How To Remodel & Follow FEMA Guidelines

Author: James Adkins
Table of Contents

If you live in Florida, you’re no stranger to hurricane season. Unfortunately, your home can be damaged from flooding caused by storm surges, hurricane-force winds, and other storm elements. If your home is damaged during a storm, you’re likely looking to remodel or rebuild. FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has specific rules and guidelines in place for homes that are being remodeled after the damage has been done. 

One of FEMA’s jobs is to organize a response to disasters in the United States, which can of course include damage caused by hurricanes and storms. One of FEMA’s rules for remodeling or rebuilding a home is the Substantial Damage Rule, also called the “50% Rule,” required by the National Flood Insurance Program. Essentially, this rule is actually a set of guidelines for structures built before December 31, 1974. These guidelines apply to waterfront homes whose lowest floor sits below the 100-year flood elevation line.  

In simple terms, the guidelines state that if the cost of improvements or the cost to repair the damage exceeds 50% of the market value of the building, it must be brought up to current floodplain management standards. So an existing building that has sustained damage costing more than 50% of its value must meet the requirements for new construction after being repaired. This can often mean that a home needs to be elevated to or above that 100-year flood elevation line.  

This probably raises questions for you, one being, “how do I know what the 50% threshold is for my home? Who determines that?” You need to get an appraisal on your home, particularly a building replacement appraisal by your county’s appraiser. You can use this number to determine what 50% of your home’s value is. 

Knowing about FEMA’s Substantial Damage rule is crucial before you begin to plan any home remodels or repairs following damage. Depending on your home’s location and the year it was built, elevating your home may be required. Fortunately, FEMA does offer programs and financial assistance for those who need it. 

Interested in learning more about remodeling rules for Florida homes? Curious about planning a remodel of your own for your Florida home (damaged or not!), but not quite sure where to begin? Adkins Building & Construction can answer all your questions and figure out the best course of action for you, whether you’re looking to renovate, remodel, or build new. Give us a call today. 

James Adkins

22 years in commercial, industrial, and residential construction roles solving a broad array of building, construction and real time application challenges.

Related Post