Let’s Talk Elevation Certificate for Flood Zone Homes

Elevation Certificate for Homes in Flood Zones


In a small state with 400 miles of coastline and waterfront, flood plains and flood zones are part of the RI coastal real estate landscape homeowners must live with.
Let's Talk Elevation Certificate for Flood Zone Homes

Oceanfront RI

Most homeowners have never heard of the term elevation certificate but it is a term in real estate I am quite familiar with recently.  It is a tool for determining whether or not you are in a flood zone, flood plain or flood hazard zone.  All now important as FEMA is no longer subsidizing flood insurance as of the fall 2013.  
A licensed surveyor determines the elevation of your property above, at or below the base flood elevation (BFE) of your location.  Insurance agents need this elevation certificate to see where your home or business is elevation wise as compared to this base flood elevation.  It determines the cost of flood insurance for you and whether you can even get it.
Some coastal properties in high risk locations will no longer be covered by flood insurance.  If you have a home or building in a zone that is high risk (classified as an A or V zone according to insurance companies), you must have an elevation certificate done.  It is a way to challenge the flood insurance cost that is being levied against you by the insurance companies and may save you dollars in the long run.  It may also astound you to find that your costs have now become extremely costly for owning the home.
A cost for an elevation certificate runs between $400-$600 from a surveyor.  It is a sound investment in your home and financial future.  State licensed surveyors are listed with the state and can readily be found online.  Make sure you get a few quotes on the cost of obtaining one.  What you are hoping the surveyor will find is that your property is higher than the base flood elevation for your location.  When that is the case, your flood insurance cost is typically lower.  You may need to make changes in your home to reduce your flood costs or spend money for modifications (such as raising the house up above the required elevation level) to lower your flood insurance fees. [UPDATE: as of 10/2013 all RI purchase and sales agreements are required to have a Flood Insurance Addendum as part of the contract- this is a notice to all RI home buyers].
If you have a mortgage on your property you are required to carry flood insurance up to the amount of the mortgage amount.  You can not get away with not having it.  To not have flood insurance will mean you are in default of your mortgage and your bank can foreclose on your property.  This is important to understand so do not let your insurance lapse.

As a RI coastal real estate agent I understand very well the need for an elevation certificate in my coastal RI neighborhoods I service.

Insurance changes have put the burden on the homeowners who live in high risk and repetitive claim flooding areas.  Be aware of the steps you must take now to protect your property as well as to sell your home in the future.  Flood plains are not receding but increasing and all property owners in low to high risk flood zones must become proactive early.

As building requirements for your town change, so will the base flood elevations.  Talk with knowledgeable builders, your town’s building inspector and flood experts to see how your can protect your property and minimize the cost and impact of potential flooding.  If your insurance company informs you that you need flood insurance or the cost is going up on your present policy, call the surveyor immediately.  But I know you are ahead of this curve and already have that surveyor on speed dial.  Elevation certificates in flood plains are a must do.
Let’s Talk Elevation Certificate for Flood Zone Homes
Ginny Lacey Gorman is a Rhode Island coastal real estate agent who works and knows the RI geographic area of homes for sale, schools, happenings, flood plain changes and important tidbits of information well.
Coastal, water view, ocean front, luxury and waterfront Rhode Island real estate are my specialty.  If you are considering Buying, Selling or Relocating to Rhode Island and need a real estate Professional it would be my pleasure to help you!    When you are in need of an internet savvy RI Real Estate agent marketer who sells homes in this real estate marketcall Ginny today at 401.529.7849 or email at RiByTheBay@gmail.com. 


  1. Callum Palmer says

    This was a fascinating read as I had never even heard of a RI real estate flood elevation certificate until recently. However, I can see why it would be a sound investment for your home as you point out in the article. After all, it could potentially help to lower your flood insurance costs.

  2. Kylie Dotts says

    It’s interesting that some insurance companies are no longer providing flood insurance in RI high-risk flood areas. It makes a lot of sense that because of the high risk involved in insuring those properties but I also thought it interesting how you can combat that with a flood elevation certificate to show that the risk isn’t too high for your particular property. I like that there are still ways insurance companies are providing so they will be able to cover people who don’t have too high of a risk.

  3. says

    Thanks so much Larry and please share this flood plain and elevation certificate information with homeowners in your area too. Glad I could be of help.

    Ginny Lacey Gorman

  4. Larry Philipp says

    Great, insightful article on flood maps and elevations! Sharing it down here in coastal Virginia real estate too!

  5. says

    And added point is that with an Elevation Certificate in hand a homeowner can request a letter of map amendment
    (known as a LOMO) from FEMA if they are of higher elevation than originally mapped to. This can be done online at FEMA.gov. This can also result in reduced insurance costs for the homeowner which is a great thing! Ginny Gorman