Buying a house has always been on the bucket list of many people. Owning a house is the best reward they can give themselves for the effort they put in every day at work. And when the real estate agent gives them the keys to the house, they can finally say they did it. However, the house you might be consider could be in a flood zone. Is buying a house in a flood zone a terrible idea? Keep on reading to find out.
But, before they make the purchase, they would normally check the market for the best deal they can get. You’ll likely do the same thing if you’re in the market for a house.
However, what would you do if you find a great deal but the house is located in a flood zone? Would you go for it or is it too risky for you?
If you have no idea what to do, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you make up your mind by giving you some things to consider when you’re thinking about buying a house in a flood zone.
Before we move forward, we should talk about the common types of floods.
Common Types of Floods
Floods are caused by a number of different things. Here are some of the most common reasons.
#1: Fluvial flood or river flood
These are floods that occur when water levels of a river, a stream, or a lake rises and overflows. This increase in water level may be caused by excessive rain or melting snow.
The severity of the flood depends on the volume and duration of rainfall and the soil water saturation.
Floodwaters will be shallower and will rise slowly in flat areas. On the other hand, floods will rise fast in hilly areas right after heavy rainfall.
#2: Pluvial flood or a surface water flood
These are floods caused by heavy rainfall in areas without any body of water close to it. They can happen anywhere, in both urban and rural areas.
There are two kinds of pluvial floods: surface water floods where a drainage system is overwhelmed and flash floods caused by huge amounts of water from torrential rain.
#3: Coastal floods or storm surges
These are floods in areas along the coast where strong windstorm events happen together with high tides and tsunamis. The severity of these floods depends on the speed, strength, direction, and size of the windstorm.
The coastal landscape also plays a role in how severe these floods can be.
Now that you have an idea about the types of floods that may occur, let’s take a look at the things you should consider before you buy a house in a flood-prone area.
Things to Consider Before Buying a House in a Flood-Prone Area
Before finalizing your decision, you should check the following.
Floodplain of the House
The first thing to check is how far into a floodplain is the house located. This will allow you to know the flooding risk of the property. With this knowledge, you’ll have an idea of the cost of flood insurance.
You can check the extent through government agencies, such as FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These agencies normally have a free online flood map homeowners or potential homeowners can check.
You should also check if the house is located in between two floodplains so you will know the insurance costs when you purchase it.
Once you identify the floodplain, it’s time to check the flood history of the area. If the area experienced flooding several times in the past, it may mean several flood claims were made as well. This will significantly increase insurance costs.
Knowing the flood history of the property will allow you to know if the value of the house is fair. You should also check the reason for the flooding. It may not be caused by a storm, but by some pipes that burst inside the house.
You should have an idea about this before agreeing to the price in case you want to buy it.
You should also check the frequency of the flood in the area. It may be more prevalent than what you initially thought. So, you should get the latest information about how often the area gets flooded
Climate change may have had a hand in the increased frequency of floods in different parts of the world. It caused heavier precipitation, more frequent hurricanes, and even a higher sea level. With this in mind, you should check the information provided by different government agencies, such as FEMA.
Site Survey and Elevation Certificate
A site survey and an elevation certificate give you an idea about the risk of floods in the future. While a flood map may give you an idea of the house is located within a floodplain, an elevation certificate gives you the base flood elevation of the house.
Even as a site survey is provided to lenders before the deal is closed, an elevation certificate is only given if the house is located in a floodplain. These documents are also not provided if you’re paying in cash. So, it’s best for you to ask for these documents.
Buying a House in a Flood Zone: Effects on Home Insurance
Before you finalize your purchase, you should always get a flood insurance quote for the house. This will give you an idea about the cost of flood insurance before you buy the house.
Even as water-related damage, such as a busted pipe, may be included in a homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance is not typically covered. You’ll have to pay additional to have it included.
The cost depends on whether the house is located in a low-risk area or a high-risk area. It can range from just under a thousand dollars up to more than ten thousand dollars every year.
Flood insurance normally covers the foundation and structural damage as well as damage to home equipment, such as the water heater, electrical system, or the furnace.
At this point, you may already have everything you need to decide if you want to buy that property located in a flood zone. There is definitely a risk in buying a house in a flood zone.
So, you may want to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of buying a property in food zones.
If you decide to buy the house even though you know it’s in a flood zone, there are some things you can do to reduce the effects of the flood on the property.
What You Can Do When Your Property Is In A Flood Zone
If you decide to take the risk and purchase a house in a flood zone, you can do the following things to reduce the effects of the flood.
#1: Buy Flood Insurance
Since flood insurance is normally not included in your homeowner’s insurance, you may want to get it as an add-on. The cost of insurance depends on the risk of flooding in the area. The higher the risk the higher the cost.
Even if your home is not located in a flood zone, you may still consider getting flood insurance since floods are not anymore limited to flood zones.
FEMA revealed that around 20 percent of flood claims are from homes that aren’t located in flood-prone areas. So, it’s best to have flood insurance even if it’s not a requirement in your area.
#2: Use Waterproofing Materials
Since you already know the area gets flooded, you can keep the water at bay by using waterproofing materials on the basement walls. This allows you to protect items stored in the basement.
Before applying the waterproofing material, remove any paint on the wall to ensure the material adheres to the bare masonry. You may also have to remove any white deposits that form on the walls.
When you apply waterproofing, make sure to fill in small surface holes of the wall. After the waterproofing is completely dry, you can apply a second coat.
#3: Keep Gutters and Storm Drains Clear
When you prepare your home properly, you can soften the impact of heavy rains in your area. Keeping flood at bay may require something as simple as cleaning gutters and storm drains.
If the gutter and storm drain is clean, it can channel the rain away. You should also make sure the downspouts are clear and point away from the house.
#4: Reinforce the Roof
A leaking roof can cause a lot of water damage inside the house. Due to this, you should make sure your roof has no leaks. When you’re in the process of replacing the roof, you may want to get an asphalt-shingled roof since they can last around 25 years.
Waterproofing material should also be installed under the shingles. The material will prevent rainwater from leaking in.
#5: Install a Sump Pump
Installing a sump pump allows you to remove any water that starts to accumulate in the basement. You can install the pump in case your area gets flooding regularly.
A sump pump with a battery backup is ideal so you can use it even if the power is out.
#6: Install Foundation Vents
When you install foundation vents, you basically allow water to flow through the house instead of allowing it to pool around it. Aside from providing an outlet for flood water, these vents also take away the pressure flood water applies to the basement walls and windows.
#7: Install Non-Return Valves in Pipes
All the pipes leading into the house should have no-return valves or check valves. This will prevent flooded sewage from going into the house.
If you’re going to install these valves, you should get gate valves since they provide better protection against flood pressure.
#8: Improve Your Lawn Grading
Your lawn should slope away from the house to prevent water from pooling around the foundations. It may be necessary for you to add dirt to enhance the grading so the runoff will empty into a street gutter.
Buying a house in a flood zone is indeed a risky proposition. But, these houses are cheaper compared to those located in areas that are not prone to flooding.
Due to this, you should weigh the pros and cons of buying a property in this area. In the end, you’ll have the final decision on whether to risk buying the house or not.
Have your Say about Buying a House in a Flood Zone
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about buying a home in flood zone? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about purchasing a home in a floodplain.
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