Flood Savvy

House Elevation Step One: Chimney Removal


Flood Savvy
Chimney removal for house elevation

Today marks the official start of our “operation house lift” project. It has been almost a YEAR in the making with many details, reports, surveys, blueprints, and bids to sort through. The planning phase has been very involved and tedious.

Our house has endured several flood events. Opting to elevate the hosue was not our first  line of defense, but it will be the last. After we lift it, our house will no longer flood. It is a big decision to decide to elevate a house. But ,the peace of mind it brings is worth it. 

After the first big flood event, we relocated the furnace and hot water tank to an attic space above our garage. Our “basement” at that time was a traditional basement, in other words, it was entirely underground. Below you can see a picture of our basement when it still housed the furnace and hot water tank. 

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View of basement with mechanicals still in place.
The “first” step involved (and by first, I mean of the actual construction phase) is to remove the internal chimney. This chimney was used to vent our hot water tank, not the fireplace. 
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Mechanicals have been removed, but the chimney is still in place.
 

Remvoing a chimney is far more involved than I thought. It has to be taken apart piece by piece requiring a patch to the roof, a patch to the attic floor, opening up the walls of the second floor and opening up the walls of the kitchen – all to gain access to it. Wouldn’t it would be great if you could remove a few pieces and the rest of the chimney would fall down into the basement, sort of like the children’s game “Don’t Break the Ice?”

But that is not how it works, as my contractor has assured me.

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The chimney is a pile of ruble after being dismantled.

The entire basement will be backfilled. There is no need to ever have a basement in a floodplain. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) you are not permitted to have a basement at all: 

“If you are elevating a house that has been substantially damaged or is being substantially improved, your community’s floodplain management ordinance or law will not allow you to have a basement, as defined under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP regulations define a basement as “any area of the build- ing having its floor subgrade on all sides.” If your house has such a basement, you will be required to fill it in as part of any elevation project.”

FEMA

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