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Florida Building Codes Effected by Rising Seas

Florida Building Codes Effected by Rising Seas

According to an article in the Miami Herald and the Florida Association of realtors. The expectation of rising tides and flood waters in the future are leading reevaluation of building base elevation for Florida Building Codes. Community planers see the possibility of high water an increasing threat. In the view of many, rising flood waters and surge from hurricanes will only increase in Florida. This is enforced by a Florida International University (FIU) study commissioned by the Florida Building Commission.
“The building code doesn’t currently take sea level rise into account,” said Tiffany Troxler, associate director of science for the FIU Sea Rise Solutions Center and co-author of the report. “One recommendation was simply to try to account for that uncertainty that we cannot currently account for, including sea level rise, to add one foot to the elevations that are already recommended.”
The FIU report suggests that elevating buildings above the expected flood surge level would have the most impact and result in savings for FEMA flood insurance premiums. It is expected that new Florida Building Codes will recommend a rise from the current codes by at least two feet.
It is a good idea to buy flood insurance in all parts of Florida. An example of this is Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. More than 80% of homes flooded by the storm weren’t in FEMA flood zones, so they weren’t required to have insurance or elevate their homes very far off the ground.
Many homes in Florida are built on a concrete slab on grade. Adding freeboard, that is height above the FEMA base flood elevation, will add to the cost of building. Home builders have fought this rule change. This can add almost $5,000 to $10,000 to the cost of a 2,000 s/f home by adding dirt to raise the slab. Using concrete block piers can add $900 to the cost. However, when a home is raised, each foot of higher base elevation will result in lowered flood insurance premiums. A discount in these premiums may result in a net saving over time.
Florida Building Codes article

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