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Building permits protect the residents, their families, communities, and buildings by ensuring all proposed work complies with current codes, standards, ordinances, and construction techniques. Building Permits are required for new construction or development in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).
What is Regulated and Why
All development projects in the SFHA must comply with the Title 12 DCMR - DC Construction Codes, some provisions of ASCE 24-14 are incorporated by reference, and Title 20 DCMR Chapter 31 - Flood Hazard Rules. Development is defined as any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, streets and other paving, utilities, filling, grading, excavation, mining, dredging, drilling operations, storage of equipment or materials, and the subdivision of land. It includes interior work such as replacement of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components.
Floodplain development is regulated to protect life, safety, and property; to protect the important environmental functions of floodplains; and to ensure the District’s continued eligibility for federally subsidized flood insurance and disaster relief through participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Nationwide, buildings that are constructed in agreement with NFIP building standards experience about 80% less damage annually than those that do not meet the standards.
How Our Review Process Works
The Permit Service Center at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is the first stop for your building permit application process. Applicants with projects located in a regulated floodplain will need to submit documentation to DCRA through ProjectDox and to DOEE through the Surface and Groundwater System. DCRA and DOEE will review and approve the permit in accordance with the Flood Hazard Rules and the Construction Codes. Applicants will need to address and revise the plan accordingly to obtain the approval from all agencies before the building permit can be issued by DCRA. To learn about some of the technical terms you may encounter during the permitting process, visit our Floodplain Terminology page.
Apply for your Permit
- DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Permit Service Center
- DOEE Surface and Groundwater System (SGS)
- DOEE’s Flood Hazard Rules
- DCRA’s Construction Codes
- Floodplain Permit Review Checklist
- Encroachment Review Guidance
- Determining Costs of Improvements and Repairs
- FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Technical Bulletins
- “Floodproofing Non-Residential Buildings” (P-936)
- “Highlights of ASCE 24-14 (Flood-Resistant Design and Construction)”
- “Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding”
- “Protect Your Home From Flooding: Low-Cost Projects You Can Do Yourself”
- “Protecting Building Utility Systems from Flood Damage” (P-348)