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Elevation of Modular Home Protects Just in Time

CHESTER, MD - Christine Behr describes herself as "playing general contractor," managing the steps necessary to make her new modular home ready for occupancy. Mrs. Behr and her husband used their own funds to purchase the home and the property was a gift from her grandparents. Because they had no mortgage, there was no flood insurance requirement.

She visited Maryland’s Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), which would allow her family to move into their new home. She met with Sharon Cook, Office Coordinator I, who discussed with her the floodplain regulations and the requirements to be compliant. Mrs. Cook provided the package for compliance, and Behr learned that their home was 1.5 feet below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) therefore it was non-compliant and a CO could not be issued. The building must be above the BFE and an additional two feet of elevation was recommended.

The Behrs then researched the pros and cons of additional elevation and determined that they needed to protect their biggest investment, their home. So they made the decision to elevate.

Their home had already been placed on the foundation. It had to be raised for the new foundation to be built underneath. The project took ten days for a total cost of $8,040 ($6,300 for the elevation; $1,740 for the foundation). Final elevation is now 8.56 feet, exceeding the recommendation. An additional mitigation measure is the flood control vents incorporated into the foundation. These vents are temperature controlled and adjust between open and closed positions automatically. During flood conditions water flows through the vents, in and out, avoiding build-up of water under the house.

The home is located approximately 125 feet in front of Cox Creek, a waterway branching off from Eastern Bay fed by the Chesapeake Bay. The day before Hurricane Isabel struck, the home was lowered and secured to the new foundation. As a result of the hurricane, Cox Creek reached flood stage and spilled its banks. Floodwater rose to a peak level of seven feet around the Behr home. But as Behr exclaimed, "Nothing inside our house got wet."

Christine Behr talks about the benefits that have resulted from elevating her home. Her daughter has asthma and exposing her to the health hazards of mold and mildew were avoided. They protected their investment and increased the re-sale value. Behr said, "If it hadn’t been for the caring and advice of Sharon Cook, we would have lost everything."

Last updated June 3, 2020