Probably no one will forget what Hurricane Harvey did to East Texas as long as they live. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were flooded, sustaining millions of dollars in damages. With the waters long receded, many home and business owners wonder how to prevent such destruction in the future. With climate change threatening to increase the size and severity of flooding events, being proactive would seem prudent.
One solution many are considering is elevating their homes and businesses so that if and when the next Harvey strikes, they will ride it out in relative safety. However, as Citylab notes, this solution can be very expensive.
First, how high is high enough? The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) suggests three feet. Houston, however, requires only one foot over a hundred-year flood plain, and many jurisdictions require none at all.
Another problem is cost. Elevating a new home can cost about $13,000-$14,000 to raise it just one foot by trucking in soil to raise the slab. However, raising an old home can be an eye-popping $180,000 to $250,000 for a crew to tunnel underneath and raise the house on jacks.
At that point the home or business owner is faced with the possibility of either tearing down the structure entirely and rebuilding from the ground up or relocating outside a flood zone. Either option is likely to be very expensive, even after accessing government programs designed to offer financial assistance.
Still, property owners may have to pay now or pay later. Having a home that will ride out the next Harvey is likely to increase its value tremendously. The investment may make a lot of sense if you are planning to live in the same location for any lengthy period of time.
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