News Article

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