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Key Questions for Waterfront Property Owners to Ask

All Waterfront Property owners and prospective owners should, at a minimum investigate and be aware of the answers to the following questions.  To avoid frustration, delays and undue expenses, buyers of Waterfront Property should obtain the answers to these questions prior to closing.  

SandCastle Coastal Homes can help you through every obstacle and question to make your building experience the best it can be. Since every building site is different knowing what you can and can’t do will help you in your design and estimating process. Call us for a free on site evaluation and we can help you get the answers you need. 

FEMA

  1. Was the existing structure built after January 1, 1975?  [Note: If so, special flood plain management regulations may apply.]
  2. Is the property located in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) special hazard zone (Zone A or Zone V)
  3. What is the currently required Base Flood Elevation (“BFE“)
  4. For structures in FEMA A Zones, what is the elevation of top of the lowest enclosed, finished floor [Note: If this elevation is lower than the BFE, the structure may be non-conforming.  If non-conforming, the structure may be unlawful.]
  5. For structures in FEMA V Zones, what is the elevation of the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest enclosed, finished floor  [Note: If this elevation is lower than the BFE, the structure may be non-conforming.  If non-conforming, the structure may be unlawful.]
  6. What was the Base Flood Elevation for the existing structure at the time of its construction?
  7. Is the area below the lowest finished floor used solely for parking of vehicles, building access, or storage   [Note: If not, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  8. Is the area below the lowest finished floor enclosed
  9. Is there furniture (bed, couch, tables, etc.) on the ground floor?  [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  10. Is there a bathroom (commode, sink, shower) on the ground floor? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  11. Is there floor covering (carpet, tile, vinyl) on the ground floor? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  12. Are the ground floor walls finished with drywall or paneling? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  13. Are there kitchen appliances (stove, fridge, oven) on the ground floor? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  14. Is there a washer and/or dryer on the ground floor? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  15. Are there separate walled rooms on the ground floor? [Note: If so, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  16. If in a FEMA A Zone, do the walls enclosing the area below the lowest finished floor have a minimum of two openings no higher than one foot above grade having a total net open area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area  [Note: If not, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  17. If in a FEMA V Zone, are the walls below the lowest finished floor constructed with non-supporting breakaway walls , open wood lattice-work, or insect screening intended to collapse under wind and water loads without causing structural damage to the elevated portion of the building [Note: If not, the structure may be non-conforming.]
  18. Are any of the following located below the base flood elevation: Electrical Outlets, Air Conditioner, Appliances, Water Heater, Bathroom, Utility Sink?
  19. Are other houses in the neighborhood elevated on pilings? If so, and the existing house on the subject property is built on grade, said structure may be non-conforming.
  20. If in either a FEMA A or V Zone, does the existing building conform to current FEMA regulations
  21. If the existing structure does not conform to current FEMA regulations, when was the structure last improved?
  22. What was the market value of the non-conforming structure when improved
  23. What was the cost of the improvements when made? [Note: If the cost of the improvements exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure when improved, the structure may be non-conforming or future improvements may be limited.
  24. If the structure does not conform to FEMA regulations, has a variance been granted by the appropriate local government

COASTAL CONSTRUCTION

  1. Is any portion of the property or structure located seaward of the State of Florida Coastal Construction Control Line
  2. Were any structures located seaward of the State Coastal Construction Control Line (“CCCL”) constructed or modified after the establishment of the CCCL
  3. If so, was such construction or modification either permitted by the Florida Department of Natural Resources or Florida Department of Environmental Protection, or otherwise exempt from permitting requirements [Note: If not, such construction or modification may be unlawful.]
  4. If permitted, was such construction or modification performed in accordance with all permit conditions
  5. Is any portion of the property or structure located seaward of any local government coastal setback line

If so, were existing structures permitted or otherwise authorized by the applicable local government  [Note: If not authorized, such structures may be non-conforming, or unlawful.]

ADJACENT WATERS

  1. Are the waters adjacent to the property designated as either Outstanding Florida Waters or an Aquatic Preserve [Note: If yes, additional regulations apply to construction within such waters.]
  2. Are the bottoms of the adjacent waters sovereign submerged lands (i.e., State owned), or are they privately owned?
  3. If the bottoms of the adjacent waters are privately owned, have any easements been granted for the use thereof?

