House in Flood Zone. How to Possibly Reduce Flood Insurance or Remove!

Is it possible to reduce flood insurance or remove from flood zone if identified in FEMA Special Flood Zone?  Answer: Yes. It is possible.  Depends on exact elevation of house compared to official base flood evaluation.

Team Howlett was recently helping a wonderful client help sell her log cabin house in Rossville.  There was some difficulty since the house was designated in the hundred year flood zone from a nearby creek.  The exterior and interior were beautiful with 5 acres of land.  Great lighting, exposed glowing wood, and lots of room.

From a quick check with online FEMA flood maps, the property did lie in a flood zone and the edge of the flood zone appeared to butt up against the back of the garage.  The seller was paying approx $900 / year in flood insurance for many years.  Based upon the map and after talking with a local survey company, we found we had a chance to either reduce the amount of flood insurance or remove from flood zone completely.  And thus we would be able to complete the sale for our client.

We worked with Pat Jarboe from T-Bird Design Services to help us manage the entire process.

Step 1: Obtain from Indiana DNR a Floodplain Analysis.  This will get the exact official base flood elevation at the residential building.

Step 2: Surveyor needs to conduct an elevation survey at the residential building.  They will determine the exact height of the top of bottom floor, top of attached garage floor slab, lowest elevation of machinery, and lowest adjacent finished grade next to building.  Then, the surveyor will put information on an Elevation Certificate.  This certificate can be used to submit to insurance companies and lenders to help lower the amount of flood insurance is needed based on how much of the structure is above or below the official base flood elevation.

After we got the Elevation Certificate completed, we sent to the buyers.  From this certificate, the lender said that separate flood insurance was not required for them to get the loan.  Yay!  We closed on the transaction 2 weeks later.  SOLD!

So, even if you’re not selling, if may be worthwhile to do this process.  In our situation since we had T-Bird manage the entire process, the cost to get the certificate was $1500. Since the annual flood insurance was $900 / yr.  So, you would recover your cost in less than 2 years.  Caveat, there is no guarantee that the elevation survey and certificate will indicate a reduction.

This Elevation Certificate does not actually remove the residential building from the FEMA flood maps.

Optional Step 3: Submit Letter of Map Change to FEMA.  Again you can have someone manage this process for you or you can do on your own.  You would need to submit the Elevation Certificate showing all parts above the base flood level.  Even the finished adjacent grade would need to be above.  If there are parts of the grade below, you can use construction grade limestone to bring above the flood level, then re-survey.  Beware the time frame for processing these letters can be 3-6 months.  If FEMA does accept the Letter of Map Change, then the building can be officially removed from the flood zone.

We were so glad to have helped our out of town seller complete this deal.  In the meantime I learned more about how it is possible to reduce flood insurance and / or remove completely.  Another wonderful real estate day for Team Howlett.  Learn more About Us.

Login Cabin House in Rossville

Meg Howlett and Eric Howlett, Realtors, with 2018 Angies List Super Service Award




Fixing Old Homes Leaking Basement Walls

Meg and I (Team Howlett) had the pleasure to help a wonderful client sell her house in southern Tippecanoe County.  Beautiful country farm house with charm, acreage views, and lots of potential.  Of course, there are issues with older farm houses.

One of the biggest issues with older homes built with block foundations is weeping basements.  The appraisal identified an issue with the weeping foundation.  Sellers had a structural engineer review the basement.  He noted that the foundation was structurally sound but soil grading and downspout drainage near the weepage would reduce the water in the basement.

With the review from the home inspector, it was noted there were low spots next to the house and the downspout discharged right next to the house.  These contributed to the weepage in the basement.  It was an appraisal issue so it needed to be addressed.

The seller agreed to address the drainage / water weepage issues.  Now, here comes the issue.  How to address?  The engineer identified 2 issues: lot level and downspout drainage.  Sellers agreed to address the issue.  A big issue.  No.  This is a DIY project.

Need to clear vegetation and underbrush from any area to be graded.

Grading the dirt away from the house is a relatively easy process.  In this project, we used Wrede Rocks.  They have an online tool to calculate the dirt needed.  Then, they have a rental truck with dump back for easy delivery.

All you need to do is grade the dirt so it slopes 3-4′ away from the low spots.  I used a 4′ plastic level to ensure the grade sloped away.  Recommend tamping down or walking over the dirt to ensure the ground is sloping away.

Now, add the downspout extensions to move water away from the house.  With the grading and downspout extensions, you will have addressed most of any old house basement water weepage issues.  Do it now.

We added a basement casement to reduce any water penetration.  Approx cost $20.

Repairs were done by the seller, the appraisal issues were addressed and we closed. Done!  If you would like free consultation about any homeowner issues, please call Meg at 765-414-6531.

Meg Howlett and Eric Howlett, Realtors, with 2018 Angies List Super Service Award

Winterize Your House. Hose Bibs and Crawl Space Vents.

Most of the leaves have fallen.  The sky is dreary. Some houses have Christmas

Hose still attached?

decorations; yet pumpkins still exist.  And, yes, the city has put salt brine on the roads for tomorrow’s snow.  Winter is coming!  No, the dead are not attacking from north of the wall, but have you prepared your house for the cold weather.  Here are two common problems I have found looking at so many houses with buyers and sellers. 1) Not removing your garden hoses from the outside spigots and

Vents still open?

2) Not closing the vents/access to the crawlspace.




Remove Your Garden Hoses or Risk Broken Pipes!

You may or may not have used the garden hose the whole year and forgotten it hidden

Remove hoses from Spigots

behind the bushes.  But, it is about to become a means to burst your pipes in the cold weather.  A garden hose filled with frozen water becomes a heat sink to freeze the water inside the faucet pipes and cause them to burst!   Ahh, but I have anti-freeze spigots and this does not affect me.  Wrong!  Anti-freeze spigots do not work if the hose is still attached.  An anti-freeze spigot is designed to have the shutoff valve inside the house (or basement / crawlspace) to prevent water from being exposed to freezing temperatures.  But if the hose is still attached then frozen water will extend from the hose into the spigot.  The frozen water then has a chance to burst the pipes inside.  Remove your garden hoses and allow the anti-freeze spigot to work.

Anti-freeze hose bibs have the valve inside to prevent frozen water from bursting pipes.

If you leave hoses attached, the water inside the spigot can freeze and burst pipes.

Shut the Crawlspace Vents and Make Sure the Access is Shut!

Close the crawlspace vents.

If you have a crawlspace, then you have openings to keep the space ventilated in the summer to prevent stagnant air during the warm months.  Now, during the winter months, these vents and openings should be shut to prevent freezing temperatures in the crawlspace.  Similar to the hose bib issue, we do not want any pipes to freeze and we want you to spend less on winter heating bills.


Consider adding optional vent covers.


Make Sure the Crawlspace Access is Shut






Cheers, Eric.

Team Howlett Residential Real Estate,

Day after blog. It’s never too late!