Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to Raise a Family in Connecticut

This past weekend, we took a drive along the shore in Milford, CT, where we were stopped cold by a sight we don't see every day:

A handful of existing houses are in the middle of serious reinventions, most likely due to the devastation wreaked by Sandy last fall. Much of Milford's shoreline falls within a Coastal High Hazard Area, defined by FEMA as an "area subject to high velocity wave action from storms or seismic sources." That means that any home within such a zone that "was substantially damaged or is being substantially improved" must be elevated so that the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member rests at least as high as the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). How high the structure sits relative to the BFE affects the  amount of the homeowner's flood insurance premium.

In this case, it appears that the house has been lifted off of an existing foundation, which was compacted with dirt. Four Jenga towers of wooden cribbing temporarily elevate the house more than a story in the air until piers can be built below. While small steel beams act as a belt around the midsection of the cribbing, it appears that the joists of the lower floor are supported by built-up wooden beams--of 4x4s, 2x8s and other miscellaneous lumber. For an overview of various methods for lifting houses, look no further than this FEMA manual. Discussion of the method used in the phone above begins on page 104 (page 17 of the PDF).

UPDATE: Just as an addition to the above--evidence of new construction on the same road employing the elevated living strategy. The house features an uninhabited ground floor with a car port, so that all living spaces are located above potential flood levels.

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