Services: Floodplain Elevation Certificates

FEMA FIRM mapElevation Certificate Forms are issued by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and commonly require information to be stated regarding the location and elevation of a structure or building with regard to the base flood elevation in the area. The Elevation Certificate is an administrative tool used as part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with local floodplain management ordinances, determine the proper flood insurance premium rates, and support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F).

An Elevation Certificate is required in order to properly rate post-FIRM buildings (buildings constructed after the publication of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) of an area) in specific flood insurance zones. The Elevation Certificate is not required for pre-FIRM buildings ((buildings constructed prior to the publication of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) of an area) unless the building is being rated under the optional post-FIRM flood insurance rules. As part of the agreement in making flood insurance available to communities, the National Flood Insurance Program requires the communities to adopt a floodplain management ordinance that specifies minimum requirements for reducing flood losses. One such requirement is for communities to obtain the elevation of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new and substantially improved buildings, and maintain a record of such information. The Elevation Certificate provides a way for communities to document compliance with the adopted floodplain management ordinance.

Potential Removal of Flood Insurance Requirement

An Elevation Certificate is sometimes used to remove the requirement for flood insurance on a property that lies along a floodplain boundary where the structures and buildings on the property are outside of the floodplain. It is important to note that use of this certificate does not necessitate a waiver of the flood insurance purchase requirement. Only a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F) can amend a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and remove the Federal mandate for a lending institution to require the purchase of flood insurance. Nonetheless, even if a Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F) or Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) has been issued, it is ultimately up to the lending institution whether or not flood insurance will be required for a property. To read more about the Letter of Map Amendment and Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill process, please visit www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/fhm/fmc_loma.shtm at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site.

Elevation Certificate Survey Process

As part of the survey process for the completion of an Elevation Certificate, the land surveyor must become aware of benchmark points and elevations in the area in question. Typically, survey elevations for an Elevation Certificate are tied to National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) 29. Sometimes these benchmark points may be located a great distance from the project site. In these instances, it is necessary for the survey field crew to “carry” an elevation from a known benchmark to the project site. Once a benchmark is set on the property in question, the survey field crew determines building and garage floor elevations, highest and lowest grades adjacent to the building, and lowest elevation of machinery servicing the building. During the survey, photographs of the building are also taken. Once the necessary field information is collected, it is then used to fill out the Elevation Certificate form and determine whether or not a structure resides within the floodplain. Once the form is completed, it is then reviewed and certified by either a licensed land surveyor or engineer and is ready to be submitted.

The Land Surveying field and office staff of Arthur H. Howland & Associates, P.C. has a great deal of experience with the Elevation Certificate process. If you are involved in a project that requires an Elevation Certificate or are interested in determining whether or not a building or structure lies within the floodplain in hopes of eliminating the need for flood insurance,contact us at (860) 354-9346 to discuss how we can take you through the process in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Associated Documents
Floodplain Elevation Certificate -The actual elevation certificate which will certify the appropriate elevations.
Letter of Map Amendment -The Letter of Map Amendment must be completed once the Elevation Certificate is complete. This will allow FEMA to formally recognize that you will not need flood insurance. This will then be distirbuted to the holder of your mortgage so that you may cancel your flood insurance policy.
Letter of Map Amendment Instructions -Instructions on how to fill out the Letter of Map Amendment.
Managing Floodplain Development in Approximate Zone A Areas -This document provides assistance as to how properly determine floodplain elevations when speific elevations are not provided.

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