June Key Message: Get A Building Permit When Constructing in Flood-Prone Areas

Building permits ensure safe construction in Tulsa’s flood-prone areas.

The City of Tulsa’s permitting process is designed to ensure that new construction and substantial improvement projects are reasonably safe from flooding. A permit is required for all new construction and for most repair projects located in the floodplain to ensure that the proposed development meets the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the City’s adopted building codes. Before you begin construction or add on to your existing building, find out which permits are required by contacting the Development Services Permit Center at (918) 596-9456 or online at https://www.cityoftulsa.org/permitting. Buildings in the floodplain are valuable investments and must be protected from flood damage. To help protect your home, Tulsa’s building code requires that all new residential buildings be elevated at least one (1) foot above the regulatory floodplain elevation. Non-residential buildings may be elevated or dry floodproofed a minimum of one (1) foot above the regulatory floodplain elevation.

Property owners planning substantial improvements to existing buildings should contact the Permit Center for assistance with the appropriate building permits. Elevation or floodproofing may be required if you are planning to construct a substantial improvement such as a new addition or a remodel. When the cost of the improvement or add-on is 50 percent or more of the market value of the existing building, the project may meet the substantial improvement development requirements.

Permits also are required for building repair for anything more than just cleanup after a storm. If your property is substantially damaged (where the cost of restoring the building to its previous condition is 50 percent or more of the market value of the building), federal regulations may require you to elevate or floodproof before you can rebuild or begin repair work.

Even if you’re not constructing a building, a watershed development permit must be obtained from the City of Tulsa before commencing any grading, filling, or excavation in the floodplain. Activities outside of the floodplain but within a natural or constructed watercourse may also require a permit.

In addition to regular building permits, special regulations apply to construction within the floodway portion of the floodplain. No construction, including filling, is allowed in the floodway without an engineering analysis that shows the proposed project will not increase flood levels and cause damages elsewhere.

To find out if your property is located in the floodplain, contact the City’s Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or (918) 596-7777 with the address, parcel and legal description of your property and a free flood zone determination will be sent to you. Additionally, detailed floodplain boundary maps are available for you to view at Tulsa-area libraries, and City Hall, 175 E. 2nd St., 4th floor – Permit Center or online at https://www.cityoftulsa.org/government/departments/engineering-services/floodcontrol/floodplain-map-atlas/ To report illegal floodplain development or to verify that proper construction permits have been issued for a project, contact the City’s Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or (918) 596-7777. An inspector will establish a case to investigate the complaint.

In partnership with the City of Tulsa, the Disaster Resilience Network shares these monthly key messages from the Program for Public Information as part of the National Flood Insurance Program – Community Rating System. This outreach assists our community in keeping low flood insurance rates. Tulsa property owners and renters are eligible to receive up to a 40 percent discount on flood insurance rates.

Tim Lovell