Patricia Skinner, Baker, Eugene
Elevation is the most reliable method of reducing damage from floods. It works when nobody is home, and it works in flash floods when there’s no time to use other measures. When flood levels exceed the protection level, the elevated structure will experience much less damage than a structure protected by wrap, wall, sealant or levee.
Elevation is the only floodproofing technique recognized by the National Flood Insurance Program for reduction of premiums.
Elevation is the only viable, stay-in-place, floodproofing option when anticipated flood levels exceed 3 feet.
If you consider taking the house off its slab, make a cost comparison. Estimate the total cost of that process. Include moving and storing contents, replacing floors and repairing walls. Raising the slab may be less expensive. (This calculation will be different if your home or business is in a damaged condition from flood or fire.)
Elevation, including the new foundation, is usually about half the cost of rebuilding. For the more expensively built and outfitted home or business, the cost will be less than half. It doesn’t cost any more to raise walnut paneling than fiberboard.
In comparing slab elevation with rebuilding, you should keep several things in mind. First, if you rebuild, remember you’re not just starting from scratch; you’ll need to consider demolition and removal expenses. Second, during construction, you’ll have moving and storage expenses and the cost of alternate accommodation. Third, remember you’re not simply replacing your home; you’re replacing it at a higher elevation.
If physical damage from a flood is compensated by flood insurance, you may find it difficult to justify the cost of elevation on strictly financial terms. But, properties which are a financial burden to the National Flood Insurance Program will find less relief and higher cost in the future as the program strives to remain solvent. Even when flood damages are compensated, flooding is destructive and traumatic.
Slab elevation is for you if you can afford it and if you want to stay in your home or can’t sell it. As people become increasingly aware of flooding, a home’s flood history and prospects for future flooding make the sale of that property more and more difficult. Elevation may be a way to regain property market value lost because of flooding.
Slab elevation is for you if you have trouble getting over the floods emotionally every time they happen and can’t face the physical demands of cleanup and repair any longer. For you, rising above the floods physically, by elevating your home or business,
may be your best option.