Any kind of flooding can be devastating. Your home and household goods will be extensively damaged and you may even be forced to leave your home for some time. You need to protect your home against flooding, which is where flood elevation comes in.
Base Flood Elevation (BFE) shows the anticipated level of flood waters in your area in case of a flood. It gives requirements on how to protect your structures against floods.
Flood-prone areas are categorized into flood zones. Understanding flood elevation requirements starts with knowing your flood zone.
So how do you figure out your area's flood zone? You'll need to consult the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). It shows the different flood zones, along with their BFE.
You can access FIRM online at floodsmart.gov or at the municipal council office in your area that is responsible for issuing construction permits. Your insurer or real estate agent can also help you get the map.
Here's how to interpret the map.
These are typically first-row beachfront properties. They lie below the BFE and are considered a Special Flood Hazard Area. If you live in this zone, you are required by law to have flood insurance and your home must be raised above the flood zone.
This is also a Special Flood Hazard Area, which means the risk of flooding is very high. It typically designates areas near a water body such as a river or a lake.
The same regulations as those of zone V apply. The only difference here is that the building does not need to be elevated on posts or columns.
Here, the risk of flooding is minimal. You are not required to have flood insurance.
Zone D designates areas where studies have not been conducted but where there is still a risk of flooding.
If you live in a flood-prone area, you are required by law to get flood insurance. When getting insurance against flooding, premiums are determined by the elevation of your home in relation to the BFE.
You will need a flood elevation certificate. This is a document that shows your building's elevation.
Find out from your municipal council office if there is any information on elevation requirements for your property. If not, you may need to hire the services of a qualified surveyor, civil engineer, or architect to help you figure out the requirements.
Your flood elevation will affect your flood insurance premiums. Your area's flood elevation will vary depending on your flood zone. If you are in a high or moderate risk zone, you'll need to obtain a flood elevation certificate.