Updated: Aug 30, 2018
We frequently receive inquiries about conforming to the FEMA elevation standards now, and the first question is always “Would it make more sense to just raise my existing home rather than build a new home”? That, of course, would be a personal preference with many pro’s & con’s. I’ll outline what my beliefs are, to help you make up your mind in case you decide to eliminate that annual rise in flood insurance rates that is confronting all homes below the flood plain. As a contractor I have performed both raising homes as well as new construction over 45 years, so my comments come from experience not just opinion.
Pros and Cons
The “Con’s” almost always seem to win out when weighing the idea of elevating an existing home. With soundbites, I’ll list the reasons to consider:
Expense: Raising the home and constructing a piling system is not inexpensive. I’ve seen quotes from $80,000 to over $140,000. In addition, most elect to close in the raised portion, so that cost becomes more expensive than new construction for the same square footage;
Building Codes: Almost all building departments will require that the home be brought up to the new Florida Building Code. Electric, Plumbing, A/C, Energy Codes, Insulation, and structural components will have to be upgraded. Most times remodeling is actually more expensive than building new;
Insurance Rates: It is getting much more difficult to even get insurance on older homes today. Although your flood insurance will be lower with a raised home, elevating a home does not necessarily lower all other homeowners insurance. New homes built under the new Florida Building Code do not have this problem;
Insulation / Energy Savings: It is very difficult to add additional insulation to existing walls. I advise my new home customers to construct with reinforced concrete walls for the elevated garage portion, and 2”x6” exterior walls for the living area above to achieve an R-19 value. This meets the 150
mph wind codes, and is cost effective both for construction and all future utility bills. Many homes built pre-1970 have absolutely no insulation;
New, New, New: You can put lipstick on a pig, but……. The truth is, cosmetic improvements are just that. Homes that are 50 - 60 years old are generally functionally obsolete in layout and design. Then, without gutting the entire home down to the studs (which defeats the purpose of raising a home to save money), you still have the old electric wiring, plumbing, and 8’ ceilings. Most families in their retirement years want to enjoy that new “Florida Look”.
I could go one, but that highlights the main factors to weigh when considering raising a home. It’s quite hard for me to explain that a new home is sometimes actually less expensive when all is said and done, but that generally is a reality. And, that new home not only has all the bells & whistles of today, but the increase in value generally is much greater with a new home constructed with all of the new Florida Building Codes.
GHD Coastal Homes specialize in building custom luxury homes along the coastal beach towns of Pinellas County and throughout the Tampa-Bay area. New custom homes from $300,000s to over $1.5 million (excluding lot). To learn more: call 727-954-8345, visit our Showcase Home located at 239 144th Avenue, Madeira Beach, FL 33708 or on line at GHDCoastalHomes.com
GHD Coastal Homes is a division of GHD Construction Services, Inc. A Tampa-bay family-owned company, GHD has been building new homes and developing neighborhoods since 1971. Since that time, we delivered 6,500 homes and counting to homeowners throughout Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.