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Wind Mitigation – and how it can save you $$

Florida’s Foundation, in conjunction with the Florida Division of Energy Management has published a booklet on Wind Mitigation for your home. This booklet details the various strategies that are available to homeowners who live in areas prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, and the benefits of each. Well worth a read, and should be part of your homebuilding research file. Click here to download a copy.

FEMA’s “Severe Repetitive Loss Program”

The Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) Pilot Program, hereafter referred to as the
SRL program, provides funding to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of
flood damage to severe repetitive loss residential structures insured under the

Click here to download the guidelines

What Is a Buildable Waterfront Lot?

A potential building site may or may not be properly classified as a buildable lot. Each state, county and city has its own definition of the term. For many, a buildable site is one in which every level of government has granted permission for construction to begin. Permissible building is not always cost effective building. Real estate agents may describe a piece of land as buildable without knowledge of the feasibility of infrastructure placement.

Proper Definition of a Buildable Lot
A buildable lot is a piece of land on which construction is cost effective and feasible. All feasibility studies have been completed, all utilities are available and all municipal, county and state permits have been granted. To discern whether or not a lot is buildable, you must complete an extensive research process. Government employees will not do the research work. This is up to the landowner. Questions must be asked and answered several times, and the answers provided in writing whenever possible.

Beginning the Research Process
Inquire at the office of the county land assessor regarding the legal status of the property. After informing this official about the location of the property, his office will provide you with a map of the property along with the land’s legal description. Any easements should be duly recorded on the site map provided. Is the site zoned for what will be built there? What would be required to change the zoning? A reliable builder/contractor should be able to advise you if there are any issues that would inhibit the building process, such as a flood plain location, steep gradation or land containing too many trees.

Legal Considerations
Enlist a title company or real estate lawyer to search for any pre-existing liens against the property or for any reasons the site may not be accessible geographically or legally. Building materials may have to cross a neighboring property and permission must be given by the neighbor to cross her land.

Next Steps
The city and/or county planning departments must be consulted to determine what will be needed to make the site buildable. Will the site require a septic system or can the structure be connected into the public sewer system? Design applications may need to be acquired and completed before a septic system can be approved. How much will it cost to bring electrical power, potable water and telephone service to the site? Are cable television or gas lines available?

Environmental Concerns
The property may contain wetlands or waterlands that may require environmental assessment before building may legally proceed. There may also be issues related to storm water control or geotechnical considerations that must be addressed. Many subdivisions have neighborhood building restrictions on design and the materials that may be used. If there are any covenants, conditions or restrictions with which you do not wish to adhere, consider the site not buildable.

The Bottom Line
If all your questions and concerns have been satisfactorily addressed, you may consider the lot buildable and proceed with the purchase of the land. A purchase made without research may prove to be exceedingly troublesome, annoying and costly.

Remodel or Replace Your Beach House: Fort Myers Beach – 50% Rule & Substantial Improvements

The Town of Fort Myers Beach has written guidelines relating to improvements on existing structures with respect to limits which determine whether or not a structure must be raised to meet base flood elevations. The general discussion revolves around the definition of Substantial Improvement or the “50% Rule.”

This set of restrictions addresses the concerns of owners considering making improvements to existing structures or making repairs in the event of a weather incident in which structural damages occur. Simply stated, the 50 % rule is a regulation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) stating that structures that have a lowest living floor, which does not meet or exceed the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) as identified on the current Flood Insurance Rate Map may not be substantially improved. BFE within the Town of Fort Myers Beach ranges between 13–17 feet depending on the property’s location.

Fort Myers Beach 50 % Rule – Making Substantial Improvements To Your Property
Substantial Improvement is defined as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement to a structure in which the cost equals or exceeds 50 % of the market value of the structure, prior to construction of the improvement, over a five year period. This includes structures that have incurred ” Substantial Damage ” or ” Repetitive Loss ” regardless of work performed. If a project meets the definition of ” Substantial Improvement “ or ” Substantial Damage “ it is considered new construction and the entire building must be elevated to or above the Base Flood Elevation.

