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.