Living in an area prone to flooding can be quite daunting. With the risk of a flood damaging or completely destroying your home, it is important to take steps to protect your property. One of the most important steps is to determine how high you need to build above the base flood elevation (BFE). In this article, we will discuss the BFE, how to determine it, and why it is important to build above it.
What is the Base Flood Elevation?
The BFE is the computed elevation to which floodwater is expected to rise during the base flood, which has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. This elevation is usually shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) as a line or number. The BFE is important because it is used to determine the minimum elevation that a building’s lowest floor, including the basement, must be built to in order to avoid flooding.
How to Determine the Base Flood Elevation
To determine the BFE for your property, you can consult your local government’s floodplain manager or use the FEMA Map Service Center to access FIRMs for your area. You can also hire a surveyor or engineer to perform an elevation certificate, which is a document that shows the property’s elevation in relation to the BFE.
Why Build Above the Base Flood Elevation?
Building above the BFE is important because it can help protect your property from flood damage. If your home is built at or below the BFE, it is more likely to flood during a base flood, causing significant damage to your property. Building above the BFE can also help lower your flood insurance premiums. The higher you build above the BFE, the lower your flood risk, and therefore the lower your insurance premiums.
How High Should You Build Above the Base Flood Elevation?
The minimum height you should build above the BFE varies depending on the flood zone you are in. For example, in an A zone, which is a high-risk flood zone, the lowest floor of your home must be built at or above the BFE. In a V zone, which is a coastal high-risk flood zone, the lowest floor of your home must be built at least one foot above the BFE. However, it is important to note that building higher than the minimum requirement can provide additional protection from flooding and potentially lower your insurance premiums even further.
Determining the BFE and building above it is an essential step in protecting your property from flood damage. By consulting your local government’s floodplain manager or hiring a surveyor or engineer to perform an elevation certificate, you can determine the BFE for your property and build to the appropriate height. Building above the BFE not only protects your property from flooding but can also help lower your flood insurance premiums.