How is the value of improvements determined?

The value of improvements is based upon a total of costs of improvements made to a building within the past five years. Non-building related work for site improvements such a patios, driveways/pavers, pools/spas, irrigation, fences etc. aren’t included. For a list of costs that are included or exempt from Substantial Improvement calculations, please review the Substantial Improvement Brochure (PDF).

Cost of Renovation / New Construction

The cost of renovations or new construction is estimated as follows:

  • Residential:
    • $185 square feet without foundation modifications
    • $200 square feet with foundation modifications (includes second-story vertical additions).

Rate Is the Same for All

This rate is the same for owner-builders, volunteer labor or discounted materials, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires the City apply the value of the work, rather than any discounted actual costs. For example, if a volunteer organization offered to construct a home at no cost it would still have the same value as new construction. 

Final Inspection Period

In some instances, permitted work that never received final inspections may be considered within the current five-year period; unless it can be determined - to the Inspector’s satisfaction - that the work had been completed more than five years ago. If work to a building wasn’t finished during any five-year period, this five-year window is extended until final inspections have been approved. In other words, this five-year clock doesn’t reset upon uncompleted projects, simply because it took longer than five years to finish the work.

Outdoor Buildings

If decks are attached to a building then these costs are included. If the deck is separated from the building - by a little as a fraction of an inch - then these costs are excluded from these calculations. During flood conditions, attached decks may toque loads upon a building; yet decks that will break-away on their own when not so attached don’t stress the building. 

The City will still seek to determine reasonable cost estimates for these type improvements, as opposed to applying the square-foot costs:

  • Carports
  • Commercial
  • Detached decks
  • Roofs
  • Sheds

Show All Answers

1. What is the 50% rule?
2. What's a "regulated flood zone?"
3. How is the market value of my building determined in connection with the 50% rule?
4. I believe my house is worth more than the Adjusted Property Appraiser's value, so my 50% threshold should be higher. How do I validate this?
5. How is the value of improvements determined?
6. Instead of elevating my home, can I dry floodproof it?
7. Does the 5-year rule reset with a change of ownership?
8. Instead of elevating my commercial building, may I dry floodproof it?
9. How high does my building need to be elevated?
10. My lot is above sea level, so how high on the lot must I raise my house?
11. An Elevation Certificate shows my first floor is only 1/4 inches below the required elevation. Isn't that close enough?
12. Do I need to elevate my building if I plan to substantially renovate it, but the elevation certificate shows that it's higher than the flood level, but lower than the building code requirement?
13. My building has been officially designated a Historically Contributing Structure. Am I still required to elevate it?
14. What are some examples of the ways in which structures can be substantially improved?
15. What is a Substantially Damaged Structure?
16. What the difference between Substantial Improvement and Substantial Damage?
17. In terms of the National Flood Insurance Program regulations, if a structure is determined to be substantially damaged, what must happen to that structure?
18. There are multiple buildings on one lot, that I want to build/renovate. Why am I being asked to file a building permit application for each one separately?
19. Do I need to elevate my building if I recently renovated my building to 49% of its market value, then a fire damaged a room and it's going to cost 1% of the value for repairs?
20. Does the building need to be elevated because a hurricane damaged the roof costing 10% value to repair after I renovated my home to 42%?
21. I have a shed (or garage) in the back yard, that I want to convert to a bedroom (or other living space). Does it have to be elevated?
22. The second floor of my building is well above the flood level. Are repairs to this portion of the building included in the Substantial Improvement calculations?
23. How high does a mobile home need to be elevated?
24. If a building's construction was permitted before the flood map date, but finished after that date, what rules apply?
25. Does solar equipment count toward the 50%?
26. Does only an addition need to be elevated, or the entire building?