Building in the Floodplain

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If not properly designed, a structure may be susceptible to flood damage or may cause flood damage to adjacent properties. Improvements or repairs to existing structures in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), such as remodels or garage conversions, require review by city building officials to determine if such improvements would constitute a "substantial improvement" as defined by Federal Regulations. Substantial Improvement is activated if the cost of the new improvements or repairs exceeds 50% of the value of the original structure.

When the work on an existing building is substantial improvement, the lowest floor of the entire building, including the existing portion, needs to be elevated above the base flood elevation or flood depth plus any freeboard required by the building code in effect.  

If improvements are not constructed to Federal standards, this may affect the ability of the owner to obtain flood insurance or a loan on the structure. Flood relief assistance funds may also be withheld if the structure is not in compliance with Federal requirements.

FEMA website has helpful information on how to protect your home permanently, which is likely your largest investment. City also has the FEMA publications available in the City library.   

All new development or substantial improvements within the City's Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are subject to the Flood Damage Prevention Code  per City’s Municipal Code 15.45.010, and are required to submit Elevation Certificates. The City's Building Code has additional requirements for building in the SFHA that may be more stringent. For complete requirements of constructing in floodplain, please contact City’s Community Development Department - Building Division by phone at 408-615-2440, or in person at 1500 Warburton Ave. Santa Clara, CA, 95050. All building construction, retrofit or repair needs a building permit. To report un-permitted construction, call the Permit Center at 408-615-2420.

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