Elevation Certificate quantifies risk of Flooding in a Special Flood Hazard Area
Prove low risk of flood in a Special Flood Hazard Area with an Elevation
Certificate

If the Pre-FIRM home does not qualify for a LOMA, it will generally be tested against the criteria for a useful
Elevation Certificate.   This does not eliminate the requirement for Flood Insurance by changing the zone, but it
does indicate a reduced risk of flooding within the same Special Flood Hazard Area.

Elevation Certificate BFE Variation by Zone
If the home qualifies for a LOMA, it is unlikely that the client will wish to pay twice, once for an Elevation Certificate,
and later for a LOMA, so we consider the Elevation Certificate the consolation prize.

There are various Special Flood Hazard Area Flood Zone types.  The test is different for some.  

Axxx indicates an inland flood zone, while Vxxx indicates a tidal impacted flood zone

“AO” indicates a sheet of water, generally with a depth of flooding provided.   To get an Elevation Certificate
requires the
carefully defined “Lowest Floor Elevation” be above the “Highest Adjacent Grade” by at least the
depth of flooding when the difference is expressed in whole feet.   This means 0.5ft difference which rounds in the
clients favor to 1 foot meets the requirement for a 1 foot depth of flooding.

“AE” indicates moving water and is associated with contours to allow an interpolated “Base Flood Elevation” .   If
the “Lowest Floor Elevation” of your home is within 0.5 foot of or is above the “Base Flood Elevation” and you meet
a few other tests, you can get a significant reduction in your rate.  Each additional foot increases the savings,
within limits.  If your home is higher than your neighbors, it stands a better chance, but the elevation may be such
that none or all
in your neighborhood will be safe from flood water of the elevation specified.   

“AH” indicates slower moving pond of water, with a "Base Flood Elevation" often constant for a large area,
though some such zones have elevation contours.  If the “Lowest Floor Elevation” of your home is within 0.5 foot of
or is above the “Base Flood Elevation” and you meet a few other tests, you can get a significant reduction in your
rate.  

“A” indicates they think it will flood but are providing less help to determine a Base Flood Elevation.   If we can
determine the “Base Flood Elevation” using one of a number of methods they have approved, and  the “Lowest
Floor Elevation” of your home is within 0.5 foot of, or is above, the “Base Flood Elevation” and you meet a few
other tests, you can get a significant reduction in your rate.  The chances of easily determining the BFE and
removing a structure in this zone is not great, but is often possible with extra effort.

There are other zones, but not so common.

Pre-FIRM / Post-FIRM
Homes built before the initial Flood Insurance Rate Map for their community are considered Pre-FIRM.  Those built
after are considered Post-FIRM.    The rates for Pre-FIRM homes were formerly held low since they were built
before the rules were published.   “Low” is not a good description for today’s Pre-FIRM rates. Post-FIRM homes
must comply with the rules, thus an Elevation Certificate is required to rate a Post-FIRM home.  If the Elevation
Certificate indicates it was built according to the rules, then a low rate is applied.  If not, a punitively high rate is
often applied.  A Pre-FIRM home which has an Elevation Certificate to indicate it meets the Post-FIRM rules can
use the Post-FIRM rates to save a significant amount.

Bottom Floor Elevation
For a home with a slab floor, this is the slab elevation.  For a raised home, it is the lowest elevation of the
crawlspace floor or basement floor or floor elevation surrounded by an enclosure.

Next Floor Elevation
For a home on a slab, it is irrelevant.  For a home built with a crawlspace or a basement or above an enclosure, it
is often the first living floor above the crawlspace or basement or enclosure.

Lowest Floor Elevation
For a home with a slab floor: “Lowest Floor Elevation” is the Garage Slab elevation unless the garage has proper
openings, in which case it is the lowest living floor elevation.

For a home with a crawl space: “Lowest Floor Elevation” is the crawl space floor elevation unless the crawl space
has proper openings in which case it is the Garage Slab elevation unless the garage has proper openings, in which
case it is the lowest living floor elevation.
 Those are the rules, but in practice it seems the garage openings are
ignored in many cases.


