Home Elevation FAQ

 

As the City undertakes home elevations by utilizing FEMA grants there are a number of questions that the city frequently receives. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email us.

How have homes been chosen for an elevation?

There are about 165 homes that have been identified for potential elevation. These homes are ones that have flooded multiple times and ones that are most susceptible to future flood events even after other flood mitigation projects, such as the expansion of the E100 branch of the bayou, the berm around the golf course, and street drainage improvement projects are completed. The list was created using data from FEMA and the Long-Term Flood Recovery Plan.

 

Is my home on that list? 

Please call us at 713-466-2109 or email us to find out if your home is on the list. 

 

If my home is on the list when will it be elevated?

Based upon the competitive nature of the FEMA Grants all homes will not be applied for until November 2030. That could very based upon a number of factors outside the city control. There is no guarantee for any home to be included in a grant application in any given year. The City will communicate with all potential home owners if their home is selected for a home elevation. 

 

Of those homes why have you chosen some for elevations and not others?

A preliminary benefit cost analysis was done for all those homes. A benefit cost analysis is a process used to measure the benefits of a home elevation (i.e. savings to the flood insurance program) minus the costs associated with doing the elevation. A BCA involves measurable financial metrics such as costs saved as a result of the decision to pursue a project.

 

The result of a BCA is a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR). A project is considered cost-effective when the BCR is 1.0 or greater. A BCR has a value of 1.0 when the costs and benefits equal. If the value is greater than 1 the benefits are greater than the costs. If it’s less than 1 then the costs of the project are more than the benefits of it.

 

With any application the city submits the maximum number of houses we can apply for and reasonably expect to be funded is about 20 homes. That means it is going to take about 7-10 years of applications to apply for everyone.

 

The BCA information from each home was used to put all the homes into groups so that each group would be over a 1.0. That came out to 9 different groups of homes. The homes that have a BCA of less than 1 need to be mixed into a group that has homes of a BCA higher than 1 so that all the homes combined have a BCA or higher than 1.

 

Is it just costs and benefits that are looked at for the BCA?

FEMA does have a “Benefit Cost Ratio – Standard + Additional” category. The additional includes things like social benefits, the number of volunteers that are required to help muck out houses after flooding, and how many people in the homework outside the home. The additional only comes in to play if the standard BCR is over 0.75. In our initial analysis we only look at the standard amounts. When those additional benefits are added in for homes, we can usually achieve a BCR of around 1.2 or 1.3.

 

Were people notified if the city did a BCA on their home?

Generally, people were not informed if the city did a BCA on their home. We used private data obtained from FEMA and the Long-Term Flood Recovery Report along with public data obtained from HCAD to do it. When a group or groups of homes are moved into the actual application stage, we reach out to the people in those groups to gauge their interest and to obtain the rest of the information required to submit a grant application.

 

What is a general timeline for home elevations?

Here are the general timelines that have occurred in the past. This does not mean the timelines are the same for future years but is meant to give an estimate of how long it takes.

The City will submit the application to the state in November.

The state will submit the application to FEMA in late January.

FEMA should identify applications for further review in late May. (This is the first step in the approval process.)

It could take anywhere from 10-20 months for final approval to be given. That means the award would not be final until March – December. This is 16 – 26 months after the city submits the initial application to the state.

Once the award is final it will take about 4 months for home owners to select contractors (the city pre-qualifies contractors, and homeowners select one of the pre-qualified ones by the City), for contractors to come up with specifications for the exact work to be done.

Once that is done it takes about 4 months to get the funding for the first half of the homes to be elevated. It’s takes roughly 3 months for a home to be elevated.

Once 70% of the funds have been spent on elevating the first round of homes, the city requests funding for the second round of homes. It takes about 4 months to get funding from the state. It takes roughly 3 months for a home to be elevated.

In total it can take between 33 months to 43 months from application to project completion.

 

What expenses does the grant pay for?

The grant covers the following items:

·         Architectural and engineering fees associated with a design for elevating an eligible insured building

·         Permitting

·         Clearing necessary vegetation and preparing path for installation of lifting supports

·         Excavation around the dwelling

·         Lifting or jacking building

·         Temporary support cribbing

·         Disconnecting utility connections

·         Extending or modifying utility connections

·         Reconnecting utility connections

·         Constructing a compliant foundation

·         Cost associated with elevating the insured building out of a SFHA

·         Restoring the lawn (4 pallets of sod + seeding)

·         Restoring walks, driveways, and other surfaces outside the perimeter exterior walls of the insured

·         Broom brushed concrete only, no finishes

·         Contractors bonding, insurance, and warranty

 

Are there things the grant will not pay for?

The grant does not cover the following items:

·         Elevating structures that were not in compliance with current NFIP standards at the time of construction

·         Costs related to building additions or auxiliary structures

·         Construction of new decks or porches

·         Any improvements for purely aesthetic reasons, unless required by the EHP compliance review

·         Costs to replace or repair utility service components that are undersized, inadequately designed, or unsafe.

·         Exterior finish on the exposed foundation of the elevated building, unless required by EHP or local code

·         Additional landscaping for ornamentation beyond what existed on the site prior to construction of the project (e.g., trees, shrubs)

·         Superfluous warranty claims

 

 

Can I stay in my home while it is being elevated?

You cannot stay in your home while the utilities are disconnected. However, up until they are disconnected and once the utilities are reconnected you can be in your home. This time period when utilities are disconnected is approximately 5-10 days. The grant covers the following for Temporary living:

·         Only for primary owner-occupied homes

·         Daily limit based on house location per diem rate, approximately $130/night.

·         Housing only – food costs are not covered by the grant.

·         Proper receipts must be submitted for reimbursement.

 

How do I select a contract to do the home elevation?

The City will do an RFQ for home elevation companies. The city will select between 2 and 4 contractors that can do the work. Homeowners can meet with and choose one of the contractors selected by the City to complete the work.

 

Do I need flood insurance to be eligible to receive a home elevation?

Yes! You must have flood insurance on your home at the time the grant application period opens. You must maintain flood insurance throughout the elevation process and in perpetuity on the home thereafter. Failure to maintain flood insurance could result in the grant amount having to be repaid by you to FEMA.

 

What information do I need to submit to be considered for a home elevation? 

As discussed earlier the city will reach out to residents when their groups are up for consideration. However, you can still submit the required information to the city so we have it on file for future dates. The city needs a copy of your elevation certificate, a flood loss history statement, pictures the outside of your home, and a copy of your current Flood Insurance Declarations Page. You can find samples of all of those documents here.  If you do not have a copy of your flood loss history you can use this from to request one from FEMA. This questionnaire must also be completed and turned in.

Once you have all of those documents compiled you can submit them all to city hall or email them to us

 

What happens if my home is damaged or destroyed during the process of elevation?

The contractors that will do the work are fully licensed and insured. Any damage caused by the elevation would be fixed by the contractor.