MANGROVES

  1. Are there any mangroves on or adjacent to the property
  2. Do the mangroves extend waterward of the mean high water line How far waterward do the mangroves extend from the shoreline [Note: The extent of trimming that can be conducted on mangroves located on sovereignty (state-owned) submerged lands is substantially limited.]
  3. How tall are the mangroves  [Note: Generally, mangroves less than 6 feet in height may not be trimmed.   Special regulations apply to mangroves that are 10, 16 and 24 feet or less in pretrimmed height.]
  4. Have the mangroves been historically trimmed to maintain a distinct configuration, such as a hedge or view window?   [Note: If so, trimming may be exempt from state permitting requirements.]
  5. Have the mangroves been previously trimmed in accordance with all applicable State regulations [Note:   If not, exemptions may not apply.]
  6. Are the mangroves protected as being part of a mitigation area or an area included within a conservation easement

WETLANDS

  1. Other than mangroves, are there any wetlands on the property
  2. Has there been any alteration of the wetlands by either dredging or filling
  3. Was a federal, state, or local government permit required for the observed alteration of the wetlands
  4. Were all required governmental authorizations obtained prior to the alteration of the wetlands  [Note: If not, the observed alterations may be unlawful.]
  5. May future dredging or filling be conducted within the observed wetlands

DREDGE AND FILL ACTIVITIES

  1. Are there any structures, such as a seawall, dock, deck, or pier constructed in, on, or over adjoining waters and/or wetlands?
  2. Was a federal, state, or local government permit required for the construction of such structures
  3. Was a required federal, state, or local government permit obtained prior to the construction of the observed structures [Note: If not, such structures may be unlawful and considered a public nuisance, subject to removal.]
  4. Was the structure constructed in accordance with all approved plans?
  5. Has the structure been altered since it was originally constructed?
  6. Were all alterations permitted by all applicable regulatory agencies?
  7. Will a federal, state, or local government permit be required for the maintenance, repair or replacement of existing structures
  8. Are new structures proposed for the subject property?
  9. Will the new structures be permittable under all applicable federal, state, and local regulations?
  10. If a new dock or dock expansion is proposed, are their adequate water depths to facilitate mooring at and access to the dock?
  11. Are there any seagrasses in the vicinity of the proposed dock or dock expansion?
  12. Who owns the submerged bottoms upon which the new dock is to be built?
  13. If privately owned, is there an easement granting the upland owner the right to build and maintain a dock upon said privately owned submerged bottoms?
  14. Are there any private deed restrictions pertaining to the construction of docks within waterways?
  15. Are there any private agreements, such as a “Joint Use Agreement” affecting the rights to use any existing structures?
  16. Are there any agreements or easements granting public rights of lateral access across the subject property?
  17. Are there any structures located below the mean high water line or otherwise located on state lands
  18. If located on state lands, were such structures authorized by the State [Note: If not, such structures may be unlawful and considered a public nuisance, subject to removal.]
  19. Is there a dredged navigation channel adjacent to the property?
  20. If so, was the dredged navigation channel permitted by federal, state and local authorities  [Note:   If not, continued navigable access cannot be assured in the future.]

MISCELLANEOUS

  1. Does the deed specify ownership to the mean high water line, or other statement indicating an intention that ownership is “to the waters”?
  2. Does the deed otherwise reflect that the property is benefited by riparian rights?
  3. Are there any existing or proposed structures on neighboring properties that may adversely affect the use and enjoyment of the subject property?
  4. Was the property or any structures upon the property the subject of any federal, state, or local government enforcement action
  5. Are there any restrictions on the use of the property mandated as a consequence of any enforcement actions
  6. Is the property burdened by a recorded Conservation Easement
  7. Is there a functioning potable (drinking) water well on the property?
  8. Will a new septic tank be required to facilitate use of the subject property?
  9. Will the new septic tank drainfield be at least 75 feet from any private potable water well?
  10. Will the new septic tank drainfield be at least 75 feet from any surface water body?
  11. Is there presently, or has there ever been a fuel oil storage tank on the property?

Links

The following links are intended to provide additional, useful and/or entertaining information regarding Waterfront Property and the Florida Gulf Coast.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) 

FDEP Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems

Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) Mapping

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA – Flood Maps, Insurance, and Information

Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council

Southwest Florida Water Management District

City of Bradenton

Manatee County Government

Manatee County Property Appraiser

Manatee County GIS

City of Sarasota

Sarasota County Government

Sarasota County Property Appraiser

Sarasota County GIS

Charlotte County Government

Charlotte County Property Appraiser

Charlotte County GIS

Town of Longboat Key

City of North Port

City of Venice

City of Punta Gorda

Town of Anna Maria Island

Manatee County Chamber of Commerce

Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce

Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce

Englewood Chamber of Commerce

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce

Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce

Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce

Mote Marine Laboratories