Building Flood-Resistant Homes in Houston with Bautex ICFs

icf homes houston

In response to the trag­ic flood­ing caused by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey in 2018, Hous­ton amend­ed their Flood­plain Code of Ordi­nances. Builders and archi­tects of new con­struc­tion and sub­stan­tial improve­ments projects in Hous­ton must design in accor­dance with both the City of Houston’s Code of Ordi­nances for Flood­plains and the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Civ­il Engi­neers 24 (ASCE 24).

Crit­i­cal com­po­nents of a suc­cess­ful flood-resis­tant design include ele­vat­ed struc­tures, mate­ri­als that can get wet, and design assem­blies that quick­ly dry when exposed to mois­ture, like Bau­tex insu­lat­ed con­crete forms (ICFs).

Hurricane Harvey Ravages Houston

On August 25, 2017, Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, (a Cat­e­go­ry 4 storm) hit Hous­ton. The storm cen­tered over or near the Texas coast for four days, pro­duc­ing his­toric amounts of rain­fall of more than 60 inch­es, result­ing in cat­a­stroph­ic flood­ing over two-thirds of Hous­ton. Fur­ther­more, Har­vey pro­duced 52 tor­na­does, about half of which occurred near and south of the Hous­ton metro area.

The Nation­al Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter reports that Hur­ri­cane Har­vey caused $125 bil­lion in dam­age and 68 deaths. Hur­ri­cane Har­vey dam­aged more than 204,000 homes and apart­ment build­ings in Har­ris Coun­ty, and the Greater Hous­ton Builders Asso­ci­a­tion reports Har­vey destroyed an esti­mat­ed 30,000 homes in Hous­ton.

Houston Rebuilds with Flood-Resistant Design

Hur­ri­cane Har­vey dev­as­tat­ed the Hous­ton area. How­ev­er, it cre­at­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty for Hous­ton to bounce back and rebuild with more flood-resis­tant struc­tures that will sur­vive future hur­ri­canes.

In response to the exten­sive flood­ing dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, the city of Hous­ton reviewed their local flood­plain reg­u­la­tions for new con­struc­tion and sub­stan­tial improve­ments, which result­ed in amend­ments to Chap­ter 19 (Flood­plains) of the City of Hous­ton Code of Ordi­nances. The pur­pose of these amend­ments, which went into effect Sep­tem­ber 1, 2018, is to ensure per­mit­ting reg­u­la­tions that stop or mit­i­gate flood­ing in Hous­ton. The changes in the flood­plain code of ordi­nances affect­ed the reg­u­lat­ed areas, ele­va­tion require­ments, and zero net fill.

Floodplain Regulated Areas

As of Sep­tem­ber 2018, Hous­ton requires enforce­ment of flood­plain devel­op­ment per­mits and guide­lines for prop­er­ties with­in the 500-year and 100-year flood­plain and flood­way. Before Sep­tem­ber 2018, the require­ment for flood­plain devel­op­ment per­mits and guide­lines was for prop­er­ties that were par­tial­ly or entire­ly with­in the 100-year flood­plain and flood­way.

Impor­tant­ly, when build­ing with­in a reg­u­la­to­ry flood­plain and Spe­cial Flood Haz­ard Area (SFHA) in the City of Hous­ton, a con­trac­tor must first obtain a Flood­plain Devel­op­ment Per­mit before draw­ing a plat map or get­ting a demo­li­tion, build­ing, or site per­mit. The City of Houston’s Flood­plain Man­age­ment Office (FMO), reviews and enforces the per­mits, which car­ries a fee rang­ing from $110 to $2,697.

Floodplain Elevation Required

As of Sep­tem­ber 2018, the fin­ished floor ele­va­tion (FFE) of a pro­posed build­ing or addi­tion increased to at or above the 500-year base flood ele­va­tion (BFE) plus 2 feet. Before Sep­tem­ber 2018, the FFE only need­ed to meet or exceed the 100-year BFE plus 1 foot.

Zero Net Fill in Floodplains

As of Sep­tem­ber 2018, Hous­ton man­dat­ed a zero net fill reg­u­la­tion for earth­work, paving, build­ing, and grad­ing with­in flood­plain reg­u­lat­ed areas.

What is Zero Net Fill?

Both fill that is added to reach the new ele­va­tion and the struc­ture adds to the water dis­place­ment and cause the flood­plain width of the prop­er­ty to increase. Zero net fill requires remov­ing land equal to the fill and build amounts so to off­sets the vol­ume of water and decrease the flood­plain width, which will help pro­tect the struc­ture dur­ing a flood event.

Building a Flood-Resistant Structure in Houston

In Hous­ton, the design of a flood-resis­tant struc­ture must be com­pli­ant with the City of Hous­ton Code of Ordi­nances for Flood­plains and the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Civ­il Engi­neers 24 (ASCE 24). An effec­tive flood-resis­tant design includes ele­vat­ed struc­tures, mate­ri­als that can get wet, and design assem­blies that eas­i­ly dry when exposed to mois­ture, like Bau­tex Blocks. While foun­da­tions with­in the flood­plains of Hous­ton con­tin­ue to allow any foun­da­tion in the 100-year or 500-year flood­plain, Har­ris Coun­ty cur­rent flood­plain reg­u­la­tions spec­i­fies pier & beam.

In Hous­ton, flood-resis­tant design with­in the 500-year and 100-year flood­plain is essen­tial for pro­tect­ing a struc­ture and the occu­pants from a dan­ger­ous flood.

Best Practice for a Flood-Resistant Walls in Houston

Bau­tex Blocks are a superb mate­r­i­al choice for a flood-resis­tant wall in Hous­ton. The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is mois­ture-resis­tant, durable, per­me­able, and resis­tant to mold and mildew. The Bau­tex Wall Assem­bly includes the Bau­tex Block and the Bau­tex AMB 20 Air and Mois­ture Bar­ri­er.

Bautex Block is Moisture-Resistant

The Bau­tex Block is a mois­ture- resis­tant com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al of EPS foam beads and cement. Appli­ca­tion of the Bau­tex AMB 20 Air and Mois­ture Bar­ri­er over the Bau­tex Blocks pre­vents mois­ture from get­ting into the walls.

Bautex Block are Mold-Resistant

The water resis­tance and inor­gan­ic com­po­si­tion of the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem pre­vent the growth of mold and mildew in a home. No mold and mildew on the wall mean less clean up than a wall built with non-water resis­tant, organ­ic mate­ri­als, like wood fram­ing and ori­ent­ed strand board (OSB) used for exte­ri­or wall sheath­ing.

Bautex Blocks are Durable

Bau­tex Block rein­forced con­crete con­struc­tion does not degrade when wet and main­tains its orig­i­nal dura­bil­i­ty dur­ing and after a flood.

The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem has all the vital ele­ments of a flood-resis­tant wall: the dura­bil­i­ty and strength to resist water intru­sion before and after a flood, water-, mold-, and mildew- resis­tance, and per­me­abil­i­ty. Bau­tex walls are also quick and easy to clean after a flood.

Houston’s amend­ed Flood­plain Code of Ordi­nances aim to pro­tect homes from flood­ing dis­as­ters. Builders and archi­tects that design in accor­dance with both the City of Hous­ton Code of Ordi­nances for Flood­plains and the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Civ­il Engi­neers 24 (ASCE 24) will ensure the integri­ty of the struc­ture against exces­sive flood­ing.

A suc­cess­ful flood-resis­tant design includes ele­vat­ed struc­tures, prod­ucts that can get wet, and design assem­blies that dry fast when exposed to water, like Bau­tex insu­lat­ed con­crete block.