Rebuilding a Commercial Building After a Flood

Rebuilding a Commercial Building After a Flood

Businesses need to protect their commercial building from the increasing threat of floods, regardless of their location. Flood protection includes obtaining flood insurance and utilizing flood-resistant design and materials like Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs) to construct a commercial building.

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In the U.S., floods cause more damage than any other severe weather event, costing an average of $5 billion a year, damaging and destroying businesses, manufacturers, public buildings — anything in the flood’s path. Most areas of the country are experiencing increasingly devastating flash, urban, river, and coastal flooding due to warming temperatures, poor urban planning, and deforestation.

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Is Your Commercial Building at Risk of Flooding?

Traditionally, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps have guided building owners where and how to construct a commercial building to limit the risk of flood damage. The maps also indicate if you will need flood insurance. Unfortunately, these maps may significantly underestimate the actual physical and financial risk of flooding to some areas. Furthermore, FEMA maps do not take into account intense rainfall, an increasing problem as the atmosphere warms.

Fortunately, First Street Foundation offers a more precise, up-to-date map for determining your building's actual risk of flooding. Calculations by First Street Foundation acknowledge sea-level rise, rainfall, and flooding along small creeks (not mapped federally), estimating 14.6 million properties at risk of a 100-year flood — far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on FEMA maps. First Street Foundation found that some of the biggest jumps in flooding risks occurred in non-coastal areas.

Why Buy Commercial Building Flood Insurance?

Commercial property flood insurance protects business owners against losses due to a flood by providing the financial means to repair or rebuild.

Commercial property flood insurance protects business owners against losses due to water damage from heavy rains, storm surges, broken levees, or dams, snow, etc. Buildings in high-risk flood zones must buy commercial property flood insurance with a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender. However, due to the unpredictability and intensity of flooding, all commercial businesses should acquire flood insurance, even in low- to moderate-risk zones. FEMA reports that people who live outside of high-risk flood areas file more than 25 percent of the flood claims, nationwide.

The financial devastation of a flood on commercial buildings goes beyond structural damage. Flooding can shut businesses down for days, weeks, or for good. In addition, floods can destroy your inventory and damage valuable machinery, company vehicles, computers, and valuable documents, costing thousands of dollars to replace.

Where to Buy Flood Insurance?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by FEMA, allows business owners in participating NFIP communities to buy federally-backed flood insurance, providing up to $500,000 of coverage for the building and up to $500,000 for its contents. In addition, businesses can purchase insurance (excess insurance coverage) to cover rebuilding properties valued above the NFIP, vital for protecting your business against interruption and financial devastation.

Rebuilding Commercial Buildings After a Flood

After a flood subsides, building owners must make the difficult decision to repair, rebuild, or move. If you want or need to remain in the current location and can’t fix the building, you’ll need to rebuild.

For commercial buildings located in whole or in part of a flood hazard area, you must design and construct according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Flood Resistant Design and Construction, ASCE 24-14, the reference standard in the 2021 International Codes® (I-Codes®) for flood-resistant design and construction. The ASCE 24 gives the minimum requirements and expected performance for the siting, design, and construction in flood hazard areas.

Vital features for flood-resistant design in flood hazard zones include:

  • Elevated buildings

  • Building materials that can get wet

  • Systems that quickly dry when exposed to water

Building a Flood-Resistant Commercial Building with Fox Blocks ICFs

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In all flood zones, constructing a commercial building with Fox Blocks ICFs will significantly help protect your building and its contents from intense and devastating floods.

Fox Blocks' solid, monolithic concrete walls provide moisture-resistance and permeability (perm rating below 1.0), ensuring that moisture that enters the wall assembly dries out before moving on to nearby materials.

The reinforced concrete construction won't degrade when wet, and will maintain its original shape and integrity during and after a flood. In comparison, moisture quickly and easily accumulates in walls of wood-framed buildings because the methods that stop water from entering a wall may also block the moisture from leaving the wall, leading to unhealthy and structurally damaging mold.

Fox Blocks ICFs meet the ASCE 24 guidance for a flood damage-resistant material: durable, moisture-resistant, and mold- and mildew-resistant.

Fox Blocks ICF Flood-Resistant Commercial Buildings

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Rebuilding a commercial building with Fox Blocks ICFs, according to the ASCE 24, will exceed the minimum requirements of the NFIP. Commercial building owners should invest in NFIP insurance regardless of the flood risk zone, protecting themselves from the unpredictable and intense floods that can shut their business down and destroy inventory.

Contact Randy Daniels, Western US Business Development Advisor or D.C. Mangimelli, Eastern US Business Development Advisor for more information on rebuilding a commercial building after a flood.