How to Get a Home Elevation Certificate

If your home is at a high risk of flooding, you should consider elevating your home. This can protect your home and family from floods and natural disasters by lifting your base floor from ground level to a safe height based on your location. If home elevation isn’t something you can afford or would need some assistance paying, you can always apply for a FEMA Elevation Certificate (EC).

An Elevation Certificate is an administrative tool used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to inform mitigation actions that will lower flood risk, and support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove a building from a high-risk flood area. The EC lists a building’s location, lowest point of elevation, flood zone, and other characteristics. Under Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, an EC will no longer be required to purchase coverage. Instead, FEMA will use its tools and resources to determine the first-floor height of a building as one of the factors used when calculating rates.

Obtaining an EC could be valuable to a homeowner. A property owner may choose to provide an EC and submit it if they’re looking to lower their insurance. ECs will continue to be used for floodplain management building requirements, which can affect eligibility for Community Rating System discounts.

Due to living in a high-risk area, you can apply and receive an elevation certificate so the price tag that comes with home elevation isn’t a barrier when it comes to your protection. An Elevation Certification is needed to know your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height that flood waters will reach in a major flood. This helps provide a true and accurate picture of the status of compliance with flood ordinances to help determine your flood risk, and the cost of your flood insurance premium.

The process to getting home elevation insurance is easy, and Samson Lift is always available to help you throughout the process. The first thing you need to do is contact your local floodplain manager. If your home wasn’t new when you bought it, there’s a possibility a previous homeowner filed for an elevation certificate and there’s one on file for your property. Even if you did buy your home new, the home builders might’ve started the process for you so you should always start by checking to see if there’s already a certificate on file. Every community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a floodplain manager, although depending on where you live, that person could have a different official title or serve in multiple capacities. To get started, call your town or city government and ask for the floodplain manager or the person who handles Elevation Certificates for your community.

In Texas, you can also contact a registered professional land surveyor (RPLS) or professional engineer (PE) that is licensed to practice in the State of Texas, who is qualified to provide you with the Elevation Certification service. If you have a copy of an Elevation Certificate for your property, or eventually obtain one, most cities and towns request that you provide a copy to the Engineering Department for its records. Most cities and towns throughout Texas participate in FEMA’s voluntary incentive program called CRS (Community Rating System) that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed NFIP requirements. As a part of the CRS, participating cities and towns are required to keep records of any Elevation Certificate that it obtains a copy of. This helps reduce our community’s flood insurance premiums for property owners throughout the state of Texas.

Once you make contact with your floodplain manager, they will be able to walk you through the rest of the process and secure your Elevation Certificate for you and your property. If you’re having trouble locating your local floodplain manager, you can contact your state’s floodplain management office. The state floodplain manager can also be referred to as the NFIP state coordinator.

If you think your property might already have an Elevation Certificate, contact the sellers. When you’re buying a property, or after you purchased a property and you have the seller’s contact information, ask them to give you their Elevation Certificate, if they have one. If they don’t have one, ask them to provide one before purchasing the property.

If you did build new on the property, another way to get an Elevation Certificate is by asking the developer or builder. Often, in a high-risk area, the developer or builder might have been required to get an Elevation Certificate for your property at the time of construction. You can also check the property deed. Sometimes an Elevation Certification will be included with the property deed, depending on the requirements where you live.

You could also hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information. These professionals can help complete an Elevation Certificate for you and potentially provide more valuable information about your property.

The process of hiring a professional surveyor to complete the certificate should not take more than a week or two, depending on your location. Examples of professional surveyors include a licensed land surveyor, engineer or architect who is authorized by law to complete an elevation certificate. FEMA recommends finding a professional surveyor by checking your state professional association for land surveyors, asking your state NFIP coordinator or talking to your local building permit office.

Although you may not need an Elevation Certificate depending on where you live, it could be a vital asset for you and your family in lowering your flood insurance and obtaining the proper funds from FEMA to assist with a home elevation if you decide to elevate your home to protect from flooding. The only time you would be required to provide an Elevation Certificate to your insurer is when your property and flood insurance purchases meet the three following conditions: Your property purchase is financed by a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender; Your property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, defined by FEMA as an area at high risk for flooding; You are purchasing a flood insurance policy backed by the NFIP. You should be aware that private insurance companies will often offer flood insurance in their name that is ultimately backed by the government, making it public, rather than private, flood insurance.

If any of these conditions do not apply to you, you are not required to obtain an Elevation Certificate. However, there are exceptions to the Elevation Certificate requirement for certain high-risk structures. If your building was constructed before your community established a flood insurance rate map, you may be eligible for a subsidized flood insurance rate without an elevation certificate requirement. The subsidies are intended to help property owners afford flood insurance despite the fact that their building wasn't constructed while incorporating comprehensive flood regulation measures.

It is recommended you talk to a flood insurance agent or insurer about how the NFIP calculated your premium, but keep in mind that your premium will be the same no matter your insurer, as rates are set by NFIP through a standardized methodology.

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