Raising an existing house on piles (also called piers) so that the lowest level is safely above the flood stage sounds like a complicated job—until you stop to envision what it would take to rebuild a life after a total washout. In fact, in high-risk areas, proving that your house meets your local building authority's base-flood elevation (FEMA's 100-year-flood-zone determination) is often the only way for homeowners to qualify for insurance and building permits.
One reason that rebuilding after a storm can be so frustrating is that FEMA is presently revising its flood-zone maps in response to rising sea levels. Community-based regulations, which are drawn up using FEMA guidelines as minimum standards, are being revised as these new minimum guidelines are published. To make sense of these changing regulations, FEMA recommends that homeowners work only with experienced engineers and contractors licensed in the homeowners' state.
Shown: One year later, the home is raised to its new height on temporary cribbing, awaiting permanent pile supports.