Adding fill around one side of the house to raise LAG
My name is Doug and my wife and I bought a house in a flood zone AE although there has never been any flood on the area. House never had any water issue. However there is a small creek not far from the house across the street behind some of our neighbors house down on a slope. We knew about the insurance which is 2k per year but what's stressing us the most is the whole 50% rule on renovations. We had a CE done and it showed that our LAG is about 8'' below the BFE. We are literally freaking out as to what we should do. We have been searching online for people that have added fill on those low areas to raise the LAG to meet the BFE which is a very small area. Thing is we dont know whats involved in the process. We have been told that the town is a bit restrictive when it comes to flood zones. Any feedback from you knowledgeable folks would help us tremendously.
Doug and Kelly
Step number one would be to permanently fill and seal the basement and move that machinery to be level with the main floor or higher. Then, re-landscape your entire yard to be a tad bit higher than BFE for the first 20 feet out from all sides of the perimeter of the house. Re-sod. Wait two years. Have a new insurance company contract with a different surveyor to do an EC while you are out of town.
P.S. You didn't hear this from me.
You should be the only one the surveyor provided with copies of the EC.
I prepared an EC for a fellow in Zone A. Frame dwelling on a rubble masonry cellar about 5.5' deep. Furnace & water heater in the cellar. In determining the BFE from the FIS and then measuring the various elevations around/in the structure, it happened that the LAG was a solid 0.10 feet above the BFE.
So, I submitted a LOMA request to FEMA and it was granted, coming back that FEMA had determined that the BFE was actually 0.2 below the LAG, so my client got the LOMA. Furnace & water heater 5+ feet below BFE.
What are you going to do about the basement windows?
Sorry for the alphabet soup.
If you haven't already, take a look at FEMA P-758 (2010) "Substantial Improvement/ Substantial Damage Desk Reference".
This is probably what your local Floodplain Administrators are going by.
Based on the info I've seen, I would raise the LAG with fill, and go for the LOMR-F. I am not, however, there. It seems that the LOCAL surveyor who's helped you so far should be the guy advising you now. Good luck!
Doug, I have been out of active practice for a dozen years, but I believe the process you need to go through is called a CLOMR-F. The letters stand for Conditional Letter of Map Revision based on Fill.
The "Conditional" part means that you submit a site plan showing the proposed re-grading. Local officials review it, and the application then goes to FEMA. If they approve it, you are in effect pre-approved for a LOMR-F once the re-grading has been completed in accordance with the plan. The LOMR-F takes your property, or at least the part of it your house is on, out of the regulatory flood zone.
I remember seeing a site plan for a CLOMR-F. It was prepared by engineers from the firm I worked for. There were two elements. The first was placing fill to raise the LAG. The second was creating a hollow area to provide extra space for flood water. That was required because the fill occupied some of the volume that previously existed next to the building. You have to leave the same amount of volume below the BFE as there was when you started. Otherwise some of the flood water could be pushed onto other properties.
So you might end up with a low area on your property, something like a sunken garden. The cut-out area could be landscaped, and you'd still come out ahead because you'd no longer have to pay $2K a year for flood insurance and you wouldn't be subject to the 50% rule. You could still get flood insurance--I would carry it under the circumstances--but it wouldn't be mandatory and would probably cost more like $500 a year.
You need to work with someone who knows how to prepare a grading plan for a CLOMR-F and is familiar with the regulatory process. That might mean an engineer rather than a surveyor, although survey work would still be needed.
I'm not saying I know for sure but what you describe may be a remediation if the structure is within a floodway as opposed to just being in a floodplain.
Dave, you raise an interesting point. I checked on the FEMA site, and it looks as though the requirements for compensatory storage may be set by local regulations rather than nationwide policies--
Thanks for the link John.