Best Practices for Building a Home on a Floodplain

Published On: April 18, 20210 Comments on Best Practices for Building a Home on a FloodplainTags: Last Updated: February 7, 20243.7 min read

Do you have big plans to one day build your dream home? Have you recently acquired a tract of land near a body of water that you want to utilize, but you’re afraid of potentially hazardous flooding? If you want to build near the water, your dream home comes with a warning: you may be building on a floodplain.

Best Practices for Building a Home on a Floodplain

A floodplain is an area adjacent to a river, stream, or open waterway that is especially vulnerable to flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency defines a 100-year floodplain as an area that has a 1% chance of being inundated by a flood in a given year, and approximately 15 million Americans live in a FEMA-designated 100-year floodplain. If you’re trying to build a home in an area prone to flooding, there is no need to despair! Let’s explore helpful practices for anyone looking to build their dream home in a floodplain.

Limit Your Risk Of Flooding

When you build in a floodplain, you are accepting you may be vulnerable to flood damage. However, there are ways to minimize your risk while building and limit the damage of flooding in your home.

1.   Raise Home Above BFE

Your first option is to raise both your land and new home above the 100-year Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Many builders take measures to make sure their projects are above the BFE to protect them from both flooding and high insurance costs.

2.   Floodproofing

In this process, the foundation of the house is built up to slope downward, a technique that allows water to drain away from the structure instead of pooling around the foundation of the house and causing flood damage.



3.   Sheet Pile Installation

Sheet piles marry modern technology with the natural environment for efficient and cost-effective flood protection. Contact a construction company that uses the Giken Silent Piler, which is a machine that will quietly install a protective wall of sheet pile and reduce flood concerns with minimal disturbance to your neighbors or nature.

Invest With Intelligence + Consider The Cost

Building on a floodplain can be expensive! Between permits, flood insurance, flood prevention construction, and paying for potential future damage, the cost of living in one of these areas can really add up. Despite the cost, many who live in a floodplain say it’s well worth it to live by a peaceful body of water. However, be sure you’ve assessed your finances and are ready for a financial commitment before building on a floodplain.

Best Practices for Building a Home on a Floodplain - flood

Be A Good Neighbor + Follow The Regulations

If you’re building in an area prone to natural disasters from Mother Nature, your new community has likely adopted certain rules to protect you and your neighbors from flood damage. It’s important to follow these ordinances while you’re building, as floodplain regulations are set up for your benefit. When there is a flood, communities always have to eat some of the rebuilding costs (even if they receive government funds). These rules make sure everyone is using best standards and practices while building on a floodplain to minimize future community flood damage.

Protect Yourself + Invest In Proper Insurance

Did you know that most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t automatically cover damage from flooding? If you’re building a home on a floodplain, you will need to consider insurance costs and requirements. US law requires most federally backed lenders to investigate whether your house is on a floodplain before lending to you. There is a chance they may make flood insurance compulsory. While it may seem extreme, you will be glad in the long run you purchased flood insurance, whether or not it is mandatory in your area. The average premium for Florida flood insurance is $500 per year, a small price to pay for your safety and peace of mind.

Cooperate With FEMA

Each county has its own regulations for building as mentioned above, but the one thing almost all floodplain building has in common is coordination with FEMA. Some are surprised to discover this, but if you’re building in an area designated as a floodplain your construction team will likely have to cooperate with FEMA when it comes to clearing land, filling land, or creating a new structure. Take some time to learn about FEMA’s floodplain management guidelines and resources from their website to help foster a smooth and speedy building process.


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