House raising isn’t always a glamourous design project, but it can be crucial for a homeowner. In this case, we were approached by a homeowner within a few hundred feet of the Delaware Bay. This home was several feet below the projected 100 year flood elevation. With a house this far below the expected water, they had a very large flood insurance bill. In fact, this project is projected to pay for itself within 5-7 years through the insurance savings.
The FEMA National Flood Insurance Program is a specific program to protect houses from flood. Flood protection is excluded from standard home insurance products. Most houses within a 100 year flood plain (defined as having about a 1% chance of flooding every year) are required to carry flood insurance by their mortgage holder. This program has been hit hard by the recent uptick in storms and property damage. This program has been found to be underfunded for years. For this reason, the rates have been rising over the last few years. These increases are especially harsh for houses that do not comply with flood resistant construction standards published by FEMA. The most common problem is that the living space is below the expected flood water level. This is the exactly the sort of problem this project fixes.
House Raising Details
The house raising itself was relatively simple using details that we’ve used for several of these sorts of projects. There were two interesting challenges to this specific project. This house had a masonry wood burning fireplace that the client wanted to keep. We had to determine how to support the masonry to raise it and then provide a new masonry support and footing underneath. The client also wanted to make sure we maximized his flexibility beneath the house for parking. Our team achieved this by cantilevering the new decks and porches included as part of this project so we could minimize the supports in the lower levels.
The end result of this project is that this house is on a stronger foundation. This makes it more storm resistant and more stable. It’s also less vulnerable to flood which can ruin an investment in a property. We also managed to include some additional outdoor living space and parking on the rather small lot. And the best part is, the client paid for the entire project with the savings on their insurance over time.