The price of going up

New homes likely affected by FEMA recommendations

April 19, 2006 at 11:49 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The price of going up
Even though few homes were destroyed locally from Hurricane Katrina, the advisory base flood elevation released by FEMA last week could potentially shakeup the construction of new homes in St. Charles Parish along the east bank.

According to the release from FEMA, "New construction and substantially damaged homes and businesses within a designated FEMA floodplain (the red area on the map to the right) should be elevated to either the Base Flood Elevation shown on the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Map or at least 3 ft. above the highest adjacent existing ground elevation at the building site, whichever is higher

In layman's terms, this means that new homes in the designated areas will have to be raised 3 ft. from the highest point on a lot or Base Flood Elevation, which ever is higher. This doesn't mean that existing structures will have to be raised.

While only an advisory from FEMA, FEMA officials have speculated to Coastal Zone Management Administrator Earl Matherne for St. Charles Parish that the Louisiana Recovery Authority may force the parish to adopt the recommendations.

If the LRA forces St. Charles Parish to adopt these measures, then the parish will have to incorporate them in order to receive grant money for flood control structures. This troubles Matherne because the parish will be without recourse to appeal the recommendations.

As for direct costs to new homeowners,State Representative for the National Home Builders Association Randy Noel said "It appears that there wasn't a whole lot of analysis to come up with this."

"What doesn't make any sense is the new homes down by the river (on the east bank) -- places that have never flooded -- are going to have to be 3 ft. above the ground, which means that the houses could be, in places, 13-14 ft. above sea level," said Noel, feeling that parts of the advisory are overkill.

In existing neighborhoods, new homes will be 3 ft. higher than older homes, creating a host of potential drainage problems, such as a pooling.

Noel said the advisory, if adopted, will cause the price of homes to go up 4 percent or $8,000 at least, as dirt will now have to be hauled in to raise a lot to meet the guidelines.

With an increase of 5 to 8 percent in the new building codes, along with a 15 percent increase in labor materials post-Katrina, Noels sees a potential 26 percent increase in the cost to build a home.

“It's going to make it difficult for people to buy houses,” said Noel.

View other articles written Michael Luke

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