Ditmore Coastal Homes

After researching the available options, the Ditmore Coastal Homes division of Ditmore Design is applying to become a dealer for International Homes of Cedar, partnering to bring proven top quality coastal homes to New York and New Jersey.  The value proposition is to build coastal homes that will survive natural disasters, earn favorable flood insurance rates, and command superior resale values while surrounding the inhabitants with the warmth of solid, expertly executed, naturally rot resistant and beautiful cedar.  All with fabulous ocean views!

To date there have been more questions than answers for those interested in rebuilding in the New York tri-state area. [Listen to this NPR story starting 4:10 in] This page (the one you're reading) directs you to information you should have if you're considering building a new elevated coastal home, with reference especially to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Here are some things to know about FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program:
  • BFE stands for Base Flood Elevation.  Using the MSC page it should be possible to discover where the BFE is for your lot.  It may be that there are two: a current (effective) one, and a proposed (preliminary) one.  Your "community" (in most cases this means your local building inspector) has discression with respect to which to consider official, and many other things.  Ditmore Coastal Homes recommends building a full three feet above the higher of the two BFEs for your lot, in addition to conforming with local requirements.
  • You will see the terms Zone V and Zone A.  In some cases the boudaries may differ between the preliminary and the effective flood maps (FIRMs).  Both of these are zones where mortgage holders will require homeowners to carry flood insurance, and where rates are higher for homes where the lowest habitable floor is below the BFE.  If the BFE rises in the future, the new BFE will determine your insurance rate from that time forward.  Don't bank on your home being "grandfathered" - it doesn't work that way.  In addition, Zone V houses are required to be elevated and engineered assuming a wave height of 3 feet or more above the 100 year floodplane.  This usually means the structure under the house must be open to allow the force of the waves to pass.  In many cases no new construction is allowed in Zone V, so you'll probably be building in Zone A.  Ditmore Coastal Homes recommends you build to Zone V standards nonetheless.
Here's what FEMA says [ref]:

What is the Difference Between Preliminary and Effective Data?

Preliminary data are not for use, distribution, or replication until the data are finalized and labeled as effective FIRM or effective FIS Report on the MSC Product Catalog. Preliminary data are for review and guidance purposes only. By viewing preliminary data and maps, the user acknowledges that the information provided is preliminary and subject to change. Preliminary data, including new or revised FIRMs, FIS reports, and FIRM Databases, are not final and are presented on the MSC as the best information available at this time. Preliminary data will be removed and replaced once effective data are available.   

Is All Preliminary Data Available on the MSC?

Preliminary data issued after April 1, 2013 will be available on the MSC. To view preliminary data issued before April 1, 2013, contact the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) at 1-877-336-2627 or e-mail FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com.   

These are the links you'll need to find the zone designation and the effective and preliminary BFEs for your lot: