FEMA guidelines released in April recommend that houses in New Orleans be built at least three feet off the ground. It was a contentious decision. Some criticized it as being cost-prohibitive, while others pointed out that flood waters reached much higher than that during Katrina.
Steve Bean, vice president of marketing for the Southern Pine Council, responded to both of those criticisms. He says that houses built using raised floor techniques — similar to the ones shown below in this house in Dallas — only cost an additional $5,000 to $7,000 to build. Furthermore, “the savings in flood insurance offset the added cost of building off the ground.”
Bean also says that the massive flooding New Orleans experienced was mostly due to what he calls “man-made disaster,” rather than natural disaster. “In most areas of the city, [building] three feet [off the ground] is more than accurate, provided that everything works properly,” he says, alluding to the failure of the levees and water pumps during last year's storm.