As you can see on this flood zone map, this particular plot may have some flood zone hazard associated with it, as it's designated AE. As you read through the different codes and zones within your map area, consult FEMA's glossary of terms if you need more information.
There are a number of different flooding zone classifications that categorize areas based on the likelihood of storms causing flooding in that particular area. Zones B, X, and C are considered low risk, whereas A or V zones are classified as high risk. V zones are coastal areas. The higher risk zones are classified as such because there is a 1% probability of flooding every year.
One of the more important terms you need to understand is Base Flood Elevation (BFE). This is a flood elevation, calculated by FEMA, to which floodwaters can be anticipated to rise during a flood event. This is important because it will dictate the flood-proofing of your structure and the elevation of your building.
Let's take an A flood zone as an example. This is considered a high-risk flood zone by FEMA and is typical of properties close to rising bodies of water. If you have a property on any type of A flood zone (there are many different A categories), then the following requirements apply to you:
- The lowest-floor elevation must be equal to or higher than the BFE.
- Anything enclosed in a structure below the BFE cannot be a living space.
- HVAC, electrical, and plumbing services must be at or above the BFE.
Next, you will need to find your local jurisdiction's guidelines and rules on flood zones. The municipality you reside in will have its own flood plain information and guidelines that you will need to digest. For instance, in Pinellas County, Florida, there are specific guidelines concerning the elevation certificate you need to obtain prior to building in any flood zone.
You can also consult tax and title records through your local municipality, which typically contains flood zone details of each property. Further, you can consult a local insurance broker to get a better understanding of your flood event risks and the specific requirements for that property.
Consider flood insurance
The federal government offers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that subsidizes flood insurance policy premiums for a property owner. The average annual NFIP premium is $700, but this can vary significantly depending on the type of flood plain you reside in. Keep in mind that if you are in a high-risk flood zone, flood zone insurance is mandatory.
The power of insurance is always to reduce risk and cover liability. Flood zone insurance is no different for flood loss. If you have any risk of flood damage, most home insurance policies do not cover this, so you should consider a separate policy, such as the NFIP.
Does being in a flood zone affect a home's price?
Yes, it can. There are many factors to take into consideration, but the higher your flood zone risk, the less you can do with the property and the higher your insurance premiums. There are dozens of factors that contribute to a valuation of a property, and if you live in a high flood-risk zone, you could see downward pressure on home prices.