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Old 02-11-2013, 07:22 PM   #1
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How to Fill in Basement


We have a big basement (28'x33') that got over 5 feet of water with Hurricane Sandy. We got lucky; we had no water in our house. We got the finished basement gutted, cleaned and sprayed for mold. I am still looking into this; but so far it sounds like if we keep the basement our flood insurance rates would go through the roof; which there is no way we can afford. FEMA told me that I need to fill my basement to get my house "FEMA Safe"

I don't have the slightest clue where to start. Who can I contact? I live in Union Beach, NJ. What is the process? Does the house need to be lifted? I have support beans that run in the middle of the basement. My water and gas lines are down there. Are there any websites I can look at for ideas? Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 02-11-2013, 07:46 PM   #2
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How to Fill in Basement


What exactly is FEMA safe? And who is gonna pay for the movement of your water and gas lines? Not to mention the lifting of your house, the disconnect/reconnect of the utilities and everything related to moving a house. Is it really worth it? Good luck with whatever you decide to do, I know that it will be a hard decision.


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Old 02-11-2013, 07:49 PM   #3
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How to Fill in Basement


I only know of one person that did that-----your electric panel is one of the big issues---along with the steel lally columns--and any plumbing clean outs---

What you need to know is what they consider "filled in"--My neighbor added 3 feet of Pea gravel--which left the breaker box above the gravel---new sump pits were installed to keep the gravel dry---drain piping was not an issue---I didn't ask about the lally columns.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:19 PM   #4
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How to Fill in Basement


find out if you can keep the basement. but not have it insured as a "finished" basement. and don't finish the basement. just use it for storage, pool room, or whatever. and when/if it does flood, hopefully move anything upstairs before hand. then just pump out the basement, let it dry. then back to usual.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:53 PM   #5
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How to Fill in Basement


As far as I know, finished basements aren't cover by either FEMA or NFIP in case of flooding, so as long as you leave it unfinished, I don't know why it would make a difference.

I would probably call the National Flood Insurance Program (1-888-379-9531) and ask them directly about your situation. They would be able to hopefully give you much better and more specific answers than what we can provide here.

There is a lot of confusion out there in regards to FEMA and Flood insurance, so don't listen to everything you hear on the radio or from your neighbors. Go straight to the source instead!
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:55 PM   #6
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How to Fill in Basement


Thanks for all the replies! It doesn't matter if it is finished or empty. FEMA said that since you have a basement; it could fill again with water and cause problems with the entire house. I was told my flood insurance could go up 20% each year for the next 4 years. This would bring my flood insurance to close to $10K per year compared to about $500 if I don't have a basement! I got so much to learn to make a good a decision!
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:57 PM   #7
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My electric panel is in my garage; got very luck there. The water was 1 foot away of hitting it.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:24 PM   #8
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When the neighbor filled his basement---the pea gravel was delivered in a ready mix truck---and the shoot was run into a window-----job went fast-----pea gravel is easy to move around----
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:36 PM   #9
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How to Fill in Basement


I'm sure prices up there are way higher, but down here after a hurricane one of my customers had the same issue.
It was a single story ranch.
We had Ace House Movers lifted it above the 100 year floor plain, filled in the foundation up to grade level and just added onto the old block foundation so now it's a crawl space instead of a basement.
We also had to add a flood door to the crawl space, it opens when the water rises so the water can rush back out.
Now there are not required to even have flood insurance.

I Tap Coned OSB to the exposed foundation and added several rows of siding below the old siding so the new foundation does not look so out of place.
We also had to add a steel I beam down the middle of the house.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlarnai View Post
We have a big basement (28'x33') that got over 5 feet of water with Hurricane Sandy. We got lucky; we had no water in our house. We got the finished basement gutted, cleaned and sprayed for mold. I am still looking into this; but so far it sounds like if we keep the basement our flood insurance rates would go through the roof; which there is no way we can afford. FEMA told me that I need to fill my basement to get my house "FEMA Safe"

I don't have the slightest clue where to start. Who can I contact? I live in Union Beach, NJ. What is the process? Does the house need to be lifted? I have support beans that run in the middle of the basement. My water and gas lines are down there. Are there any websites I can look at for ideas? Any help would be appreciated.
Ayuh,... If ya go to the Fema website, there's 100s of pages of ways to get yer house, Outa the flood plain,...
Or, ways to make a flood, much more survivable, with much less damages...

I've got 2 houses in that position,...
1 I'm raisin' 12', the other, I'll just keep payin' the insurance tab on...
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:24 AM   #11
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How to Fill in Basement


I'm in a flood zone in WNY and I've had all kinds of issues with FEMA and my bank trying to force the most expensive policy on me, I can't even imagine what you're going through. Lose a big part of your home, or pay $10,000 a year in FLOOD INSURANCE? FEMA is insane I don't know where they come up with their rates, but its crazy. I wish you the best of luck, keep us updated.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:02 PM   #12
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How to Fill in Basement


Thanks for the repsonses! When I called the FEMA phone number (I have called 3 times) all 3 times they tell me that my flood insurance rate is by the level of the basement and not the first floor. My basement is 7' below the new proposed floodplane.

