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Construction of Crawlspaces in Buildings Located in Special Flood Zones

Jeffrey Havelin, PE

This one-hour course is based on the FEMA construction guidelines for crawlspace foundations used for residential buildings, which are located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs).

Crawlspace foundations are commonly used to elevate the lowest floors of residential buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). This course provides guidance on crawlspace construction and supports a recent policy decision to allow construction of crawlspaces with interior grades up to 2 feet below the lowest adjacent exterior grade (LAG), referred to as below-grade crawlspaces, provided that other requirements are met. Prior to that decision, below-grade crawlspaces were considered basements under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Floodplain Management Regulation definitions at 44 CFR 59.1 and were not permitted below the BFE. This requirement has been established because below-grade crawlspace foundation walls are exposed to increased forces during flood conditions, such as hydrostatic and saturated soil forces.

In many parts of the country, a common practice is to construct crawlspaces with the interior floor 1 or 2 feet below-grade by either (1) back-filling against the exterior of the foundation wall or (2) excavating the crawlspace area to construct footings that result in a below-grade crawlspace floor. Because FEMA wishes to recognize common construction practices that do not increase flood damage, FEMA recently completed a review of the policy for residential crawlspace construction. In this review, the construction practices for below-grade crawlspaces were examined to determine whether a crawlspace that was 1 or 2 feet below grade would increase the flood damage potential to the foundation walls or result in additional damages to the building.

This course is based entirely on the Technical Bulletin (11-01) as published by the FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, publication number FIA-TB-11.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.