Regardless of where your home is located, assessing the risk of flooding in your area allows you to better protect your property from the dangers and damage of potential flood events. While numerous cities are currently at risk for flooding and water damage across the country, certain zones are more likely to be affected by flood than others. Commonly referred to as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), high-risk flood areas have at least a 1% annual chance of flooding. A good way to figure out if you live in a SFHA is to check the FEMA flood maps, which shows the flood risk for each community.
If you live in a flood zone, the easiest way to avoid the nightmare of dealing with flood damage is to sell your home and move to a low-risk flood area. But what if relocation isn’t the best option for you and your family? Additionally, why would you sell your dream home and move to a completely new and unfamiliar place instead of opting for the solutions that could help you protect your home and your loved ones when a flood threatens your area?
Some small measures, such as improving your home’s drainage, keeping your gutters and storm drains clear of debris, installing a flood control system, and adding flood vents to the crawlspace in order to allow floodwater to enter and exit freely, can help you minimize and even eliminate your home’s risk of flooding. If you’re looking for a more reliable solution, lifting your home above the predicted Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is by far the best option to keep your living space habitable and your loved ones safe during a flood.
Home Elevation: The Best Strategy for Preventing Flood-Related Damage
Because the risk for flooding has increased significantly over the past few years due to global climate changes, more homeowners are considering home elevation as the only permanent solution for eliminating flood risk. Although lifting a Houston home several inches or feet above its current foundation and building a new foundation underneath sounds like a complicated and costly job, repairing or rebuilding a home after a flood is much more difficult, time consuming, and expensive.
After Houston and surrounding areas experienced 3 major floods between 2015 and 2017, it became obvious that every home affected by flood during that period of time as well as the homes in close proximity are at risk of flooding every year. Elevating all those homes is imperative in order to keep them safe from floodwaters in the future. In addition to protecting your loved ones and property, elevating your home to meet the local BFE is often the only way to qualify for a mortgage, obtain additional financial assistance for flood-related damage, and reduce flood insurance costs.
Home Elevation: How It’s Done
To elevate your home, the workers will first separate the frame from the foundation. Then, they’ll use a hydraulic lifting system to raise your home slowly and uniformly to the required or desired elevation level. If your home sits on a slab-on-grade foundation, it will be lifted together with the slab.
Once your home is lifted, the existing foundation is extended or a new foundation is built underneath. If this method isn’t appropriate for your home, the contractor can opt for a different method, which often involves removing the roof and building a second story OR extending the walls of your home and raising the floor to meet the latest NFIP elevation requirements.
To help you keep your living areas out of the way of floodwaters, the FEMA flood zone maps along with the City’s Floodplain Management Office will indicate the BFE recommended for your area and address. However, it’s essential to know that you can elevate your home higher than locally enforced elevation requirements, especially if the BFE recommended seems insufficient for your community or area.
In fact, to account for higher-than-expected flood levels, more and more communities are requiring that homes be built, rebuilt, or elevated at moderate- or high-risk BFE levels, even if they’re located in low-risk flood zones. Additionally, specialists recommend lifting buildings at least 3 feet above the BFE in order to prevent potential damage due to higher-than-predicted flood levels. Besides increasing protection for your home, lifting your home higher could result in lower flood insurance premiums.
When lifting your home above the BFE, it’s essential to also consider raising your utilities along with your water heater, air conditioner, furnace, and electrical panel in order to protect them from flooding. As well, installing check valves in sewer traps will prevent floodwater from backing up into your home through the drains.
If you’re one of the homeowners who experience water damage after every major storm, the best thing you can do is raise your home high enough to avoid floodwater. At Allied Foundation, our specialists are able to elevate your home as high as necessary to meet or even exceed the federal, state, and local requirements. For more information about the home lifting process or to discuss your home elevation project in more detail, contact us today!