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Consulting the flood maps

Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs, are more commonly referred to as flood maps. They provide guidelines regarding flooding risks, insurance and building requirements. In the wake of the devastating flooding in the Louisiana parishes near the Gulf Coast, California residents might want to revisit flood questions about their own properties.

Flood maps are a good place to start, as they indicate whether an area is at low, moderate or high risk of flooding. In some cases, flood risks are labeled as undetermined, and those areas are marked on the map as Zone D. Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas refer to areas that have low or moderate flooding risks. On flood maps, these show up as B, C, or X. Special Flood Hazard Areas are those that are at high risk of flooding, and they are marked as V or A.

When you are considering buying a property, investing in a construction project or building a home, you need to know what the flood risk is for the property in question. First, that might change how you approach the project. Flood insurance in high risk areas is often very expensive, which affects the cost of your purchase. Second, a higher flood risk might mean changes to construction or design. You might not put the computer server room in the basement if it regularly floods, and you might consider building up the property by creating a foundational hill before building if flooding is common.

Even with a high risk of flooding, that doesn't mean construction companies don't have to toe the line on quality and liability. If an area floods, but you can prove water damaged your building more than normal because of a construction defect, you might be able to seek recovery from your contractor. Working with a construction law professional in such situations can help you better understand your options.

Source: FloodSmart.gov, "What are Flood Maps?," accessed Aug. 19, 2016

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