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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
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    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    15,797

    Wink And a river runs through it,..........

    Okay, so we bought this beautiful house, on an unusual 2 acre lot. The house and garage are attached by a covered bridge, that goes over the arroyo/ditch/creek that divides the property nearly in half. The back acreage is all wooded, and we will have that cleared. What I'm interested in knowing is if anyone has experience building a barn over an arroyo/ditch/creek, with the center aisle being a bridge, as that is what we're thinking of doing.

    Let the games begin.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2002
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    4,723

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    i have the barn and house on one side of the brook, and the acreage on the other. the covered bridge goes over a steep ravine which is the high point. our peacful little brook really gets going sometimes , like after the snow melt or a few dasy of rain. the sound of the water is so loud the horses get skittish and i now close the barnyard gate when the water is high, so they don;t try to swim across. they could too, too easily get swept downstream and drown, so i don;t give them the chance.
    your project sounds really cool, sort of like frank lloyd wright's falling waters, for which my farm is named.
    would love to see pics! (and will zoning allow this?).



  3. #3
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    Oct. 31, 2001
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    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Zoning isn't a problem, because there isn't any, in Texas. Or, at least, in the Houston area.

    Also, the arroyo/creek/ditch isn't natural; it was created to help the rest of the properties in the development to drain properly. According to the deed restrictions, setbacks only apply on naturally occurring creeks, etc., so we're okay there, too. The bridge connecting the house and garage is supported by pilings sunk in on either side. We plan to put concrete culverts in to support the barn aisle, as well as to facilitate drainage, and then pour (I say) or build (spouse says) the center aisle, tack and feedroom floors, grooming stall and wash rack floors and piers for stall partitions to stand on. I don't know if it's possible, but it will be an interesting project.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    MI USA
    Posts
    7,376

    Default

    Just out of curiosity, have you done high water season in your locale yet?

    You might be AMAZED at the amount of water that goes down that ditch or drains from the side fields, into it. Does the neighboring areas drain into it as well?

    You should probably make friends with the local neighbors, local folks who have been there a LONG time, to ask about water, rain, flow, high level, low levels, over a number of years in that area.

    We bought a place with a cute little ditch that ran thru the back yard. All very rustic, TAME, when we looked at it in the spring. Actually dry all summer. Sure changed when fall rains came! Little dribble of water turned into a torrent, spread out and overflowed the ditch, covered most of the back yard, side paddock. Had a SERIOUS current, as you walked down the driveway it was running over, to reach the barn. This was on a "normal" fall weather pattern. We saw even more water come spring, planned our strategy for improving things then.

    Over the years the water has been really heavy running or light, depends on the 10-20 year water cycle. Right now, water is heavy, frequent rains of quantity, lots of snow melt, so much water year round. We are on a high side of the water cycle, rivers and lakes are reaching or over their average high levels.

    I have to say I would NEVER consider building a barn over an open ditch runoff. Our bridge ALWAYS had to be put back after spring and fall rains were done. It was overlong for the summer and winter ditch water, but got floated downstream in those heavy rains.

    We finally gave up on the bridge, dug out the ditch and put in drain tubes. Used 3ft cement tubing, should have gone bigger. HOWEVER, the tube runs behind our house and the neighbor, with tube emptying into the old, open ditch of the third neighbor. He did not want to help put in the tube, so that is still unimproved. Husband and neighbor who came up with the idea, got the tubes in place, covered the tube with dirt. Ditch is now invisible, water drains quickly thru the tube, actually SHOOTING out onto the 3rd neighbors ditch from the end. Pressure of downhill flow behind it is very powerful.

    Have to say the drainage problem is improved 200%, with no regular flooding in the back yard anymore. Does flood if we get torretial rains, like the 6 inches or more in a few hours last fall.

    The County drain ditch runs into ours, than goes around the side paddock, so we do get extra water, but it mostly pools up across the road, or in the corner of the two ditches coming together, before flooding the yard. Can't get into the driveway tube fast enough sometimes. We do have a cover where the tube takes a turn, that we open if the water comes up over the driveway, so water goes into the hole.

    We ARE the lowest point, from our fields, the fields across the road, to drain towards. On our place is where the water changes directions three times, causing slowdowns in drainage. I would NOT wish that on anyone else! Our first five years were a surprise every season with the water!!

