Owning Land on a Floodplain

By Courtney Hageman

A waterfront property is often the most highly sought after type of property in the US. Whether the property is near a lake, river or ocean, it beckons with beauty and many leisure activities, such as fishing or swimming. Unfortunately, like any other property, waterfront property is susceptible to natural disasters, specifically flooding. The US is no stranger to the damage that unforeseen flooding can cause.

Flooding3x2Historically speaking, many thriving cities and towns in the US were initially built around rivers and grew outwards from there. At the time, and even in present day, rivers served as an important means to life, progress, and comfort.  They ensure a fresh water source, an alternative mode for transportation and trade, and the surrounding  land is fertile for growing crops.  Likewise, land near rivers and large streams is often flat, ideal for building.

With flooding increasing due to extreme weather patterns in the winter, spring and summer months, people are more fearful of investing in land on or near floodplains.  Luckily, because of the many benefits that living near a river has, the US government is starting to focus on ways to protect those who own property on floodplains.

Under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, property owners are able to purchase insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program to help protect their properties in the event of a flood.

Recently, new guidelines have been put into place in order to help avoid or reduce the impact of floods. For example, new homebuilders might be asked to build the foundation of a house at least two feet above ground.  The restrictions of the construction of basements might also be put into place depending on the location of the property.

Other tips that are given to those building new homes near floodplains include avoiding the use of timber as much as possible, as it is easily damaged in long periods of standing water. Instead, it is suggested to build a home of bricks. Either handmade or engineered bricks will work; however, engineered brick is the closest to waterproof material that you will find.

For more information check out FEMA’s Building Code Resources.

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