Caution: Building in a Wetland Can Be Hazardous to Your House

“Build your house in a wetland, and you’ve got a hobby for the rest of your life,”. “You will be fighting that water forever.”

A student of flooded basements and cracked foundations, Perry knows what he’s talking about. While investigating illegally filled wetlands in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the biologist has visited plenty of houses built where water naturally flows and has commiserated with sorrowful owners of sodden split-levels. The lesson, says Perry, is that home builders who tamper with even small wetlands can have big problems.

The trouble Perry uncovers should never take place. Wetlands are superb at purifying polluted water, replenishing aquifers and harboring wildlife. But they are almost always terrible places to build houses.