Developing in a Floodplain


Appendix K of the Virginia Beach Code of Ordinances regulates development in the floodplain. A permit is required for all construction and development (any manmade change) in areas designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). This includes, but is not limited to, building or other structures, the placement of manufactured homes, filling, grading, paving, excavation, storage of equipment or materials, or the subdivision of land. Contact Permits and Inspections for specific requirements.

Substantial Damage/Improvement​

In accordance with the Floodplain Ordinance, buildings in the SFHA may be modified, altered, repaired, reconstructed or improved subject to the following conditions:

  1. If the improvements or repairs to a structure are less than 50% of its market value, it shall be elevated and/or flood-protected to the greatest extent possible, as determined by the Permits and Inspections Department.
  2. If the structure is improved or repaired to an extent or amount greater than 50% of its market value, the structure shall conform to the regulations in Appendix K, as well as the current Virginia State-wide Building Code.

Building Elevation

All new or substantially improved residential buildings located in a SFHA must be elevated so the lowest floor (or lowest horizontal structural member for structures located in a V Zone) is 2 or more feet above the base flood elevation indicated on the FIRM. This additional elevation above the base flood elevation is called freeboard. Non-residential structures have the option of flood proofing instead of meeting the elevation requirements.


The SFHA in the southern part of Virginia Beach has been designated as a Floodplain Subject to Special Restrictions and has additional requirements regarding the use of fill. Please see Section 4.10 of the Floodplain Ordinance for more information.

Elevation Certificates

Elevation certificates are used to rate a home’s flood risk by comparing the elevation of the first floor (or lowest horizontal structural member in VE Zones) to the Base Flood Elevation found on the Flood Insurance Rate Map. An Elevation Certificate is required for all new development and substantial improvements to existing development.

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