An elevation certificate is a document that shows the elevation of a property in relation to the base flood elevation (BFE). The BFE is the calculated elevation to which floodwater is expected to rise during a base flood. The BFE is usually representative of the flooding that might occur if a hundred year storm comes thru your area. The elevation certificate is used by insurance companies to determine the flood risk for a specific property, and to set appropriate rates for flood insurance.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that properties in high-risk flood zones have flood insurance. If a property is determined to be in a high-risk flood zone and the lowest floor of the building is below the BFE, the property owner is required to purchase flood insurance. The elevation certificate is used to determine the risk level and the cost of flood insurance for a property. These risk levels are defined in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) flood maps. using historical flood data and tidal information they map out the flood zones in each neighborhood.
The elevation certificate includes information such as the property address, the location of the building on the property, the elevation of the building, and the BFE. It also includes information about the flood zone the property is located in, as well as information about any flood protection measures that have been implemented on the property.
Additionally, properties in high risk zones can manage their flood risks by restructuring their house or adding flood vents into existing structures. To employ these risk mitigating options you must consult with a licensed local civil engineer.
It is important to note that if you are buying or selling a property located in a high-risk flood zone, an elevation certificate may be required by the lender. It is in the lenders interest to find out the flood risk factors to a property they are investing in. If you're not sure if your property is located in a high-risk flood zone, you can check your property's flood zone status by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center.
To obtain an elevation certificate for your property please contact your local professional land surveyor or civil engineer. It is important to note that if a new house is being built it is advisable to get three elevation certificate. One to document the current state of the property prior to construction, a second one showing the proposed structure and the projected elevations and flood risks, and finally a last elevation certificate showing the final construction results.