    The old barn that came with the place, had running water, from the back door to the front. Made for a lot of wasted hay on that bottom layer. We tiled around the barn, raised the floor, but they only helped a little. If it rained a lot, you would find the horses in standing water stalls. NOT something we liked finding.

    Your property sounds complicated. You REALLY need to learn more about it, and the effects of water in season, what happens on the land. You need to plan for "worst case" kind of special weather conditions. We seem to be seeing lots of stuff "we have never had happen before" situations occuring in every state. High water could wash away that new barn if you haven't built for those conditions.

    Any chance of laying pipe big enough to carry the water arroyo collects, and draining the water away from the property? I am talking 6ft tubes like the Highway folks collect water in, then covering pipe and ditch totally. I would consult an engineer, see if it is feasible. Your barn idea may not be possible on that part of the property or at all with drainage situations there.

    Sorry, I just can't feature building a barn with an arroyo down the middle, after our "cute creek" problems here. Arroyo speaks to me of VOLUMES of water all at once. Washouts, powerful water flow makes for big problems!!

    I



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2008
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    157

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    I've got to second Goodhors' advice re: really checking into the situation before doing any building. If you are not familiar with it, I think you would be really amazed at the damage water can do. We moved to TN and bought acreage/home/barn on property that has (what appeared to us) a "dry" ditch running in several places around the property (there are 2 bridges, one in the driveway leading to our home, the other on the gravel road that leads to 2 other homes plus our barn. And actually, we had a third bridge built by our house so we could get over to the horse field/barn easier).
    Normally there is no water rurnning in it - it is completely dry 90% of the time.
    It has been shocking to us, the amount of damage we've seen occur from water overflowing or from the culverts at the bridge becoming blocked with debris. It acts as a flash flood gateway at times, my husband actually saw a wall of rushing water coming down it once. We have seen damage probably 5-6 times now in the 1 1/2 yrs we've lived here. It has taken out fencing with posts concreted in the ground, ripped away culverts and railroad ties, damaged gravel road several times, and as of Friday night, actually ripped out part of the bridge and pretty much destroyed the road.
    I hope yours is nothing like ours but I would really talk to as many people as I could about it.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2006
    Posts
    1,316

    Default I wouldn't do it on a bet.....

    Ack I just saw that this is not a natural channel but a ditch built by a developer.

    In that case I'd be even less likely to build anywhere near it because ditches are often not correctly sized to convey flows and are more likely to overflow than a natural channel. Do you really want the only hard point in this ditch to be your barn walls?
    Last edited by silver2; May. 11, 2009 at 12:54 AM.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
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    9,462

    Default Or all over it . . . .

    Unless the thing is an Army Corps Special, ie a concrete lined trench, you run the risk of flooding the barn, undermining the barn or having the barn go for a ride down to the neighbors. And even Army Corps stuff gets wiped out sometimes.
    A tube under the ground, a culvert, can get blocked at the upstream end by tree trunks and other debris and then you have a big mess.

    You can do anything you want really, and for years it might be just great, but then one year you'll have a really wet year and water will be all over the place or it'll get damaged or wash away.
    I lived on a creek and the guy that came in to rip-rap and reinforce the banks for us after it jumped the banks one year said that it hadn't been that high since 1957, and our house hadn't been built yet. Great. We got lucky and the water didn't get into the house because DH was home and frantically building a dike but the yard was a total mess and the creek got a couple inches wider, scouring out the years of lawn clippings and yard debris that the previous owners had dumped over the edge.
    And I think that you'll have to buy flood insurance to cover the barn besides your regular homeowners.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,136

    Default

    If you still want to do this, contact an engineer. It's their JOB to evaluate the structural integrity of soils and foundations, assess drainage, determine load-bearing, etc. etc. etc. Disregarding the flash flood problem (haven't you heard not to camp in an arroyo in dry areas, because walls of water occur without ANY warning?), I'd be ESPECIALLY concerned that this is not a natural creek bed, which has been compacted over time, but is a recently-dug cut, still settling. I doubt you'd get a reputable contractor to build a barn there, anyway, given the eroding foundation spot, even if you get a building permit.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 3, 2007
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    5,054

    Default

    ESG, DH is an architect and a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright (we even lived in one of his houses) and Falling Water - if you want him to look at your plans let me know. We can show them to some engineers too.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
    Location
    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Default

    Thanks for all the replies. Y'all have given me a lot to think about.

