An elevation certificate is an important document required by many mortgage lenders, insurance companies, and local building departments. This certificate verifies the elevation of a structure about the base flood elevation (BFE) — the height water is expected to reach during a base flood. The BFE is determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
What Are Flood Elevation Certificates?
Elevation certificates are issued by licensed land surveyors, professional engineers, or registered architects. The body issuing the certificate must have evidence that the structure was built to meet or exceed the minimum elevation requirements. The certificate must be signed and sealed by the certifying professional. It is generally valid for the structure’s life unless changes could affect the flood elevation.
An elevation certificate aims to help prevent flood damage by making sure that a structure is built above the BFE. If a structure is below the BFE, it is at risk of being damaged or even destroyed during a base flood.
Why Are Elevation Flood Certificates Needed?
Elevation certificates are needed to:
Get a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live in a high-risk flood zone and your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance, you will need an elevation certificate to get coverage.
Determine the proper amount of flood insurance coverage. Your premium is based on the elevation of your structure concerning the BFE. The higher your building is above the BFE, the lower your flood insurance rates.
Obtain a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F) from FEMA. A LOMA or LOMR-F removes your structure from the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on the flood map, which means you will no longer be required to carry flood insurance. To get a LOMA or LOMR-F, you will need an elevation certificate that shows your structure is above the BFE.
Comply with local floodplain ordinances. Many communities have regulations that require new construction and substantial improvements to be built above the BFE. An elevation certificate is often required to obtain a building permit.
When Do Elevation Certificates Expire?
Do flood elevation certificates expire? Elevation certificates do not generally expire, but they may become invalid if changes are made to the structure that could affect the flood elevation. For example, if a building is raised or lowered, an updated certificate would be needed to show the new elevation of the BFE.
It’s important to note that even a slight elevation change can make a big difference in flood insurance rates. If you’re unsure if your certificate is still valid, you should contact the certifying professional or the local building department.
It is essential to always check with your local building department or the certifying professional to ensure that your elevation certificate is still valid. If it is not, you may need to get a new one to continue complying with local ordinances or obtain flood insurance.
Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. can help you do just that. We have licensed land surveyors and professional engineers who specialize in floodplain management. We can help you determine if your certificate is still valid, and if not, we can provide you with a new one. Contact us today to learn more!
Categorised in: Civil Engineering