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Guidelines to Building Resiliency 1-4 Family Homes

Table of Contents Flood Zone Definitions Wet Floodproofing Managing Basement Flooding and Plumbing Issues Mechanical Systems Flood Insurance Resources

Fifth Avenue Committee’s Rebuilding in Red Hook and Gowanus Initiative is made possible with support from the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Citi Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, & United Way of NYC.

V.1 - June 2014

Through its Rebuilding in Red Hook and Gowanus Initiative, Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc. provides guidance to Hurricane Sandy impacted homeowners, small businesses and nonprofits. This includes helping homeowners navigate the road to recovery and make informed decisions on constructing more resilient buildings. More than 30% of Sandy impacted homes that are expected to undergo retrofits are 1-4 family homes. This guide focuses on suggested resiliency measures for 1-4 family homes.


The capacity to recover quickly from setbacks The ability to spring back quickly into shape Guidelines for Building Resiliency contains a summary of resiliency improvements drawn from the PlaNYC’s Special Initiative of Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), Urban Green Council’s Building Resiliency Task Force, NYC Department of City Planning’s Flood Resiliency Text Amendment, NYC Department of Building’s Appendix G, American Society of Civil Engineers 24 Flood Resistant Design and Construction guide and FEMA’s Coastal Residential Construction Standards Technical Bulletins

Information surrounding building resiliency is being updated as new data and tools become available. Please reference the brochure online for the most up to date information at: The examples presented should not be used directly as the basis for carrying out any mitigation work. Homeowners should consult a licensed design professional before carrying out any work, and should obtain all required permits.

Resiliency planning is a combination of measures taken to minimize the risk of losses in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. Example of Flood Zone Map for Red Hook and Gowanus, Brooklyn

Source: FEMA

To access your home’s flood zone and Base Flood Elevation go to:

Important factors to be aware of in determining your home’s risk of flooding: Flood Zones are geographic areas that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk and type of flooding. Flood Zones are divided into VE (100 year flood plus waves), AE (100 year flood), and X (500 year flood) (these differ from the NYC Evacuation Zones). These zones are depicted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) provide an official depiction of flood hazards for communities and properties located within the flood zones. Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during a major flood event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year (ie: 100-year flood). The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. Freeboard is the distance between the lowest floor in the home and the BFE. NYC adopted a freeboard of 2ft above the BFE. Design Flood Elevation (DFE) is the elevation adopted by NYC zoning and building codes. Calculated as the height of the BFE + Freeboard of 2ft.

Source: NYC SIRR Report

Wet Floodproofing Wet floodproofing is a resiliency method that addresses increased flood risk and the need to adapt buildings to become more resilient in the event of a major flood. It consists of methods that allow water to enter and leave a building. Wet floodproofing is often relatively less costly than other mitigation measures. Its important to point out that, residential buildings that were substantially damaged (as defined by FEMA) and located in Flood Zone A must be wet floodproofed below the DFE.

Flood Vents Wet floodproofing involves the installation of flood openings and vents that allow water to automatically enter and leave a building. The openings should be located below the DFE and on at least two sides of the building.

WITHOUT Wet Floodproo

Why wet floodproof? A homeowner would want to wet floodproof their building to prevent the buildup of pressure on the walls causing a potential collapse. Wet floodproofing might not be the best option for every building and use. Acceptable areas are non-residential uses such as basements, sub-floor crawlspaces, parking garages, storage areas, and some commercial areas.

WITH Wet Floodproo

Flood Resistant Materials Buildings that use wet floodproofing techniques should also use flood-resistant materials in rooms located below the DFE and might experience occassional flooding. To prevent mold and decay it is advised to use flood-resistant materials such as: •Marine grade plywood, decay resistant redwood, black locust, or cedar •Cast stone or cement board with flood resistant mortar is acceptable for protecting walls and ceilings •Metal doors, cabinets and window frames, as well as glass brick windows are acceptable •All hardware used should be made of stainless or galvanized steel FEMA’s Flood Damage-Resistant Materials Technical Bulletin goes into more detail on specific materials



Source: NYC SIRR Report

Managing Basement Flooding and Plumbing Issues NYC’s Combined Sewer System New York City has a combined sewer system, where both stormwater and wastewater travel through the same pipes. So when it floods this combined, untreated sewage can backup into the basements of floodprone areas. Sewage backup can be a significant health hazard.