    I guess a few more facts might be helpful. When I say "ditch/arroyo/creek", I think the mental picture that is conjured up is far more expansive (and potentially sinister) than reality. The ditch in question is about 3 feet wide at its widest point, and about two feet deep at its deepest. As there are several large retention ponds into which the neighborhood's ditches drain, I can't see flooding as an issue. Also, the property slopes at about 25 degrees from back to front, and the back is where the barn will be.

    More ideas? Thoughts? We will begin clearing as soon as we get our permit, and I'll have more info then.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Posts
    22,441

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    Quote Originally Posted by lcw579 View Post
    ESG, DH is an architect and a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright (we even lived in one of his houses) and Falling Water - if you want him to look at your plans let me know. We can show them to some engineers too.

    AHHH!!! I was thinking of Falling Water too! The cantilevers - is that what you're thinking?

    I LOVE the Arts and Crafts movement - we're redoing our house in that style - including using the color palette from Falling Water.

    Sigh..... how beautiful. I'm so glad to know there are other fans of this movement.

    ESG - the entire county drains through my land (not really but it seems that way). We diverted some water with buried culverts but it does require you to have some data so you can do the calculations correctly. (10 year storm, high water marks, And even then - you'll want spillovers, maybe some check dams, etc to prevent channeling. And there may be restrictions on impeding the free passage of water - those may be imposed by the development or state and local government. So check all that VERY carefully before starting any construction - just to make sure they don't consider your plans to "impede" anything.

    I would LOVE to see pictures of what you end up doing - it sounds lovely. If you want to emulate Falling Water I know where you can get a free color palette. Now that would be one cool looking barn



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
    Location
    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
    Posts
    15,797

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Just out of curiosity, have you done high water season in your locale yet?

    Nope - just moved in three weeks ago.

    You might be AMAZED at the amount of water that goes down that ditch or drains from the side fields, into it. Does the neighboring areas drain into it as well?

    I should probably have prefaced my original post by saying that this is a small property, just two acres, in a planned development with an excellent drainage system that leads into several retention ponds. Don't know if that will make a difference in the responses, or not.

    Neighbor to the south of us has the same ditch running through his property, and the water flows through his property to get to ours, then out to the channels that line the streets, that flow into the retention ponds.

    You should probably make friends with the local neighbors, local folks who have been there a LONG time, to ask about water, rain, flow, high level, low levels, over a number of years in that area.

    Excellent idea.

    We bought a place with a cute little ditch that ran thru the back yard. All very rustic, TAME, when we looked at it in the spring. Actually dry all summer. Sure changed when fall rains came! Little dribble of water turned into a torrent, spread out and overflowed the ditch, covered most of the back yard, side paddock. Had a SERIOUS current, as you walked down the driveway it was running over, to reach the barn. This was on a "normal" fall weather pattern. We saw even more water come spring, planned our strategy for improving things then.

    Over the years the water has been really heavy running or light, depends on the 10-20 year water cycle. Right now, water is heavy, frequent rains of quantity, lots of snow melt, so much water year round. We are on a high side of the water cycle, rivers and lakes are reaching or over their average high levels.

    Doesn't seem to be an issue here, since we are in SE Texas and don't have snowmelt to consider. Rain, yes, but it's usually more a case of drought concerns, than flooding.

    I have to say I would NEVER consider building a barn over an open ditch runoff. Our bridge ALWAYS had to be put back after spring and fall rains were done. It was overlong for the summer and winter ditch water, but got floated downstream in those heavy rains.

    Sorry - forgot to say that only the center aisle of the barn will be over the ditch; the stalls, wash rack, grooming stall, and feed and tack will all be on solid ground, on either side.

    We finally gave up on the bridge, dug out the ditch and put in drain tubes. Used 3ft cement tubing, should have gone bigger. HOWEVER, the tube runs behind our house and the neighbor, with tube emptying into the old, open ditch of the third neighbor. He did not want to help put in the tube, so that is still unimproved. Husband and neighbor who came up with the idea, got the tubes in place, covered the tube with dirt. Ditch is now invisible, water drains quickly thru the tube, actually SHOOTING out onto the 3rd neighbors ditch from the end. Pressure of downhill flow behind it is very powerful.

