This page provides useful information for home builders, developers and/or construction professionals regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mapping effort.
As a home builder, developer and/or construction professional, it is important for you to understand flood zones and how they relate to building codes/standards, client/buyer hazard risks and expectations and, ultimately, the sustainability of your projects. There are steps you can take in the siting, design and construction of your properties that can reduce risk--potentially lowering flood insurance premium and protecting the property from coastal storm damage.
What You Should Know and Why
As part of the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) effort, FEMA has undertaken a scientific and engineering effort to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Studies (FISs) in populated coastal areas nationwide. As a result, property owners throughout the United States will have up-to-date, reliable and internet-accessible information about their flood risk. Some residents and business owners will learn that their flood risk is designated as higher—or lower—than on the previous FIRM. This FEMA-led effort is being undertaken in cooperation with other federal agencies, state agencies, regional entities, non-profit organizations (including universities and professional associations), local communities and tribal entities. To learn more about this multi-year effort, visit the Coastal Flood Risk Study Process page.
As the coastal engineering analyses are completed, each jurisdiction hosts a formal meeting and/or open house where FEMA and their federal, state and regional partners present the new versions of the digital FIRMs to community officials and the general public. To find out the progress of your community’s coastal mapping project, please visit the Risk MAP Progress Tracker website. This website offers an interactive map that allows users to zoom in, locate their community and click to learn about the project status (i.e. time frame for their preliminary and effective maps). To use this website, you may be required to download a browser plug-in.
Take advantage FEMA's technical guidance for building a stronger and safer coast. In some cases, this guidance goes above local building code requirements. If you are a premium quality developer, this guidance enables you to offer significant risk reduction to discerning buyers willing to go the extra step toward disaster resilience:
- Coastal Construction Manual: Principles and Practices of Planning, Siting, Designing, Constructing and Maintaining Residential Buildings in Coastal Areas (4th ed.)
- Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction
- Introduction to Residential Coastal Construction (Independent Study Course IS-386)
- Mitigation of Flood and Erosion Damage to Residential Buildings in Coastal Areas (FEMA 257)
- Mitigation Best Practices Portfolio (Hurricane Katrina) - find stories of what others have done to reduce or prevent damage from Hurricane Katrina or rebuild stronger and safer afterward.
- Recommended Residential Construction for the Gulf Coast: Building on Strong and Safe Foundations (FEMA P-550)
- NFIP Technical Bulletins provide technical recommendations for flood-resistant design techniques based on FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team and partner research.
Building code-related information:
I-Codes Sample Checklists for Flood Hazards. This document contains a Plan Review Checklist for Flood Hazard Area Application Review and an Inspection Checklist for Flood Hazard Area Inspections in both A Zones and V Zones. The checklists are from Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Code Series (3rd Edition).
Quick Reference Guide: Comparison of Select NFIP & Building Code Requirements for Special Flood Hazard Areas. This guide illustrates the similarities and highlights the differences between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements and the requirements of the International Code Series (I-Codes) and Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24) for most residential and commercial buildings.
CodeMaster for Flood Resistant Design (2011). Provides designers with an easy-to-use desk reference that identifies the flood provisions in the 2009 and 2012 International Building Code® (IBC®) and International Residential Code® (IRC®), as well as the flood requirements of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards 7-05, 7-10, and 24-05. The eight-page guide provides sections on preliminary considerations and design process, key flood terminology, a 12-step process to incorporate flood resistance in the design of a building, an example showing the 12-step process being executed and information on additional FEMA mitigation resources related to flood-resistant design. This guide can be purchased from the International Code Council.
FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Reports include technical and engineering design recommendations for structures based on findings from a number of natural disasters. Click here to read the FEMA MAT Reports.
Steps You Can Take
Recommend that your clients build outside of the high-risk SFHAs and/or build to flood-resistant standards using the above-listed resources.
Understand the coastal flood risk study process so you can correctly advise clients on the correct way to build in coastal areas.
Know the Letter of Map Change process, if you believe the flood zone is incorrect or if your development activities will change the floodplain.
Adhere to NFIP and accepted industry building codes for hurricane and flood-resistant design.
Learn how you can reduce flood risk and increase the community’s disaster resilience by reviewing case studies on how others have built or rebuilt smarter, safer and stronger in the Best Practices and Case Studies Portfolio.
For More Information
Learn about what resources, grants, and other information is available when Rebuilding After a Coastal Storm.
Find answers to many of your questions by visiting our Coastal Frequently Asked Questions page.
The Coastal Risk Resources page, organized by region and stakeholder group, contains links to useful fact sheets, flyers, brochures and other helpful documents produced by FEMA, other federal agencies, state agencies, water management districts and other entities.