Topo Lines and Site Expense

I’m looking at a lot today and some of the issues surrounding a new build began to go through my mind.  All identifying information is removed, other than the rough

elevation lines from the GIS system here in Nassau County.  Elevation can be costly in several ways.  First, areas prone to flooding require the finished floor at or above a specified elevation just to buy flood insurance without a premium.  The municipality also requires minimum elevations.  If you look at the image, an AE 11 Flood zone on this lot, might require 5 or more feet of stem wall, parking underneath the building or a “LOT” of fill dirt.  It all adds to cost, but there are other issues.  If you don’t fill, consider where the driveway works.  Do you want to drive downhill?  This lot looks like 6 to 7 feet below a roadway.  The foundation and site work become expensive, but might also dictate the location of driveway and seriously increase cost.

Beyond fill, some lots require backfill or removal of organic material below the soil.  It is prudent to consider the possibility and, if in doubt at all, have soil testing done before closing.  There could be high water content, clay or organic material in the soil.  Off-grade foundations might be prone to mold, when built in low elevation areas with high water content in the soil.   A good engineer can help, but buyers need time to test and should consider the cost to use a lot as much as they consider the purchase price.

Finally, check the current flood zones.  FEMA zones in the Fernandina area change in August.  You may remain the same, but some parcels are seeing a dramatic change.  Some parts of South Fletcher are moving from X to VE 11.

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