New York City property owners in FEMA flood zones filing new alteration applications should sign off their old applications first or face the consequences.
In an effort to safeguard coastal areas from the next Superstorm, the Department of Buildings now requires property owners to abide by the strict flood-resistant requirements outlined in Appendix G of the 2008 Building Code if their building meets all of the following criteria.
- The property is located in FEMA flood zones A, V, X, shaded X, or located in FEMA’s preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) in New York City.
- Owner is filing a new alteration application on the property.
- The total value declared on all open applications is over 50% of the property’s value.
Buildings that have old applications totaling over 50% of the property value do not have to abide by Appendix G so long as they do not file another application. The rule is not retroactive.
Property value is determined in two ways as per Department of Buildings rule 1 RCNY 3606-01. First is the assessment roll option, calculated by the Department of Finance’s Final Assessment Roll. The second method is a licensed appraisal performed within one year of the new alteration application filing.
Appendix G is a rule that requires owners to raise occupiable space above flood zone levels, among other requirements. For many buildings, base flood level could be as high as 15 feet. Raising a building is a daunting undertaking that requires digging out the foundation, uprooting the building with hydraulics, laying a new foundation, and setting the structure atop the new higher foundation. Factor all the water, sewer, gas, and electricity work involved and the project is complex and expensive. Some building owners may find it cheaper and easier to demolish their building and start from scratch.
To avoid having to comply with Appendix G property owners in flood zones should sign off open applications well before filing new ones. Old applications are often difficult to close out and failure to do so means prolonging construction. The smartest approach for property owners planning to do any renovations is to sign off old applications and clean the slate for future alterations.
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