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J. Warren
J. Warren, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2211
Experience:  Experience in residential real estate and commercial leases.
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Our house build in 1937 is located in a flood zone. The

Customer Question

Hello,
Our house build in 1937 is located in a flood zone. The house includes an uninhabitable basement which is below the base flood elevation and which contains nothing which could be damaged by a flood. The first livable level of the house is above the base flood elevation. What level of the house and under which conditions should be considered to calculate a flood (FEMA) insurance premium?
Thank you,
Stan
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, if there is a basement that can be accessed, whether it is livable space or not, the basement is counted in calculation of FEMA insurance, because the area can still flood and cause foundation damage and can require remediation/repairs.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I guess I should provide you provide you with some more details about our house if they make a difference in your answer – about 2 thirds of the house is with a crawl space and the remaining part is “the basement”. I placed it into quotation marks because even though its floor is lower than the crawl space, it’s not much different – it’s less than 5’ tall so there is no way to be there straitened up. That leads me to ask you: What is a regulatory background (definitions and their citations) for a “crawl space” and a “basement”?
What could be done (legally and/or technically) in order to lower our flood insurance premium?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If it is crawl space it is not considered living area, but again, because it can flood and be damaged, it is still used in your flood insurance calculations. That is what the insurer is looking at in the premium calculations.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please take look at my questions in both my messages again – as you can see, they are:
- What is a regulatory background (definitions and their citations) for a “crawl space” and a “basement”?
- What level of the house and under which conditions should be considered to calculate a flood (FEMA) insurance premium?
and
- What could be done (legally and/or technically) in order to lower our flood insurance premium?
I don’t consider them being answered.
I assume you have seen my choices for the answer urgency and detail, however, let me mention them again – I’d selected NO RUSH and also IN-DEPTH. Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Okay, here is the FEMA guideline for lowest floor space and it is quite long so here is the link: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/nfip/manual201105/content/07_lfg.pdf
It explains about crawl space and basements and which level is the proper level to be considered by the insurer in evaluating premiums.
As far as your question about lowering your premium, the issue is we are not insurance agents, so we cannot tell you how to reduce the premium. We can give you the link on the regulations and guidelines FEMA uses to make their determinations, but as far as lowering rates you need to discuss that with an agent/broker, not attorney.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I’m not getting answers which I need. Please opt out of my question since I want to open it to other experts. Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I am opting out of your question because you are not reading the information provided, including the link with the information that specifically address the above in detail. Best wishes.
Expert:  J. Warren replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I am a new contributor here as the prior expert has opted out of the question. I am not sure what more information you are seeking as Law Educator provided you with the correct answer and resources. However, let me see if I can provide you with an answer, while you may not agree with FEMA or like, which states it in a way you find satisfactory enough to provide a positive rating.

The rule is, if a crawlspace, whether livable or or not, is below the elevated level of the house (that is the first floor), and the foundation walls are not designed for entry and exit of flood waters, it can not be excluded for rating purposes. "An elevated building with an enclosure or crawlspace below the elevated floor with proper flood openings (flood vents) in the enclosure or crawlspace can be rated using the elevated floor as the lowest floor. (For elevated buildings with proper flood openings in an unfinished enclosure or crawlspace, the Application should indicate “No” for enclosure.) " source www.fema.gov/pdf/nfip/manual201105/content/07_lfg.pdf

The criteria is the construction of the foundation wall that encloses the crawlspace is engineered to allow waters to flow in and out without destruction to the area.

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