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What is an Elevation Certificate and How Do You Get One?

What do you need to know if you live in a flood-risk area?

If you’ve just moved from an area that didn’t have much of a flood risk, you may be baffled by your new insurance requirements. Or maybe you’re simply switching insurance companies because it was time to move on. In either case, the term elevation certificate can cause a fair amount of confusion. Just what is an elevation certificate, and why would you need one?

What is an Elevation Certificate?

An elevation certificate is a document that details the difference in elevation of your home compared to the base flood elevation (BFE) of your area. For homes located in moderate to high flood-risk areas, you will likely be required to provide an elevation certificate before obtaining financing to purchase a home or to purchase homeowner’s insurance. The elevation certificate includes important information that is needed for determining a risk-based premium rate for a flood insurance policy.Your insurance agent will use the elevation certificate to compare your home’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) shown on the map being used for rating and determine the cost to cover your flood risk.
In most cases, you will not need an Elevation Certificate if you live in a low- to moderate-risk flood zone (or zones beginning with letters B, C, or X).

How Do I Get an Elevation Certificate?

If you are starting the elevation certificate procedure from scratch, check with your municipal government for any elevation information or certificate on file for your property. If none is available, you may have to contract a state-licensed surveyor, architect or engineer to prepare an elevation certificate. A surveyor’s cost can vary from $500 to $2,000 (or more). Get at least a few quotes and compare pricing carefully.

What If My Home Doesn’t Meet the Community’s Floodplain Requirements?

Local building code requirements may change over time as flood risk changes and maps are updated. Some communities may require that a home be elevated to meet minimum floodplain height requirements before approving a construction or building permit. Elevation may also be required if you are purchasing a home and trying to get approval for a new mortgage.

A home elevation company can raise your house above its current foundation and then extend the foundation to get the house sitting at or above your community’s base flood elevation (BFE) requirements. The elevation process will safely and effectively bring your home to the proper elevation, reducing the chance of future flooding. Elevation is also the key to keeping flood insurance premiums as low as possible.

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