St. Augustine considers requiring homes be built higher

Read full article here ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Building homes higher. That’s what the City of St. Augustine is considering. In Monday evening’s meeting, city commissioners will discuss tweaking the current law in order to require new homes be built higher in order to improve the FEMA rating and lower flood insurance premiums.

In the Lincolnville neighborhood, new homes are already getting built higher.

It’s a trend contractors and sub-contractors are seeing emerge since the hurricanes.

Sub-contractor Robert Jackson nods, “Right, higher and higher every time.”

“It’s a good idea,” Contactor Geare MacDonald said. He has even elevated existing homes since Hurricane Matthew. The City of St. Augustine is considering a move to increase the minimum elevation requirement. In zones considered coastal, new homes would have to be built a foot higher than the base flood elevation.

“Currently we build at 9 feet above the mean high tide,” MacDonald said.

Mean high tide is the average high tide.

“That’s considered the flood plain currently. Nine feet. That’s where we’re susceptible to floods.”

So again, the city commission will consider making homes be built at least 10 feet above sea level, instead of 9 feet.

To give some perspective, a concrete block sitting on its side is 8 inches tall. So if new homes are required to be built another foot taller, they would be built another concrete block and a half higher.

St. Augustine’s Director of Planning and Building is David Birchim. He expects the state building code will mandate that change in the spring anyway.

“So in other words, we’re trying to get ahead of that state building code change, so that we can get the points from FEMA to increase the community’s rating to lower their flood insurance premiums.”

“I think it’s a good idea because it protects the homeowner,” Peter Friederich of Key Concepts Restoration said.

MacDonald estimates that building a home a foot higher would cost the homeowner 10 percent or less — more. He believes it would be worth it in insurance costs and protecting the investment of a home.

“It appears the water will rise,” MacDonald said. “I hope not, but we shall see.”

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