Elevation Certificates

This page pertains only to properties located within the Key West city limits. A number of islands outside the city use Key West   Elevation Certificate (PDF) Opens in new windowaddresses and zip codes but are not actually located in the city like:

  • Big Coppitt
  • Big Pine
  • Cudjoe
  • Geiger
  • Rockland
  • Saddlebunch
  • Sugarloaf

Contact

Questions regarding properties in those locations should email Mary Wingate, CFM - Senior Floodplain Coordinator or call at 305-289-2866. Her office is located at the following located at the Monroe County Building Department:
2798 Overseas Highway
Suite 300
Marathon, FL 33050

When You Need a Certificate

For regulatory purposes, Elevation Certificates are usually required for:

  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • Major renovations equating to a Substantial Improvement within the regulated floodplain (view Substantial Improvement page)
  • New construction of structures within the regulated floodplain ("A" and "V" flood zones, not "X" zones)
  • Requesting a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), asking a lot be reclassified because its height is greater than the flood level for that area.

Insurance

For insurance and other purposes they are required for:

  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • If a building was built prior to 1975 (Pre-FIRM), new insurance reforms will likely require an Elevation Certificate, so the rates can be determined by exactly to what depth the building is below the flood line (BFE) for that location.
    • Due to a great number of property owners now needing Elevation Certificates, there may be a backlog to obtaining one. Order early.
  • Lending institutions usually want one before finalizing a construction loan, to ensure the building it financed was properly erected above minimum flood levels.
  • Obtain a lower insurance rate, because your house is higher than the insurance company is giving you credit for.
    • For example, homes are sometimes rated as being at ground level (slab-on-grade), even though they may be a couple of feet higher on columns. An Elevation Certificate will demonstrate the actual height of the building.

Lower Flood Insurance Rates

Updated (June 7, 2016): If your building was constructed prior to 1975, and it’s not at ground-level, having an Elevation Certificate may lower your flood insurance rates. These rates will continue to increase dramatically each year, until the subsidies for older homes are gone and the full rates are being charged.

However, without an Elevation Certificate, FEMA doesn’t know when you’ve reached the proper rate level for your building’s height, because it doesn’t know how high or low your building is elevated. As a result, the rates will continue to rise, even after they probably should have stopped increasing. If your Insurance Agent has placed an Elevation Certificate in your FEMA file, then the rates will automatically level-off when the proper rate is reached.

How to Read the Certificate

The certificate can tell you the following things:

  • The flood level for that location (Base Flood Elevation or BFE)
  • Height of the Finish First Floor (A-zones) or Lowest Horizontal Cross-member (V-zones), above sea-level
  • Height of the lowest piece of machinery (air-conditioning, electrical boxes etc) above sea-level
  • It DOESN’T show the overall height of a building. If you need that measurement, ensure you make special arrangements with the land surveyor
  • The lowest and highest points of the land next to the building, above sea-level
  • Number and overall size of flood vents present in enclosed areas below flood level and garages
  • What flood zone a building is located in

Tips

  • If you have only the front page of an Elevation Certificate, it’s usually considered incomplete.
  • Page two of the certificate, Section "D" often has important information in the "Comments" block.
  • An Elevation Certificate is only good for one building. Each building, must have it’s own certificate, if one is required.