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Before The Flood

Russell Hammond - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Word Wednesday - Elevation Certificates


If you are a home owner or soon to be one, you probably have received a letter from your mortgage company requesting flood insurance. When calling your insurance company for a quote, you find out that an Elevation Certificate must be provided. Dare you ask, “What is an Elevation Certificate? How or where do I get one of those?”

This is a document that is used to verify the elevations of your building and the FEMA base flood elevation for your property. The elevation certification is an important part of rating your building to determine the cost of flood insurance because it shows the depth of water on your property if a flood occurs.

Explained in a way that actually makes sense:

This document is about six pages long and it’s very common to become overwhelmed with all the information included in it. To make sense of what you are looking at on an elevation certificate, let’s break it down.

First, an elevation certificate is needed when buying or selling property and is used for flood insurance rates. This is an important step to do before settlements takes place.

Next, is when land surveyors come into the picture. Give a local surveyor a call requesting an elevation certificate. It’s important to inform the surveyor if there is a key code to access your property. Why is this information important? Surveyors are not magicians and cannot just appear in a locked garage. There will be no jumping fences or gates to get to your property. Please let them in. You are not required to be there at the time of the survey unless you have an attached garage that is locked. Please inform the surveyor if you have a crawl space or an attached garage when you are calling. This is important because of specific measurements that must be documented such as the square footage of the area. If there is equipment such as a water furnace or duct work located in the crawl space and attached garage it must be measured by the surveyor.

After you speak with a surveyor they will visit your property to record all the information needed. Once back in the office, they take the field notes and fill out the elevation certificate. This involves documenting what flood zone FEMA has placed your property in. The land surveyors must note how many flood vents are installed in order to meet the standards set by the FEMA requirements. The certificate also requires visuals of the building, meaning that the surveyors will include pictures of the building from each side, in color, on the certificate.

Some key factors land surveyors take a look at:

What zone is your property located in?

What is the Base Flood Elevation?

Do you have a crawl space or attached garage?

If so, how many flood vents are there and what is the square footage?

How many floors does your building have?

Finally, you will receive your completed Elevation Certificate. If you need this by a certain date, please, specify that when speaking with the land surveyor when you order it. Once you receive your certificate, you can move ahead with the flood insurance company of your choosing.

There you have it. No mess. No stress. That was easy enough. The next time you need an elevation certificate you will be well prepared.


Terms You May Hear When Inquiring about an Elevation Certificate

Rating – The cost for one year of flood insurance premiums.

100-year Floodplain – Area that is flooded during the 100-year flood, which is the flood that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded during any year.

FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) map showing areas of flood hazard 9100-year floodplain) for a community.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE) – Refers to the elevation of the 100-year floodplain and can be determined for a specific property using the Flood Insurance Study Profile Maps.

Here at Russell Hammond Surveying, we specialize in Elevation Certificates. You can check out all the services we offer and if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at our office.





Licensed in Maryland & Delaware. Specializing in Worcester County, MD & Sussex County, DE
Maryland License #21329 • Delaware License #S6-0000781