Implementation recommendations that address basement flooding: •Seal up gaps in basement structure by injecting epoxy grout waterproofing at the cellar slab and walls. •Install watertight cellar doors to prevent drainage from the street into the basement. •Dig a trench channel around the perimeter of the interior cellar, sloping to the sump pit. This will help to navigate basement flood waters to the sump pump.

Installation of Sump Pump and Backflow Preventer Installation of a sump pump and a backflow preventer can help mitigate against the sewage backflow from the street sewer lines into a basement during heavy rains and extreme flooding. Backwater Valve/Preventor is a one-way valve that is installed on a building’s lateral sewer line that connects the home to the public sanitary sewage system. They should be installed in the building drain at its point of exit from the building and downstream of the building trap. Some lines to consider adding a back flow valve are washing machine drainage lines, sewage lines and sinks.

The Department of Building’s Post-Sandy Response After Sandy, NYC Department of Buildings revised the building code and now requires that plumbing systems located below the DFE need to be protected with automatic backwater valves or other automatic backflow devices (Local Law 83/13).

Watertight cellar doors Trench Details Gravel

Inject epoxy grout to seal gaps

Perforated Pipe

Trench Channel


CLOSED POSITION Prevents surcharge from backing up into the building

Splash Pad

OPEN POSITION Permits normal opertation of building sewer connection



Weeping tile connected to sump pit

Sewer Connection


Mechanical Systems Water damage to mechanical systems is one of the most costly repairs after a flood. Heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing appliances, plumbing fixtures, duct systems, and electrical equipment (service panels, meters, switches, and outlets) should be raised above DFE. Not only is replacement an issue to deal with, there is also the potential for fires caused by short circuits. Raising mechanical systems helps to avoid these problems.

Options for relocation include:

Enclosed structure in backyard

Mechanical equipment is permitted in any side yard or rear yard as long as it is located above the Design Flood Elevation (DFE). Equipment must be located at least five (5) feet from any lot line and should also be screened on all sides by walls consisting of at least 50% opaque materials. Location of the equipment in the yard is limited to a maximum of seven (7) feet from the building and no more than 10 feet above the DFE.

Elevated platform

When using a platform to elevate mechanical equipment, the top of the platform must be above the DFE. It is also important to maintain proper clearance between the top of the mechanical equipment and the ceiling to ensure accessibility for proper maintenance when needed.

Prevent loss of power by installing home generator system Loss of power is a very common result of a natural disaster. Losing power can not only impact your typical electricity needs, but it can also impact pipes bursting in freezing temperatures and further flood damage due to sump pump not working. Options include a portable generator or a fixed generator. It is crucial to locate the generator in a safe location that does not have a chance for damage in a disaster. There are a number of guidelines to follow with generator installation, be sure to check local code.

Relocation within building

Mechanical equipment, including electrical components potentially can be relocated within the building above the DFE. All standards shall meet NYC Building Code requirements. All mechanical space above the DFE will be exempt from floor area calculations.

Relocation to roof of building

Before any equipment is relocated to the roof of buildings, structural integrity should be tested as to verify that the building can sustain the weight of the mechanical system. Accessibility and enclosure standards related to the roof or elevated structures must meet NYC Mechanical Code standards section 306.5.

Flood Insurance The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federal program created to provide flood insurance to people who live in areas at great risk of flooding. Insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners. As of May 2014 the flood insurance rate maps are in the process of being updated by FEMA. If your building’s current flood zone is X, and under the new maps it will be in flood zone A, it is recommended to get a flood insurance policy now. If you wait until the new maps are adopted, your policy will cost you the actual price associated with the property’s flood risks based on the new flood zone boundaries, which could cost you a difference in thousands of dollars. Flood insurance is required if: •Home is in Flood Zones AE or VE AND you have a government backed mortgage •Rebuilding with NYC’s Build it Back program •Received FEMA aid for personal possessions, you will not receive future aid unless you have insurance The relationship between the BFE and a structure’s elevation is the primary determining factor in rating the cost of a flood insurance policy.

