What Is The Cost To Raise A House Above The Flood Zone?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Depending on where you live, your house could very well be at risk for floods. It is a heavy thing to consider as a homeowner or builder, but sometimes, your house’s elevation leaves it open to floods. Because of that, many builder-owners wonder just how much it costs to raise a house above the flood zone.

The average cost to raise a house above the flood zone is $32,500, plus about $3,750 for permits. To raise a house with pilings costs about $20,000 to $80,000, while replacing the foundation is $20,000 to $100,000. Excavation can cost $3,100, plus $6 per square foot to clear water and debris before you can raise the house.

The ABFE standards as laid out by FEMA vary depending on where you are located. FEMA provides a map indicating the ABFE, and if you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area, they may help pay for your house to be raised.

Let’s get into the costs of raising your house above the flood zone.

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What is a Flood Zone?

Established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a flood zone is a geographical area that has been defined according to the risk of flooding. FEMA has labelled numerous flood zones including undetermined risk areas, high-risk areas, and moderate- to low-risk areas. These designations are divided into two categories:

  • Special Food Hazard Areas (SFHAs): According to FEMA, this category includes zones that start with the letter A or V and have at least a one in four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. They are considered higher-risk areas.
  • Non-SFHAs: These are moderate- to low-risk areas displaced on flood maps as zones starting with either B, C, or X. FEMA states that these areas get one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding.

If you are a prospective buyer, it’s easy to determine if a property is located in a flood zone. Simply ask your real estate agent if the home you are inquiring about is in a designated flood zone, what the zone is, and what the designation means. You can also visit FEMA’s website and search with the address.

What is ABFE?

Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE), refers to the standard elevation that a community must adhere to for all structures. If you live in a flood zone or an area that is affected by hurricanes, ABFE is even more important to consider. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, determines the appropriate flood elevation height based on different zones.

Places with high flood risks, such as Florida and Louisiana, have a higher Flood Protection Elevation than say, Nebraska. There is no across the board height that a house needs to be raised above a flood zone. However, most high-risk flood zones require that a house be elevated above the 100-year flood mark.

How Much Does it Cost to Raise a House Above Flood Zone?

It can cost between $10,000 and $50,000 to raise a house above the flood zone. However, it is rare for it to cost less than $20,000 to raise a house above a flood zone in high-risk areas. There is a huge spread in the cost of raising a house, but it is based on many factors, such as:

  • Permits
  • Size of the house/foundation
  • Condition of the house‚Äôs structure
  • Excavations/landscaping
  • Location

Permits are required tor raise a house above the flood zone and can cost roughly $3,500-$4,000 or more. A significant amount of work may need to be done to the old foundation before it is safe to raise your house. It can cost $2,000-$4,000 in repairs to foundation and structure before even raising the house, in some cases.

No matter what, some level of excavations are required when raising a house. Generally, excavations cost as much as $1,200-$5,000 due mostly to labor. Excavations can take 2-4 days in some cases, and with several workers at a rate of $15-$25 an hour, it adds up fast.

How Location Affects Cost of Raising a House Above Flood Zone

Of course, some cities, towns, and states are more at risk of floods than others. Combine that with differences in cost of living and building costs, and the cost of raising a house varies widely. The following chart displays how the cost of raising a house above the flood zone depends largely on where you are located.

LocationCost to Raise House Above Flood Zone
New Orleans, LA$40,000-$60,000
Atlantic City, NJ$12,000-$30,000
St. Louis, MO$10,000-$12,000
Seattle, WA$40,000-$200,000

Besides specific cities or states having elevated flood risks, there are specific zones within certain cities. New Orleans, for example, has 2 flood zones with different Flood Protection Elevations levels. To find your exact Flood Protection Elevation Levels, refer to FEMA’s maps that denote specific area’s different flood zone levels.

Why Does My House Need to be Raised Above Flood Zone?

If your house sits at or below the flood zone, it needs to be raised for safety reasons. Not only is your house’s structure in danger when below the flood zone, but so are you. Houses that are below flood zones in affected areas can take on severe damage and even become unsuitable for dwelling.

Cleaning up the water in your house alone costs $4-$8 per sq. ft. However, that is nothing compared to the $10,000 or more it costs to repair severe flood damage. Not to mention, extreme cases of flooding can leave you without a home entirely.

Raising your house above the flood zone can cause your flood insurance to drop in price.

Is It Hard to Sell a House That is In a Flood Zone?

It can be harder to sell a house in a flood zone, for a few reasons. First and foremost, many house-hunters are wary of the exorbitant cost of flood insurance. Cities with a high flood risk, like New Orleans, carry an over $600 yearly premium for flood insurance.

Of course, if you live in a flood zone, flood insurance is necessary. Floods can level houses, and while flood insurance is quite costly, that premium can be lowered. In fact, by raising your house above a flood zone, it will lower the cost of your flood insurance.

Not only will you benefit from the decrease in your flood insurance premium, but it will help you sell it later on.

How Much Can You Save on Premiums By Raising House?

If you raise your house above the flood zone, you can save up to 30%-60% on flood insurance premiums. The higher you raise your house above the flood zone, the more money you save on flood insurance premiums. Raising your house 3-4 ft. above the flood zone can save you 20%-30% on your insurance premium.

However, raising your house a full 5-6 ft. can knock as much as 60% off of your flood insurance premiums. If you raise your house a full 6 ft., you have the potential to save up to $2,000 in 4-5 years just on insurance premiums alone.

Raising House Above Flood Zone Costs

Raising a house above a flood zone is quite a labor-intensive project. As such, labor, and equipment account for a large portion of the cost of raising a house. There are several people, from equipment operators and architects, to structural engineers and electricians all at work with different hourly rates.

ExpensesCost
Foundation Replacement$7,000-$150,000
Helical Pier Replacement (if necessary)$8,000-$12,000
Landscaping$1,000-$4,000
Excavations$1,200-$5,000
Total Labor$5,000-$10,000
Permit$3,500-$4,000

Not all of the above costs may be applicable to your own house. However, expenses such as labor, excavations, and foundation replacement are always necessary. Total landscaping costs vary based on the yard, tree removal, and how the landscaping was configured around the house.

How High Above Flood Zone Should You Raise a House?

You should raise your house at least 3-4 ft. above the flood zone. That is recommended due to the fact that flood zones change, and over time, the ABFE where you are located may change. Giving yourself that extra few feet above the flood zone means that you won’t have to raise your house again if and when a record-breaking flood or hurricane hits.

One thing worth considering is raising your house by a full 14 ft. That may seem like a drastic increase, but 14 ft. equates to 1 story, meaning that you have a full story of space beneath your house for storage. Otherwise, so long as you raise your house 3-6 ft. above the flood zone, you shouldn’t have to worry about doing it again in your lifetime.

Will FEMA Help Pay For Raising House?

Yes, FEMA can help pay for your raising your house above the flood zone, but with stipulations. For example, you must be located in a Special Flood Hazard Area as indicated by FEMA. As long as you meet that criteria and are covered by a Nation Flood Insurance Policy, FEMA can help by covering up to $30,000 of the cost of raising your house.

However, that is only in the case that your house was damaged heavily by flooding.

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What Did We Learn?

It costs $10,000-$50,000 or more to raise your house above the flood zone. Labor and foundation repair/transport make up a majority of the cost of raising your house. FEMA provides maps indicating the Advisory Base Flood Elevation based on community.

If you want to raise your house above the flood zone, it can save you 30%-60% on flood insurance and can save your home from damage.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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