FEMA rules apply to waterfront homes and those in the nearby areas wanting to stay above water--figuratively and financially. Be advised to find out what your flood zones are before undergoing any repairs or remodels.
FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency. It became part of the United States Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003; thereby, bringing a coordinated approach to national security from both natural and man-made disasters and emergencies.
The primary purpose of FEMA is to organize a response to a disaster
that has occurred in the United States which overwhelms the
resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in
which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally
request from the President that FEMA and the federal government respond
to the disaster.
As it relates to you, the homeowner: FEMA would prefer that you rebuild your home above the flood
level to reduce water damage during a major storm, as well as their financial outlay to cover those damages. However, they have set a threshold for remodel/repair costs in the flood
Current regulations allow you to remodel/repair your home up to 50% of your building's value. This does not include the value of your land.
Therefore, it is prudent for homeowners in beach and other waterfront communities throughout Florida to first determine
which flood zone they're in before any plans are drawn for reparations or remodels, because if you don't . . .
Let's say your project goes over the 50% threshold (easy to do when your work is substantial), you are then required to bring your house up to "code" per FEMA Rules which means
your whole house will have to be raised above flood level.
So, you now see why following the FEMA 50% Rule is very important for budgetary considerations and determining the scope of work for your home remodeling project.
As with most things in life, there is a safe bet and one that is more of hedging your bets, especially, when praying for the stars and planets to align perfectly. So, let's first look at the rainbow and unicorn method . . .
If your home remodel/repair project is small or of minor work, you can calculate your home's assessed value* by visiting your county appraiser's office or website. Even though the assessed value from the county is established for tax purposes, some building departments may be satisfied with this dollar value, some may not which is why a call to your building department is recommended.
And, now on to the safe bet method . . .
Whether your project is minor or substantial, it is recommended that you
obtain a property appraisal. Be sure when speaking with the appraiser
you request a building replacement appraisal. This
will not only give a higher value than the county's assessed value which is for taxes only but will increase your 50% threshold for more repairs/remodels that you want to do; it will also accurately satisfy FEMA Rules.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can see what flood zone your property is in by going directly to the FEMA Flood Maps.
WARNING: to navigate this map it is a bit clunky and cumbersome but worth the effort.
detailed instructions and pictures to guide you through the process,
visit our Flood Zones guide page. We'll see you on the other side :)