• Text Size:
  • A
  • A
  • A

Planning, Development & Building ConstructionFloodplain and High Hazard Zone Regulations

Because we are developing on a barrier island, we are prone to certain hazardous conditions that require extra measures during construction. These measures involve areas of the Island prone to flooding and high winds.

Floods and Flood Zones

The Town of Hilton Head Island participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to ensure that Federal flood insurance is available to all residents in the community. This program requires construction techniques that minimize flood damage within the areas subject to the risk of periodic flooding as delineated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS). It is referred to as the 100 year floodplain and covers more than 80% of the Island. Zones in the floodplain designated as "A" are subject to rising water with moderate tidal flooding and moderate wind. Zones designated as "V" are subject to strong winds and waves more than 3 feet in addition to tidal flooding.

A0-30 Zones

Any structure, including manufactured homes, built or placed in the "A" zones must be elevated so that its lowest floor is at or above the base flood elevation (BFE). All electrical receptacles and devices such as heat pumps, air conditioners, hot water heaters, and plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, tubs and showers must be elevated above the base flood elevation. Propane gas tanks must be elevated or firmly anchored to foundations to prevent flotation or lateral movement.

Enclosures below the BFE may only be used for parking vehicles and for limited storage such as lawn chairs, lawn mowers, etc. Enclosed space below the BFE may not be heated or cooled or used as habitable space. Any space enclosed below the BFE, including crawl space must have a minimum of two openings to equalize flood forces on the walls. The total net area of these openings shall be 1 square inch for each square foot of enclosed space. The bottom of such openings shall be no higher than 1 foot above grade. Flood resistance materials must be used for all construction below the BFE.

V0-30 Zones

Any structures built in the "V" zones must be elevated so that its lowest horizontal supporting member is at or above the required BFE. Manufactured homes are not allowed in V-zones. All structures built in the V-zone must have their foundation and anchoring system designed by a professional Engineer or Architect registered in the State of South Carolina. Solid walls are not allowed below the BFE in the V-zones; lattice or screening is permitted provided they are designed to break-away. The area under a structure located in the V-zone that is used for parking vehicles must remain completely open with the exception of lattice or screening as described above. All heating and air conditioning equipment must be elevated above the BFE above horizontal supporting member).

B or C Zones

Any structure located in a B or C zone is not considered to be in a special flood hazard area. The property may still be subject to local drainage problems or other unmapped hazards. Flood insurance is available. A flood insurance policy may be required by the lender. There are no minimum elevation requirements in a B or C zone.

Wind and Coastal High Hazard Zones

Zones designated as "V" on the Flood Insurance Rate Map and commonly called "velocity zones" are areas where hazards exist in addition to coastal flooding due to high wind, storm surge and strong wave action. There are special construction requirements in these zones. Buildings must be elevated on pilings or columns so that the bottom of the lowest supporting floor structure is above the base flood elevation. The area below that floor must be kept open to allow the free movement of water under the structure. Special break away walls designed to collapse without causing damage to the building may be constructed. Propane gas tanks must be elevated or securely buried below the line of potential erosion.

Construction Permits

All structures must be constructed to minimize any potential damage from flooding and wind. Construction regulations for commercial and residential structures are contained in the current edition of the International Code Series and Title 15, Chapter 9 of the Town of Hilton Head Island Municipal Ordinance external link icon.

Elevation Certificate

To verify that a building has been properly elevated, the Town requires that a preliminary Elevation Certificate marked "under construction" be submitted after the lowest floor is in place. This form is signed by a Registered Engineer or Land Surveyor and it becomes part of the permanent Building Permit record. A final Elevation Certificate marked "finished construction" must be submitted completely filled out, signed and sealed prior to any legal occupancy of the building.

All elevation certificates that have been submitted to the Town are maintained as public record. Copies may be obtained at no cost from the Town by using the Search option below. If you are unable to find the Certificated utilizing the Search option, please use the Request option below for staff assistance or call 843-341-4625.

For properties constructed prior to 1984, submit a Freedom of Information Act request with Beaufort Countyexternal link icon.

Flood Insurance

By constructing above BFE, FEMA indicates that a homeowner can reduce their flood insurance premium by 85 % or more. Certain recent federal laws have greatly affected flood insurance over the life of the loan on both new construction and existing structures, in particular the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. For more information, go to www.FEMA.gov external link icon.