FEMA Elevation Certificate

What Is An Elevation Certificate?

If you’re looking to buy flood insurance for your home or business, the chances are that you’ll need an elevation certificate. It may seem like another formality standing in the way of you and your dream home, but obtaining an elevation certificate is an important step in the process of insuring your property and guarantees that you comply with local laws.  

It’s important to note that not all properties need an elevation certificate. Only those that lie in areas with a high potential of flooding need one, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). At the same time, any house or property can flood, and therefore purchasing flood insurance might be a good idea regardless of where your property is located. This blog will provide the information you need to make an informed decision. 

What Is A Flood Elevation Certificate?

A FEMA elevation certificate is a formalized document that gives information about your home or business structure. This data is used to comply with local building codes and ordinances. It also determines the property’s susceptibility to flood damage. Your insurance company will use your property’s flood elevation certificate to calculate your flood insurance costs.

Your insurance company uses the elevation certificate to determine the probability of rising floodwaters impacting the lowest floor of your property. The document is issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by FEMA. The document includes this important information about the structure of your home or business. 

  • Location and Flood Zone – Each plot of land is in a designated ‘flood zone’ based on the level of flood risk as determined by the NFIP.
  • Building Characteristics – Special features of the structure such as annexes or attachments
  • Lowest Floor Elevation –  This is the most important piece of information. The lowest level of the structure will be the most susceptible to flooding. It’s usually in the basement if the building has one or in the garage. 

Do I Need A Flood Elevation Certificate?

If you are planning on purchasing a flood insurance plan through the NFIP for your high flood risk property, then you will need an elevation certificate. The certificate will indicate where your property’s elevation compares to the base flood elevation on a flood map. According to FEMA, a home at the base flood elevation has around a 1% chance of flooding every year. Your property’s elevation dictates the likelihood of flooding and largely affects your insurance rates. If the certificate proves that the lowest floor of your property clears the Base Flood Elevation level, it may qualify you for lower rates.

Additionally, if you’re planning on adding to your existing house or building a separate structure nearby, you will probably have to get a new elevation certificate.  

How Can I Get An Elevation Certificate? 

If you bought your property instead of building it yourself, there is a good chance an elevation certificate already exists so be sure to check if it does. Ask the seller of your property for the elevation certificate as it may already exist. If you can’t get a hold of it that way, the deed to the property might have one attached to it.  If all that fails, the local floodplain manager is the primary flood loss prevention authority in your area and may have a file for your property on hand. If your house was built in a housing development, the property developer may have an elevation certificate already on hand, particularly in high-risk areas.

If you’re building your property or for some reason, an elevation certificate isn’t on the books, you can hire a professional land surveyor to come to your property, analyze it and provide a new or up-to-date elevation certificate. 

What Should I Do With My Elevation Certificate Once I Have It?

To get flood insurance in a high-risk area, you will need to submit a copy of your elevation certificate to your insurance provider for a quote. 

Since 2013, Scalice Land Surveying has provided families and business owners with affordable land surveying and elevation certificate services. If you need quick and accurate land surveying with fair pricing, contact us today!

Michael J. Scalice, PLS is a licensed land surveyor with 20 years experience in the state of New York. Michael is a proud member of The New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors.

Contact us today at (631) 957-2400