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Can I build in a floodplain or renovate existing structures in a floodplain?

There is no simple, single answer to applies to all property in or near a floodplain.

Whether you can build or renovate in the floodplain depends on:

   1) Where the property is in the floodplain
   2) If the building's floor is above the required elevation
   3) The cost of renovation compared to the value of the existing structure.

     Construction site

Keep in mind:

  • Building codes are different in the floodplain than outside of the floodplain.
  • A special permit is required before any floodplain construction takes place to make sure it complies with the additional regulations.
  • Floodplain development restrictions apply to grading, new construction and some renovations on floodplain property.

To get approval to renovate or repair a structure in the floodplain, you need to know:
     1) What is the required elevation for a building in that part of the flood zone?
     2) Is the floor of my building below this required elevation?

Buildings below the required elevation are at a higher risk of flood damage. For that reason, there are restrictions on renovations.


If the cost of repair or construction is greater than 50% of the value of the structure, then the entire building must be elevated above the projected flood level or otherwise modified to meet current flood code.

If a number of renovations or construction activities are done over time, the value of that work must be counted together over a ten year period. When you add together the value of various smaller construction projects done over time, the sum must be below 50% of the current building's value. If not, the entire building must be elevated or changed to meet current flood code.

What is defined as the lowest floor elevation depends on the foundation type.

Floodplain Construction FAQ's

Applying for a Floodplain Development Permit

After elevating or otherwise modifying the building to meet flood code, an
Elevation Certificate must be completed and submitted by an engineer, architect or surveyor registered in the State of North Carolina. The FEMA Elevation Certificate must be submitted and approved before electrical power can be turned on.

Flooded house    Same house after it was elevated above projected flood height 
Flooded Mecklenburg County house       The damaged house could not
simply be repaired. To meet 
current flood code, the living
area of the house also had to
be elevated.

Check with Storm Water Services before you grade, renovate or build in a FEMA Floodplain or Community (Future) Floodplain.

Storm Water Services' Floodplain Permitting Office:
704-432-RAIN (7246)