Homes in a Flood Zone

Most residents of Atlanta had probably never considered flooding to be a serious concern until September of 2009. That was when the threat became very real. Unfortunately, Atlanta residents got to experience what happens when a 500 year flood event comes to town. 

So, you may be wondering… “Is my house in a Flood Zone?

When it comes to a major flood event and houses that fall within the 100 year flood zone, the ones that do not get destroyed have a couple of options. Restoration may be an option if the damage is not widespread. However, local governments have FEMA guidelines when it comes to how much money they will allow a homeowner to put back into a home that could flood again.  If the projected restoration costs exceed these guidelines, the house will have to be raised up and reconstructed  so that the lowest finished level is at least 3 ft above the 100 year flood elevation for that area.  


Yes, the whole house!

House Lifting 2

Once the structure has been lifted up, the homes are set back down on new foundations with louvered vents to allow for any future flooding. This “tidewater” style of construction is found all the time at the beach. People in Atlanta just had to figure out how to make it blend in here. Below are some great examples of how tasteful architecture can pull it all together:

Raised in a Flood Zone

Raised in a Flood Zone

Raised in a Flood Zone

Raised in a Flood Zone

Raised in a Flood Zone

Raised in a Flood Zone

Is the House in a Flood Zone?

One question that should be on your mind when Buying a home is “Is the house in a flood zone?”  My guess is that if you own a house that is in (or even very close to) a flood zone, your insurance company and/or mortgage company will have broached this subject with you already.  

Flood plain manhole

If you are currently looking at houses, you need to be aware of the clues that can signal you are near a flood plain.  One has to do with sewer manholes.  Regulations say that the top of the metal lid of a sewer manhole has to be at or above the 100 year flood elevation.  So if you see something like the photo on the right, you should take note.  Other clues are bamboo, bridges, flat grassy meadows, streams and creeks and horse farms (great uses for flood plain).

Here is THE search tool to search by address to see if you are in one of those FEMA shaded areas called the 100 year flood zone.Flood Zone

If you find that the house is in a flood zone, it is not the end of the world but there are issues to be considered. Trusted real estate advice and coaching definitely come into play if you still want to proceed.  As a former registered Professional Civil Engineer, I have more experience that most real estate agents when it comes to flood zone issues and how they affect the use of real estate.  Please let us know if you ever have any questions.

Curious about what houses look like that have been reconstructed after a flood?  Check out some photos at our blog post Floods and Homes in a Flood Zone.