Proper Openings
"Proper Openings" for a garage requires you include only openings that are fixed open (or will open due to
pressure or buoyancy in a flood) and whose bottoms are within 1.0 foot of the adjacent grade next to the opening.  
Total the area of the qualified openings in square inches and compare that to the garage slab area in square feet.  
If you have more square inches of openings, than square feet of slab, the garage is said to have proper openings.

"Proper Openings" for a crawl space requires you include only openings that are fixed open (or will open due to
pressure or buoyancy in a flood) and whose bottoms are within 1.0 foot of the adjacent grade next to the opening.  
Total the area of the qualified openings in square inches and compare that to the c
rawl space area in square feet.  
If you have more square inches of openings, than square feet of crawl space, the crawl space is said to have
"Proper Openings".

It is sometimes beneficial to have additional openings cut into the crawlspace below the home or more likely into the
garage, then have u
s generate an updated Elevation Certificate showing "Proper Openings".

Adjacent Grade, Highest and Lowest
The adjacent grade is measured within 1 foot of the point where the foundation meets the adjacent dirt or concrete
sidewalk or whatever is adjacent to the home at grade level.  If these numbers are inconvenient clearly due to
erosion or to a temporary pile of foreign material, restoration may be in the client’s best interest.  One client
removed his sod, thus dropping his adjacent grade to an inconvenient level.  We reviewed the site again after the
grass was restored.   Water coming off the roof around a faulty gutter had cut a serious rut in the dirt adjacent to
another home.   We will discuss any such problems with the homeowner.
 

Elevation Certificate Risk-Reward
You risk nothing.   We risk a few minutest to a few hours to determine the status of the property and to look at it
for disqualifying features, then measure various aspects, stopping as soon as it becomes probable that there will
not be a good result.   If it appears the Pre-FIRM home will qualify for a useful Elevation Certificate, or the home is
Post-FIRM
and the Elevation Certificate is needed with good news or bad, we will collect the data for the Elevation
Certificate.

The reward for an Elevation Certificate for a Pre-FIRM home is not as good as for a LOMA, but it will generally
result in a serious (often an over  $1,
200 premium is reduced to below $450) reduction in the cost of flood
insurance.  The reward for an Elevation Certificate for a Post-FIRM home is the Insurance Agent can provide an
accurate quote saving the Lender from buying a
n over $200 per month Flood Insurance policy or not funding the
loan.

Elevation Certificate Process
Pre-FIRM home: You tell us what you are currently paying and agree to pay if the cost drops by our Local fee or
some other mutually acceptable threshold.  You give permission to access the site.  We determine your flood zone
and other information about your home.  We take on-site measurements and photographs.  We may need access
inside the garage to note the water heater stand and note the central heating configuration.  We analyze the data
and fill in the Elevation Certificate form.  Once we have the form completed and reviewed, we present the form to
the client’s insurance agent
along with other documents to help the agent request a lower premium.  The Insurance
Agent generates a quote using the Elevation Certificate
, the other documents, and some help dealing with their
central office processes that we have studied, learned to manipulate
.  The Elevation Certificate alone is not
enough for many homes with crawl spaces.
The agent tells us and the client the resultant price: with and without.
The client pays the agreed upon amount if the threshold was met, otherwise the client may choose pay or re-
negotiate the agreed upon amount, or not pay and to return all copies of the Elevation Certificate but only if the
Insurance Agent agrees to retract the use of it.   We retain the right to present accurate quotes with and without
the impact of the Elevation Certificate.

Post-FIRM home: You give permission to access the site.  We determine your flood zone and other information
about your home.  We take on-site measurements and photographs.  We may need access inside the garage to
note the water heater stand and note the central heating configuration.  We analyze the data and fill in the
Elevation Certificate form.  Once we have the form completed and reviewed, we present the form to the client or the
client’s insurance agent.  Payment is due.

Grandfather Treatment
If your home is currently in a Special Flood Hazard Area and was built Post-FIRM not in an SFHA, we can generate
a document and lay out the process for your Insurance Agent to get some of the benefits of the previous zone.   
The charge for this type of Elevation Certificate and supporting documents is a
lso No Risk: the process will save
enough to pay itself within a year, or you may unwind the use of the documents and pay us nothing.

There are a few other cases where Grandfather rules will help.


A home with a basement which qualifies for this Grandfather treatment will benefit from this type of Elevation
Certificate while most homes with basements cannot benefit..
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