Although the hurricane season is fast approaching, it’s not too late to prepare your home before a big storm heads your way. While there are different things you can do to hurricane-proof your property, lifting your home is the most efficient way to reduce its risk of flooding during hurricanes, tropical storms, or heavy rains. Since hurricanes and tropical storms are expected to occur more often in the future, elevating your home as soon as possible is critically important in order to protect your living space from flood-related damage and avoid all the hassles and costs associated.
Things to Consider Before Lifting Your Home
The first step to home lifting is to determine your home’s flood risk. For that, you could consult with a qualified professional, such as a licensed engineer/surveyor or the local floodplain manager, or visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center, which indicates the general flood risk for all the communities across the country. Although Houston and the surrounding areas are in a blue zone, which means they’re at an increased risk of flooding, it’s also important to establish the individual flood level for your property.
Because the flood level indicates the height at which floodwaters could rise during inclement weather, knowing the flood level for your home will allow you to elevate it high enough in order to prevent or minimize flood damage during hurricanes and storms. For instance, if your home is on a lower level than your neighbors’ homes, it might need to be elevated higher than the minimum Base Flood Elevation (BFE) recommended for the area. Because more water runoff tends to flow toward the homes on lower levels, lifting these homes to the BFE recommended might not be enough to prevent floodwaters from entering the living space.
Lifting Your Home High Enough to Protect It from Flood Damage
When it comes to home elevation, specialists advise homeowners to lift their homes high enough. But the question is: How high is high enough? In general, “high enough” means elevating the home above the minimum BFE recommended, which is at least 1 foot above the height of the 100-year flood level.
On the downside, the minimum elevation recommended fails to address catastrophic events, such as a rapid 12-inch rainfall that can fall during a hurricane. If you plan on elevating your Houston home, experts recommend elevating it over 5 feet above grade, though 6-foot elevations are also common in the area. If a home needs to be elevated more than 6 feet, it might be more practical to add a second story and convert the lower area of the house to a non-habitable space.
The good news is that any home can be lifted to the desired flood level, as long as it’s structurally sound. If there are any signs of structural problems, all the repairs must be made before attempting to elevate the home. Because you live in a flood-prone zone, the elevation specifications should be established by a licensed engineer or architect, based on the home design and its overall condition, as well as the type of soil, elevation technique, how high the home will be elevated, and how deep the foundation elements will extend in the ground. In addition, Houston is typically exposed to high winds as well as floodwaters during hurricanes and tropical storms. Therefore, the engineer or architect should also specify the type of straps and clips that must be used in order to keep all the elements of the home securely connected to the foundation.
When it comes to establishing the amount of elevation required for your home, considering a wide range of flood levels and possible outcomes of flooding, in the context of climate variability, any existent structural vulnerabilities, and costs associated, can help you make the right decision on how high you should elevate your home.
In addition to lifting your home, it’s important to determine whether water runoff flows toward or away from your home. The easiest way to do that is to observe the surface runoff during intense rainfall. This will help you better understand your home’s flood risk and identify the areas that might benefit from additional drainage, such as French drains, stormwater drainage wells, or weeping tile systems.
If you’re looking for a reliable house lifting contractor, you can count on Allied Foundation. Because our specialists have plenty of experience with Houston soil conditions and have lifted different types of homes, we’re able to elevate any home safely and efficiently using the unified jacking method. What’s more, we’re properly licensed and insured, so you can rest assured knowing that you’ll get the quality of work and protection you deserve!