Different jurisdictions along the coast of South Carolina have different criteria for elevated pools. The criteria is dependent on the regulations of the city and state, and also on FEMA regulations based on the flood zone the proposed home is in. On Sullivan’s Island we are working on a design for a forever dream home that will allow our clients to age in place. Like many of our forever home designs we wanted to have all of the homeowner’s living space on one floor, including same-level access to a pool. This not only adds huge recreation value, but is a key feature in the design for aging in place and maintaining access if there are any future limitations in mobility. The alternative being an inground pool with a flight of stairs down.
As will all new builds on Sullivan’s, we were required to design an elevated home. However, we could not build an elevated pool on the selected lot. The lot had a FEMA designation of VE16. Sullivan’s Island does not allow any elevated pools in VE Zones. They are only allowed in AE zones. In other jurisdictions, elevated pools are allowed in VE Zones, but the pool has to be built high up enough so that the underside of the pool is above the flood height. This often ends up with an awkward arrangement as the edge of the pool can be several feet above the height of the deck level. Ultimately these rules are in place to protect the homeowners and adjacent property and buildings, but for our design, we needed to explore the alternatives to safely build the pool at the level we wanted.
We knew that FEMA intended in the future to reduce this lot from a VE to an AE flood zone. However, the timeline was unclear and the potential impact to the project timeline and design was too great. We decided that a LOMR would be our best bet to more quickly change our designation to from a VE zone to an AE.
We engaged a specialist engineer to do a detailed assessment to determine if the property would be eligible for a change. They made conservative calculations and even these showed the property was not at risk. The owner was thrilled! So we took the results of the analysis and research and submitted the assessment with a Letter of Map Revision request–also known in the industry as the LOMR process.
After starting the process and being nearly six months in, we received the news we’d been waiting for. We were approved! We received the designation change from FEMA we were seeking and were able to have the property changed from VE16 to AE15. Our homeowner’s dream for an elevated pool became possible! We immediately submitted the structural design.
Below is a picture of the pool build in process.