Building in the Floodplain


If you’re thinking about building a townhouse, townhome, single family home, apartment complex, duplex or really any other dwelling, in Houston then you probably know you need to know a lot about building in the floodplain. It can be an overwhelming task to even determine if you home or lot is located in the floodplain because they change. This article will help you navigate the ups and downs and ins and outs of building in the floodplain.

Determining if Your Home or Plot is in the Floodplain


In order to even determine if your next home is about to be built in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) you can go to the FEMA website and order copies of the effective maps through their Flood Map Service Center, or visit your zoning office which may have copies of the flood maps on hand. If your community participates in the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), you can find maps directly online from the NFIP website.


Acquiring Permits Before Construction Begins


Starting construction in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is different than construction outside of the floodplain. Before the construction process is even started, you need to apply for a special permit to ensure that you are complying with the additional regulations that go hand in hand with building in the flood plain.


Additional regulations involved in SFHA construction can include the following;


You must ensure that construction materials and the building methods used when constructing your new home minimize future flood damage. In order to acquire your permits allowing you to build in the floodplain you must provide documentation which substantiates your building materials.


When building your home, you must build the lowest floor of the structure a foot above the expected depth of a 100 year flood. The lowest flood floor elevation depends on the foundation type.


An elevation certificate will need to be completed by a registered engineer, architect or surveyor before you can even turn on the electricity in your home.


Permit requirements do differ from state to state. So in order to learn all of the requirements of your specific area, be sure to communicate with your state coordinating agency to find out what you need to do in order to qualify for the permits you need. You can visit the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) website to search for your state coordinating agency.


In order to make the process go as quickly as possible, it can be in your best interest to hire a permitting service. Not only will they help you to acquire your permit as quickly as possible, they will also guide you through the rest of the process by offering a consultation and referring you to an engineer, architect or surveyor if needed.


Imperial Permit Services LLC is a great permitting service that is known for their great customer service. They’ll help you through the permitting process so that you can start building your home as quickly as possible.




Acquiring all of these permits and documentation may seem like quite the hassle, but in return the federal government makes flood insurance coverage available for buildings within the community. Although you are building with the floodplain in mind, flooding could still be a problem, and as such having flood insurance could save you thousands in out of pocket costs were your home to be damaged in a flood.


If you have a federally backed mortgage on a home located in the SFHA you will be required to purchase flood insurance in order to secure your loan.






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