Additional issues addressed in the Town of Fort Myers Beach whitepaper are summarized as follows:
1. Why is it important to know if an improvement is substantial ?
2. What types of structures must comply?
3. Will permits be issued for a ” Substantial Improvement ” ?
4. What is Market Value ?
5. Can replacement cost be substituted for market value ?
6. Which projects are exempted from the 50 % rule ?
7 Do maintenance projects count ?
8. Can I enclose the area under my home and make it habitable ?
9. Is Substantial Improvement cumulative ?
10. How is the value of an improvement determined ?
11. Is the cost of an improvement reduced by owner labor or materials donation ?
12. Are there any items excluded from the cost of improvement ?
13. How do I determine the BFE of my property ?
14. What are the flood zones within The town of Fort Myers Beach ?
15. How do I determine the lowest elevation floor of my home ?
16. Is flood insurance required ?
17. Why should owners be penalized for upgrading a structure ?
18. What if The Town of Fort Myers Beach did not participate in the NFIP ?

Additional information on the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ) can be found by visiting:
You have questions, we have answers !!!! Contact us today for additional information or a free assessment.
We help you solve your waterfront building needs!

FEMA Fact Sheet – Building your home in a flood zone

FEMA has recently released a fact sheet with important information regarding building your home in an area prone to flooding. SandCastle Coastal Homes is your elevated and stilt home experts and we stand ready to help you with any questions you may have.

Give us a call or contact us via this website today for more info.

Click here to download a copy of the FEMA Fact Sheet

Soil survey data now available

Do you need help evaluating your land to see if it’s suitable for building? We recently discovered a treasure trove of soil survey data compiled by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service:

More than 95% of the nation’s counties are covered.

This fabulous resource is helpful when looking at a parcel of land and determining its suitability for choosing a home foundation type, building a home, cultivating a garden, sustaining wildlife, etc.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Improving Construction Efficiency and Productivity using Modular Construction

Coastal Construction Technical Data Sheets

Click any of the links below to download Coastal Construction Data Sheets:

Coastal Construction 1: Success and Failure
Coastal Construction 2: Requirements and Recommedations
Coastal Construction 3: using flood insurance and rate map
Coastal Construction 4: Lowest Floor Elevation
Coastal Construction 5: V-Zone Design and Construction Certification
Coastal Construction 6: How Do Siting and Design Affect Cost
Coastal Construction 7: Selecting a Lot and Sitting the Building
Coastal Construction 8: Coastal Building Materials
Coastal Construction 9: Moisture Barrier Systems
CoastalConstruction 10: Load Paths
Coastal Construction 11: Foundations in Coastal Areas
Coastal Construction 12: Pile Installation
Coastal Construction 13: Wood Pile to Beam Installation
Coastal Construction 14: Reinforced Masonry Pier
Coastal Construction 15: Foundation Walls
Coastal Construction 16: Masonry Details
Coastal Construction 18: Roof Sheathing Installation
Coastal Construction 19: Roof Underlayment for Asphalt Shingle Roofs
Coastal Construction 20: Asphalt Shingle Roofing for High-Wind Regions
Coastal Construction 21: Tile Roofing for High-Wind Areas
CoastalConstruction 22: Window and Door Installation
CoastalConstruction 23: House Wrap
Coastal Construction 24: Roof-to-wall and Deck-to-wall Flashing
Coastal Construction 25: Siding Installation and Connectors
Coastal Construction 26: Shutter Alternatives
Coastal Construction 27: Enclosures and Break-Away Walls
Coastal Construction 28: Deck Pools and Accessory Structures
Coastal Construction 29: Protecting Utilities
Coastal Construction 30: Repairs Remodeling and Retrofitting
Coastal Construction 31: References

Foundation Reference Guide

New flood elevations set by FEMA require many houses built in coastal areas to be raised between 2’ and 14’ or more above grade, depending on local topography and risk exposure. Local homeowners who build houses on elevated foundations should choose a system that resists wind uplift and lateral forces, is easily constructed, and allows water to pass beneath the finished house. Depending on the required flood elevation, several systems may be appropriate. This comprehensive guide to the options will help you make the best decision as to which is right for your new home.

Click here to download

FEMA Technical Bulletin 1-93: Openings in Foundation Walls

Openings in Foundation Walls for Buildings Located in Special Flood Hazard Areas in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program – Click here to download