DEFINING V FLOOD ZONES
Before we get technical, what does V-Zone mean, anyway? If your property lands within a V-Zone, as designated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), it means there is a 1% chance each year of severe flooding. The V-Zones are typically in the closest proximity to the coast and are exposed to the highest wave action (3 feet or higher!).
HOW DOES THIS EFFECT HOW I BUILD OR RENOVATE?
Building and renovating in a V-zone follows most of the same guidelines as A-Zones; the 50% rule, look back period, and basement dilemma all still apply just as we learned they did in A-zones. However, the zones differ in their construction methods.
Lying within a V-Zone is considered the most “at-risk” zone, therefore, the construction must reflect this. In A-Zones, we learned that our buildings must become passive with the use of floods vents. In a V-Zone, because of the more severe waves and higher water levels, the buildings in this zone must be lifted out of the ground using concrete piers. This leaves a completely unobstructed area below the BFE (base flood elevation) to allow water to flow freely.
These piers are the only structures allowed below the BFE. Generators, AC condensers and the like, must be relocated above the BFE. It’s our job to find creative ways and places to get these systems off the ground.
If you are interested in enclosing the piers that are now holding up your house, there are some exceptions that allow you to leave walls beneath the BFE. The exception is the way it is constructed. This is where the term “break-away” comes in. A “break-away wall” is allowed, but must be built so when the storm comes and floods your property, the walls are easily separated from the building and can float away with the water.
As always, we recommend hiring and working with local professionals. Knowledgeable people in this field are able to help you better understand all the options you have, even before you purchase a property!
Have an immediate challenge and could use some consulting? Give us a call!