Building in resiliency measures might be costly up front, but they can produce sustainable and lower costs for flood insurance rates over the long term.

Construct new addition above

Relocate mechanical and electric above the design elevation

Flood vents

Elevation Certificates An elevation certificate is required by the National Flood Insurance Program to certify the reference level of a specific building within a flood zone for insurance rating purposes. The certificate contains: accurate determination of Flood Zone and BFE; ground elevations adjacent to structure foundation; elevation of lowest storage level, living area and mechanical equipment. The certificate must be completed by a land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is licensed by the state of New York.

Townhouse Retrofit, Proposed National Flood Insurance Program Compliance Approach This is an example. Not all the actions may apply in all cases. Some additional actions may be appropriate.

w lightweight e existing roof

cal equipment

Allow access to new top story

Rewire electrical components at ground level Reconfigure water and natural gas piping

Use only flood damage-resistant materials below first floor Fill in basement per FEMA guidelines See Technical Bulletin II Construct new access stairs

Source: NYC HRO, Post-Sandy Housing Reconstruction Analysis

Further Resources Financial Assistance Through partnerships with other organizations, Fifth Avenue Committee can help connect you to a variety of financing resources to do rebuilding work on your building. Resources include grants to low and moderate income homeowners, low-interest loans and others as new assistance programs are created. Foreclosure Prevention Neighbors Helping Neighbors, an affiliate of Fifth Avenue Committee provides free foreclosure prevention counseling. Many homeowners are struggling with unaffordable payments and damages caused by Sandy. Neighbors Helping Neighbors advocate on your behalf for loan modifications and can help you explore other resources to avoid foreclosure. Disaster Case Management Providing New Yorkers who have unmet needs related to Sandy with a locally-based disaster case manager to serve as their single point of contact. Those that are ineligible for FEMA or other assistance programs are still eligible for the DCM program as long as they have a verifiable unmet need related to the storm, regardless of their immigration status.

Links Fifth Avenue Committee FEMA’s Flood Damage-Resistant Materials Technical Bulletin 2 National Flood Insurance Agent Locator NYC Department of Buildings Find a Licensed Professional NYC Department of Buildings Rebuilding NYC After Sandy

Call a Housing Recovery Coordinator at Fifth Avenue Committee to be connected to additional resources and for assistance with the recovery process: 718-237-2017 ext. 187

Things to keep in mind when working with rebuilding professionals: Licensed Electricians, Plumbers and Contractors A licensed professional has met minimal requirements for their line of work as required by New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Typically, any work that requires a building permit also involves a licensed contractor Architects and Engineers You would want to use a licensed and registered architect and a licensed professional engineer to oversee structural and design work including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and storm drainage systems. You will need the services of an architect and engineer whenever work is being done that requires approval of a government agency, which requires plans to be signed off by an architect and engineer.

NYC Department of City Planning Designing for Flood Risk NYC Department of City Planning Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment NYC Housing Recovery Office Urban Green Council Building Resiliency Task Force Special Initiative Resiliency Report

Please contact a Housing Recovery Coordinator with questions: Neg Lakew (718) 237 - 2017 ext. 187 Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc. (FAC) is a community development corporation in South Brooklyn that advances economic and social justice by building vibrant, diverse communities where residents have genuine opportunities to achieve their goals, as well as the power to shape the community’s future. Formed in 1978, FAC works to transform the lives of over 5,500 low- and moderate-income New Yorkers annually so that we can all live and work with dignity and respect while making our community more equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and just. To achieve our mission, FAC develops and manages affordable housing and community facilities, creates economic opportunities and ensures access to economic stability, organizes residents and workers, offers student-centered adult education, and combats displacement caused by gentrification. Created by: Cody Bachu, Renée Crowley, Neg Lakew

Fifth Avenue Committee’s Rebuilding in Red Hook and Gowanus Initiative is made possible with support from the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Citi Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, & United Way of NYC.

Resiliency Brochure  
Resiliency Brochure