You're sitting in your waterfront Lake Norman backyard, on a quiet cove, water splashing against your seawall. You dive into 8 feet of refreshing lake.
Life is good.
You're sitting in the backyard, on a quiet cove, you notice the lack of water splashing. You walk out to dive in and theres only 3 feet of water and about 2 feet of mud where water used to be.
Life is still good, but less good... had you not known this could happen with your property.
All year long, month to month, season to season.
But don't worry, it's controlled and planned by Duke Energy. They manage the dam that controls the flow of water out of Lake Norman.
This can have a huge impact on your waterfront Lake Norman home and the lifestyle you plan on living here. Let's break down some basic information about the water level on Lake Norman.
When Lake Norman is full to the MAX, it's at 100-ft deep or "Full Pond". Anything more is considered flooding.
When Lake Norman is "Full Pond", then the water hitting your toes at the shoreline is "760" feet above sea level. This line is important for waterfront Lake Norman homes because it is the boundary where Duke Energy has control of your property vs local and state regulators.
This is the TARGET height of the water during the busy summer season (yay!). Duke wants to leave some wiggle room or major storms and increased waves from you doing cannonballs off your dock.
This is the TARGET height of the water during the slow winter season. Duke needs to room in the lake to gather winter melting snow from the mountains and spring storms.
When Lake Norman is getting very low the MIN is at 91-ft deep. Anything less is considered drought.
The length of the dock can dictate the different levels of water you’ll have to do activities in. Mostly likely the far end of the dock will be deep(er) water (enough for a boat to operate in).
You can use a topography map, or at minimum, any aerial photography to see the water shading. Notice the drastic difference from the previous waterfront Lake Norman homes.
Even though the water level is controlled, that doesn't mean it can be let out fast enough.
There are many areas downstream (and upstream) of Lake Norman and it's a complicated process managing the water.
Any waterfront Lake Norman home for sale is likely classified in a floodplain by FEMA or the local county.
Statistically, a waterfront Lake Norman home has a 1% chance of flooding in any given year (or 26% chance over the life of a 30 year mortgage). Almost all waterfront homes are in the FEMA flood zone "AE". Also called a "100-year" flood or "base flood". This 1% chance flood is the standard for flood insurance requirements and floodplain development restrictions.
Don’t worry, typically it will be for parts of the yard and not the home itself, but it’s good to verify with FEMA and local flood plain maps.
As the historical #'s show, Lake Norman has never been over 101 ft, but these protocols do exist:
FEMA and the local counties around Lake Norman have detailed flood maps for every waterfront Lake Norman home.
Notice the 3 neighbors on this map...Let's look at the details for each.
Notice the flood water overlay completely covers the home, this is a problem right? No, see the small green triangle on it?
FEMA issued an official "Structure not in Floodplain" letter saying the home is no longer in danger. This is common for a new build, the land was graded higher than the floodplain to solve the issue.
The yard gets covered in a flood, but the home is safe.
So do they need flood insurance? Not likely, the county will state: "FEMA floodplain (Zone AE) on property. Flood insurance required if the building in floodplain". Keyword "building".
Notice the flood water touches the corner of the home. But see the small green diamond now?
This means they had a survey and have an "Elevation Certificate" from FEMA stating that area of the home is not in danger. This can be achieved with a land survey to get exact measurements in those areas.
Another concern is the extreme opposite of flooding. Water levels on Lake Norman can get lower than Duke Energy would like.
This has happened a few times in the past and it is equally important to know how your waterfront Lake Norman home will be impacted.
Again, Topography Maps and Aerial Imagery
I'll save you the lecture... it's the same as everything you just read above, but in reverse looking at lower elevations.
You may want to ask yourself these questions when looking at waterfront Lake Norman homes:
Work with a partner and broker who knows how to walk you through these issues.
We're experts on buying waterfront Lake Norman homes for sale.
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