Last night my wife and I went to our town hall and spoke with a FEMA Flood Mitigation Specialist. He told me that I should be rated at my first floor level. He has been doing this job for years and worked through Katrina. While I was there last night; he called the same number that I called and made believe he was a home owner with a basement. They told him that same thing they told me. He is going to do some research for me and told me to come back in 2 days,

Who Do I believe is correct FEMA or FEMA?

If I do have to get the basement filled; what type of company should I call who woud do this type of job?
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:33 PM   #13
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How to Fill in Basement


FEMA has a purpose for disaster relief as I understand, since they make emergency methods to provide quick relief, temporary housing and food immediately after a disaster.

I worked for another agency that provided disaster recovery by accessing/processing loans for owners to obtain dirt cheap low interest loans for recovery and mitigation based on what real people would do to recover, rebuild and eliminate future problems. During Katrina, Rita and other disasters, we were in there and told to wear our shirts, hats and identification to not be mistaken for FEMA people that had a different goal. We were happily greeted by home owners that wanted to get back to a real life since many did not have flood insurance for many reasons (some locally politically created). Unfortunately many home owners want to get a cheap loan and divert the money into some remodeling and additions.

Our goal was to identify the damage caused by the disaster a come up with a replacement cost based on what a real home owner would or should do. Our charge was that a home owner with a corner of a roof torn off or cheap vinyl siding stripped off at a corner would want a complete new installation because it was also a visible damage and the roofing or siding may not be able to be matched (fading/weathering) or available. Any furnace or water heater that was exposed to rising water (corrosion/electrical problems) was totaled in the real world and estimated as a full replacement. Any fiberglass exposed to moisture was also totaled because it cannot be re-used. Water inside above 12" was estimated as damage requiring new electrical fixtures, drywall to at least 4' up and complete repainting of the rooms involved. Same applied to landscaping, trees and shrubs for rebuilding. This whole concept is based on rebuilding and correcting site problems by mitigation for future events. It was not a gift for failing to have inadequate insurance.

I am not aware of FEMA having any enforceable "standards" or effects on codes. FEMA does have very good suggestions based on research done or damage to created that have been adopted in some areas as legal code requirements. The "Safe Cell" concept for tornado impact resistance is well founded by research by other professionals and has been adopted by some agencies that have the legal power to make people avoid mistakes. I don't think FEMA has the power or authority set insurance rates, since that is up to the insurers and there choice if they choose to do business in an area with poor preparation on a large scale.

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Old 02-14-2013, 05:48 AM   #14
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How to Fill in Basement


Back in '72 huricane Agnes came thru our area and caused a lot of flooding. Several low lying areas that never saw flooding had 10'+ of water. Areas near the river had extensive flooding that carried a lot of silt and mud into basements. Most people were able to clean them out and get on with life. Others decided that it was not work thi and had them filled in. I know of one house that did this and it was done wrong. They moved the electric service panel out of the basemenr as well as the water and gas meters. Gas was relocated to the outside and the water was located into a closet near the front of the house. What they failed to do however was to address the drain plumbing. Appearantly they left something open, posibly a floor drain or a washing machine hookup. A lot of dirt seems to be getting into the line. Could also be a broken pipe somewhere. They had it scoped but the maze of pipe under the dirt is quite extensive now.
Another issue is the water that migrates into the old basement and can't get out very well. The old basement acts like a dirt filled pool holding water. It was suggested that when they filled it that they remove the old floor but, they did not want to do that work. The house is always musty and the crawlspace alway seems real damp. The dirt almost seems muddy when you feel it.

thinking about how I would aproach this if it were me I would open up several holes in the floor to allow any accumulated water out, fill it with pea gravel and install a sump pit to the bottom just in case. I would cover the gravel with heavy plastic as a vapor barrier and seal it well. I would also consider having the plumbing re routed so that all of the hookups for the various drains are accessable and a cleanout installed somewhere accessable for posible future needs
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:22 AM   #15
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How to Fill in Basement


Quote:
Originally Posted by jlarnai
Thanks for the repsonses! When I called the FEMA phone number (I have called 3 times) all 3 times they tell me that my flood insurance rate is by the level of the basement and not the first floor. My basement is 7' below the new proposed floodplane.

Last night my wife and I went to our town hall and spoke with a FEMA Flood Mitigation Specialist. He told me that I should be rated at my first floor level. He has been doing this job for years and worked through Katrina. While I was there last night; he called the same number that I called and made believe he was a home owner with a basement. They told him that same thing they told me. He is going to do some research for me and told me to come back in 2 days,

Who Do I believe is correct FEMA or FEMA?

If I do have to get the basement filled; what type of company should I call who woud do this type of job?
The FEMA flood manual says the basement floor. See chapter 7 here: http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=6713

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