With the discussion about flood insurance and properly protecting houses from flood perils, talk inevitably turns to raising buildings. This certainly seems to be the logical method of 1) reducing flood risk and 2)enabling homeowner savings by reducing flood insurance premiums. HOWEVER, in some jurisdictions, these proactive efforts may be frustrated by legislatively mandated caps on building height. Many of our beach towns have 35’ height limits for residential uses. If you keep a cap on height and increase elevation without acommodation, the building envelope gets increasingly smaller and the roof gets more flat. Is that what we want?
Both Sunset Beach and Holden Beach are contemplating changing their definition of building height to accommodate flood savings. As illustrated below, defining “building height” is infinitely more complicated than you would imagine. For example…
Height, Building/Structure: As applied to a building, means the vertical distance from finished ground level to the highest part of the building or any structure attached to the building excluding chimneys, flag poles, antennas, church spires, and necessary mechanical devices.
The vertical distance measured from ground level to the highest point of the structure
A measuring point per the following:
(1) FEMA flood area “AE”: measuring point is minus 10 ft. from the base flood elevation.
(2) FEMA flood area “VE”: measuring point is minus 8 ft. from the base flood elevation.
(3) FEMA flood area “AE” and “VE”: where the minus 10 ft. and minus 8 ft. respectively from the base flood elevation is below undisturbed soil: measuring point is the lowest original soil under the structure after the undisturbed soil has been balanced.
(4) FEMA flood area “X”: measuring point to be the lowest original soil under the structure after the undisturbed soil has been balanced.
The maximum height of structures for other than utility purposes shall be measured such as to allow for the construction of two floors, limited to 31 feet measured from the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member to the highest point of the structure.
No building may be constructed in North Topsail Beach with a height exceeding forty-five (45) feet as measured from the lowest adjacent grade of the property as established by a recent (sixty days (60)) elevation certificate to the peak of the roof.
Principal Building Height: No building shall exceed 40 feet in height. Church spires, antennas, chimneys, and similar accessories to buildings are exempt from this limitation provided that building height shall be defined below:
The vertical distance measured from a point in the center line of the street (whether public or private) adjoining the front of the lot on which a structure is to be built or improved that is an equal distance from the side lines extended to the center line of the adjoining street to the highest point of the coping of a flat roof, to the ridge line of a mansard roof, to the ridge of a gable, hip or gambrel roof, or to the highest point of a roof deck or hand rail. Elevator penthouses and necessary mechanical service equipment are
exempt from this height limitation provided they are properly screened. Also exempt are chimneys, solar panels, and church steeples. For corner lots adjoining two streets or for those lots that do not adjoin a street, the adjoining street for the purposes of this definition shall be the street which is the address of the lot. Features which increase the height of the street at its center above its average grade, such as speed bumps, shall be omitted in determining building height
Building,height of, means the vertical distance from the average finished grade at the four corners of the structure four corners to the highest point of the structure.
After reading all these definitions and methods of defining building height, BASE has determined that a more streamlined approach is needed. We are contemplating options on how to simplify what should be fairly straightforward. Have a suggestion? Give us a call at 799-2611.