    I can imagine. That is something we will have to research, to be sure.

    Your property sounds complicated. You REALLY need to learn more about it, and the effects of water in season, what happens on the land. You need to plan for "worst case" kind of special weather conditions. We seem to be seeing lots of stuff "we have never had happen before" situations occuring in every state. High water could wash away that new barn if you haven't built for those conditions.

    Any chance of laying pipe big enough to carry the water arroyo collects, and draining the water away from the property? I am talking 6ft tubes like the Highway folks collect water in, then covering pipe and ditch totally. I would consult an engineer, see if it is feasible. Your barn idea may not be possible on that part of the property or at all with drainage situations there.

    That's exactly what we plan to do. The big, square highway culverts one sees, are what we are thinking of putting down in the ditch, and that will be the base for the center aisle of the barn.

    Sorry, I just can't feature building a barn with an arroyo down the middle, after our "cute creek" problems here. Arroyo speaks to me of VOLUMES of water all at once. Washouts, powerful water flow makes for big problems!!

    I
    How big is your property? Sounds fairly extensive. And having the neighboring fields drain into yours? Eeek. I don't wonder you feel the way you do. I'm just not sure that the same issues exist with my place. There is already a bridge over the creek, a covered one, connecting the house to the garage and driveway. That's what gave us the idea for the barn, in the first place. House has been here for seven years, and not had a problem (sellers were the original builders) with the one bridge, so we figured, why not another?
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
    Location
    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSwan View Post
    AHHH!!! I was thinking of Falling Water too! The cantilevers - is that what you're thinking?

    I LOVE the Arts and Crafts movement - we're redoing our house in that style - including using the color palette from Falling Water.

    Sigh..... how beautiful. I'm so glad to know there are other fans of this movement.

    ESG - the entire county drains through my land (not really but it seems that way). We diverted some water with buried culverts but it does require you to have some data so you can do the calculations correctly. (10 year storm, high water marks, And even then - you'll want spillovers, maybe some check dams, etc to prevent channeling. And there may be restrictions on impeding the free passage of water - those may be imposed by the development or state and local government. So check all that VERY carefully before starting any construction - just to make sure they don't consider your plans to "impede" anything.

    I would LOVE to see pictures of what you end up doing - it sounds lovely. If you want to emulate Falling Water I know where you can get a free color palette. Now that would be one cool looking barn
    I'm an Arts and Crafts fan, myself. I'd love to see your remodel when done. If it emulates Falling Water, it'll be spectacular.

    Coincidently, our house is what's commonly referred to as "Austin stone" in this area; an off-white, irregular brick that's not quite brick and not quite stone in shape. It's the Texas version of the Falling Water granite (I wish!) Really rustic, lovely, and combines beautifully with the cedar posts, cedar faux shutters and cedar/beveled glass front door. I want to do the barn facade in cedar stained wood, with Austin stone pillar trim, and a front fence of cedar stained boards with Austin stone posts. Maybe too ambitious, but hey, one must dream.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Posts
    22,441

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    The only resemblance between my teeny shack and Falling water is that there is a leak in the roof. That's the only Falling Water around here. We're just tearing down a moldy add on ugly thing made out of cinderblocks - making the mudroom a bit bigger - and then putting on a deck. Why I don't know because no one comes to visit and the skeeters are awful.

    All of this came as a surprise to me - came back from the hound show to discover Mr. JSwan had been playing on the tractor- unsupervised - and had started a New Project.

    Your place sounds lovely. Heck - who cares if its ambitious. You only live once and it goes by pretty darn fast. If it makes you happy - do it. I put brick floors in my barn. How silly and impractical. I'm a redneck, the place looks like a redneck type of place - and I've got brick floors in the aisle of my barn like it's some sort of fancy barnyard in England.

    I LOVE it.

    Congratulations and I can't wait to see pictures of your Falling Water Barn!





    Quote Originally Posted by ESG View Post
    I'm an Arts and Crafts fan, myself. I'd love to see your remodel when done. If it emulates Falling Water, it'll be spectacular.

