cod. More often than not, we discover that many of these project sites are located within documented FEMA Flood zones. Why is this important?
Any construction within a FEMA A, AE, AO or V flood zones require special design and construction considerations that can either limit or dramatically change a homeowners' concept what their new home or renovated home may look like.
If you want to know if your home is in a FEMA Flood Zone - Click Here to enter your address and find out!
Here's a great diagram from FEMA that explains the impacts of different flood zone designations on home construction:
Any properties located within these zones (with the exception of the "X" zone) must be designed and built to flood resistant construction standards which generally means that any new home or addition in these areas must be raised up above the flood plain, and foundation areas must be designed to allow flood waters to pass through the foundation without damage.
Renovations and additions are especially tricky as the size (monetary value) of the project may require the entire existing structure to be raised up above the flood plain before the renovation or addition work can begin. The requirement to raise the home up is determined by the "Substantial Improvement" regulation defined below:
Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage," regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:
- Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions or
- Any alterations of a "historic structure," provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a "historic structure."
Floodplain management requirements for new construction apply to substantial improvements. Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage does not apply to substantial improvements unless a structure is substantially damaged due to flooding.
Here's a good example of a home after a substantial improvement in a flood zone: