March 29, 2018

Rebuilding a Commercial Building After a Flood

When a flood damages or destroys a commercial building in either a high- or low-risk flood zone, the owner often must choose between repairing, rebuilding, or moving. Essential to this decision, is whether the business had flood insurance, which can cover the costs of repairing and rebuilding. Typically, a standard commercial building policy does not cover damage from flooding. If the choice is to remain at the current location and the damage is beyond repair, rebuilding is the next step. For commercial buildings and structures located in whole or in part of a flood hazard area, the design and construction must be according to American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Flood Resistant Design and Construction, ASCE 24-14. The ASCE 24 is the reference standard in the 2018 International Codes® (I-Codes®) for flood-resistant design and construction. The ASCE 24 gives the minimum requirements and expected performance for the siting, design and construction of buildings and structures in flood hazard areas. Commercial property owners in both high- and low-risk flood zones are wise to obtain flood insurance, to cover the cost of rebuilding after a flood.

Commercial Property Flood Insurance

Commercial property flood insurance protects business owners against losses due to overflowing water systems, heavy or prolonged rain, storm surge, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems, broken dams or levees, or other similar causes. Commercial property flood insurance, in fact, is required for buildings located in a high-risk flood zone (also called Special Flood Hazard Area) that have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), allows business owners in participating communities1 to buy federally backed flood insurance. The NFIP also assigns the risk of flooding by zones. Zones A and V are regions of high-risk. Zones B, C, and X are regions of moderate to low-risk. However, when flood insurance is not required, like in moderate-to-low-risk areas, flood insurance is advisable for protecting against losses due to flooding. In fact, FEMA reports that those insured outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file nearly 25 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding.  Commercial flood insurance from NFIP provides up to $500,000 of coverage for the building and up to $500,000 for its contents. Additional insurance, called excess insurance coverage, can be purchased and covers rebuilding properties valued above the NFIP limits and protection against business interruption. Commercial property flood insurance protects business owners against losses due to a flood by providing the financial means to repair or rebuild.

Constructing a Flood-Resistant Commercial Building

After a flood, rebuilding a commercial building located in a flood hazard area must be designed in accordance with ASCE 24. According to FEMA, buildings designed to ASCE 24 standards are better able to resist flood loads and damage and meet or exceed the minimum requirement for the NFIP. ASCE 24 also includes additional requirements and limitations that are not in NFIP regulations. The ASCE 24 standard includes requirements for the following:

  1. basic siting and design and construction requirements for structures in flood hazard areas
  2. flood damage-resistant materials
  3. dry floodproofing and wet floodproofing
  4. building access
  5. minimum elevations for the lowest floor
  6. floodproofing measures, each tied to a structure's Flood Design Class
  7. structures in high-risk flood hazard areas subject to flooding associated with high-velocity flow, alluvial fans, mudslides, flash floods, erosion, coastal wave action, or debris and ice jams.
  8. structures in Coastal V Zones and Coastal A Zones
  9. attendant utilities and equipment, including electrical service, plumbing systems, mechanical/HVAC systems, and elevators
  10. and miscellaneous construction, including decks and porches, concrete slabs, garages and carports, accessory storage structures, chimneys and fireplaces, pools, and tanks

Building a Flood-Resistant Commercial Building with Bautex Wall System

The Bautex Wall System is an excellent material choice for a commercial building in a high- or low-risk flood zone. The Bautex Block will not degrade when wet and maintains its original shape and durability during and after a flood. In addition, application of the Bautex AMB 20-WP Air and Moisture Barrier to both sides of the Bautex wall above the maximum flood elevation will prevent water from getting into the wall. Furthermore, Bautex Blocks are inorganic; therefore, not a food source for mold and mildew. The water resistance and inorganic composition of the Bautex Wall System prevents the growth of mold and mildew inside the walls of a building. Preventing mold and mildew growth on or inside the walls means less clean up after a flood than a wall constructed with non-water resistant, organic materials, like wood, plywood, and oriented strand board (OSB). The Bautex Wall System meets the ASCE 24 criteria for a flood damage-resistant material: moisture resistant, durable, and mold and mildew resistant.

When rebuilding a commercial building after a flood, the design must be in accordance with ASCE 24 and meet or exceed the minimum requirement for the NFIP. Commercial building owners are wise to invest in NFIP insurance, whether located in a high- or low-risk flood zone. In either case, The financial consequences of not having flood insurance coverage could be devastating if a flood occurs. For more information on rebuilding a commercial building after a flood, visit Bautex Wall System.

1 Participation in the NFIP is optional. However, the Federal government only offers flood insurance to participating communities. To join the community, participants must:

  1. File an application
  2. Adopt a resolution of intent to cooperate and participate with FEMA
  3. Adopt and submit a floodplain management ordinance that meets or exceeds the minimum NFIP standard. The floodplain management ordinance must also adopt any Flood Insurance Rate Map(FIRM) or Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) for the community

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