Developing in the Floodplain

Developing & Building in the Floodplain
Portsmouth City Code (Chapter 14.1) regulates development in the floodplain area. A permit is required for All construction and development (any manmade change) in areas designated as floodplain areas. Contact the Department of Permits and Inspections at 757-393-8531 for specific requirements.

An Elevation Certificate will be required be submitted for the property. City staff will take measures to ensure that improvements on existing structures and new construction are consistent with current regulations. Any illegal development in the floodplain should be reported to the Department of Permits and Inspections at 757-393-8531.

Substantial Improvement Requirements
In accordance with Chapter 14.1 of the Portsmouth City Code, buildings existing in the floodplain prior to August 3, 2015, with existing conditions not in accordance with current City Code, may be modified, altered, repaired, reconstructed or improved subject to the following conditions:
  • Any modification, alteration, repair, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to a structure and/or use located in any floodplain area to an extent or amount of less than 50 percent of its current market value during a consecutive ten-year period shall conform to the VA USBC and be elevated and/or flood-proofed to the greatest extent possible, as determined by the floodplain administrator.
  • Any modification, alteration, repair, reconstruction or improvement of any kind to a structure or use, regardless of its location in a floodplain area, to an extent or amount of 50 percent or more of its current market value during a consecutive ten-year period shall be undertaken only in full compliance with the provisions of this chapter and shall require the entire structure to conform to the VA USBC.
Protecting Your Property
Floodproofing is any combination of structural and non-structural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to property, structures, and their contents. Floodproofing an existing structure is known as retrofitting. The Department of Permits and Inspections should be contacted at 757-393-8531 in order to ensure that the proposed retrofitting complies with City regulations. Examples of retrofitting include: elevating your home or business, relocating your home or business out of the floodplain, creating a levee adjacent to the walls of your structure or erecting a floodwall. For residential buildings, floodproofing of areas below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is not permitted.

The higher above the Base Flood Elevation the less risk from flood damage the lower the flood insurance premium.
Premium Explanation

Flood Mitigation


Flood mitigation involves cost-effective measures taken now to avoid the loss of life and reduce future damages to public facilities, homes, and other improved property. By implementing flood mitigation measures you may prevent future damage to your property resulting from flood and potentially lower your flood insurance premium. You may want to consider discussing mitigation options with your flood insurance agent.