    Coincidently, our house is what's commonly referred to as "Austin stone" in this area; an off-white, irregular brick that's not quite brick and not quite stone in shape. It's the Texas version of the Falling Water granite (I wish!) Really rustic, lovely, and combines beautifully with the cedar posts, cedar faux shutters and cedar/beveled glass front door. I want to do the barn facade in cedar stained wood, with Austin stone pillar trim, and a front fence of cedar stained boards with Austin stone posts. Maybe too ambitious, but hey, one must dream.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    Two foot deep by three foot wide? Why didn't you saaaaay so! The creek we had done was 30 something at it's widest point and 13 feet deep, not that the water level was ever up there, just once and that was enough. You are in storm drain territory with that size. If you build it amply it could be quite an elegant use of space.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
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    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Thanks! We think it can work. And it would be a very unusual barn, to be sure. And me likes unusual.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2006
    Posts
    1,316

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    I can't see flooding as an issue.
    Famous last words. Seriously.

    Because of my work I spend a lot of time at the intersection of rivers and infrastructure and I see people make this mistake all the time. 7 years is nothing in terms of flood returns- small floods are those that happen every 25 years, medium is 50 years and the "100 year flood"? 1% chance of happening in any given year. I know of channels that are normally 2' x 3' that come up 20' in a big storm. It only happens every 20 years, but it happens regularly.

    As I said above I'd be especially leary of this channel because it's artificial and the usual tells that let you know how much water can potentially come down when it rains are not there. You have literally no idea what will happen when it really gets to raining.

    And remember that floods can come both ways- what do you do if the creek backs up from below? Say a tree goes down and takes the bank with it and creates a temporary dam and water backs up 5' within an hour?



  18. #18
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    Oct. 31, 2001
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    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Well, if a flood happens here, we'll be seeing Noah and all the animals shortly thereafter.

    Seriously, we are not in any sort of flood plain, with no natural bodies of water close by. The ground is high, and slopes towards drainage. And yes, I understand that there's always a chance of something happening, but then I could go out and get hit by a bus on my way to the mailbox tomorrow; there's a chance of that, too.

    I'll know more when we get the underbrush cleared and see exactly what we have to work with. I'll try to post photos of the process. Should be fun.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 16, 2006
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    312

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    Quote Originally Posted by ESG View Post
    Well, if a flood happens here, we'll be seeing Noah and all the animals shortly thereafter.
    Sounds like you are still in the Houston area. I would definitely talk to the neighbors about whether the development had problems during all the recent Houston floods...2006, 2007, and I think there was another bad one recently. Nobody has ever expected half of Houston to be under water!

    Are you in an equestrian development? If not, make sure there is nothing in your deed restrictions that neighboring residents can complain about (if they don't like the horses). Also check local health regulations for the same reason. While there may not be any zoning where you are, unhappy neighbors will still fight anything they don't want.



  20. #20
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    Oct. 18, 2000
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    Hey - ESG - thought of something.

    I know you're not an idiot and you've probably got this all under control - but I'll mention it anyway.

    It's about flooding and your insurance policy for your new home.

    You're going to want to make sure you're covered. What you consider flooding, rising water, sewer backup, water damage - may not be the same definition used by your insurance company.

    Talk about what you've currently got built on that place and your proposed barn.

    You may need nothing, or just a rider on the policy. Or - if you do need something more - you may be able to mitigate the cost by flood proofing when you build the new barn.

    You can get an idea of what FEMA thinks of your land by looking at your flood maps. Your county GIS maps may have flood information in it already.
    If you can't find the info - holler and I'll help you find it. FEMA is updating all the flood maps using GIS data to replace the old NAV data. All that stuff - property lines, floodplains, easements - it's all being mapped out and you can layer your maps. A lot of this stuff is on-line now but it can be hard to find - or figure out if you're not familiar with mapping.

    Your mortgage company is going to refer to the FEMA maps when deciding on the flood letter. I have no idea what your place is like and I'm sure you'll have no troubles at all. But - again - holler if you'd like to see mapping info. It's pretty cool stuff - and it could be really helpful in deciding if your barn design is going to work or not.

    And - if your mortgage company insists upon flood insurance, you can lower the cost of that insurance by obtaining a LOMA - which is also not as difficult as it's purported to be. Just gotta know how to work the system - read maps - and mitigate the chance of flood/water damage to structures.

    Seriously - holler if you want mapping/flood info. Also - the engineer types that posted can give you heaps of info on design elements that can help slow water, prevent channeling, or help keep your property from turning into the Grand Canyon.



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