Just Add Water
Within the last few years, increased FEMA regulations have drastically altered homes along the coast, with many needing to be raised to help prevent future flood damage. Live near the water and not sure if you need to lift your house? Here are some things you should know:
Q. What is a base flood elevation (BFE)?
A. The height set by FEMA that marks the anticipated level of floodwater. BFE is compared with the actual elevation of your house (the height of the first floor above ground) to determine your flood insurance rates.
Q. How can I find out the BFE for my property?
A. An architect with experience building on the coast can provide you with a full analysis of all regulations (both municipal and FEMA) that affect your property. You can find basic information (including your BFE and flood zone) by typing your address at FEMA’s Interactive Mapping Tool.
Q. What if my home doesn’t comply with the new BFE?
A. You will pay more in flood insurance. In a high-hazard zone, FEMA estimates a house that is four feet below the BFE in a high-hazard area could cost the owner roughly $30,000 a year for flood insurance; if the house is raised to match the BFE the premium drops to $7,000; and if raised two feet higher than the current BFE the premium drops to $3,500.
Q. If I choose not raise my house to comply with the BFE, will that affect what I receive from FEMA in the future?
A. No, FEMA will not penalize you, however your flood insurance premiums may be significantly higher than if your home complies with or exceeds the BFE (see example above).