Rise above the BFE

Building higher could keep property from floodwater damage and may help save on certain flood insurance premiums. Elevating an existing property is also possible, even for slab foundations.

Depending on the type of foundation and other factors, this could be out of the price range for many homeowners. However, it could make a property more marketable.

Qualifying homeowners whose homes had repeatedly flooded were approved for grant monies after Hurricane Rita and Ike that made elevation possible.

Prices for elevating houses on piers can be more affordable than elevating houses on a foundation, according to Paul Kinser, PDK/EHL House Leveling. “The price to lift a house on piers can begin at around $1,500 and go to around $40,000,” Kinser said. “The degree of difficulty and other factors determine the cost.”

Torrential rains on Thursday, May 2, in the Lake Area, meant a rise in phone calls to the company. Homeowners wanted to find out about elevating their homes, one of the most common retrofitting methods for mitigating flood damage.

Elevating a house above the base flood elevation can involve lifting the home and building a new foundation, extending the existing foundation below or leaving the home in place and either building a new elevated floor system within the home or adding a new upper story and converting the ground level to a compliant enclosure.

Blaise St. Blanc, DeVillier House Movers and Leveling, said customers are surprised to find out that homes on slabs can be raised. These projects don’t happen overnight.

Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are shown on FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures.

In Calcasieu Parish, new houses are built one foot above the FEMA base flood elevation, the center line of the nearest public road adjacent or across from the proposed development location; or nearest upstream or downstream sewer manhole. (Some parishes or municipalities may require only 6 inches above the base flood elevation; others, 2 feet. This is called free boarding.

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