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The flood maps for Key West first became effective December 31, 1974. Buildings constructed after that date must be at specific minimal elevations above sea level. Existing buildings within regulated flood zones were grandfathered into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at their current elevations. However, that grandfathered status ceases once the building has been renovated by half its market value. Once that threshold is reached, renovation plans must include elevating the home to current flood levels.
To determine the market value of a structure, we rely on the market improvement value provided by the Monroe County Property Appraiser for the building before any modifications. We then apply a 15% adjustment to account for an estimated market value.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has mapped flood zones in the city based on ground elevation. Zones like "AE," "AO," "VE," and "Coastal A" have special flood hazard requirements for buildings. Zones labeled "X" or "Shaded-X" are above expected flood levels, exempting buildings within these zones from special requirements.
An appraisal of private property conducted by a qualified independent appraiser can be submitted for substantial improvement analysis. The assessment should indicate the actual cash value, factoring in replacement cost depreciated for the age and quality of construction.
The value of improvements is based upon a total of costs of improvements made to a building within a one-year cumulative period. The one-year period is extended if the improvements are not completed within this time, until all the improvements pass all final inspections. Work for site improvements not structurally attached to the structure, such a patios, driveways/pavers, pools/spas, irrigation, or fences, are not subject to substantial improvement analysis.
No, FEMA does NOT allow floodproofing instead of elevation on residential buildings. While homeowners can use floodproofing, it can't replace elevation if required.
No. The 50%-Rule applies to buildings, irrespective of ownership.
Commercial buildings in AE-type flood zones may dry floodproof instead of elevation so long as the building is used for non-residential purposes. Floodproofing is prohibited in VE-type flood zones and "Coastal A" Zones.
Every location within a regulated flood zone has a pre-determined flood level, known as the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). In type "A" flood zones, the height of a building is measured to Finished First Floor, usually referred to as the first habitable floor.
For example, an "AE-6" flood zone indicates when a substantial flood event occurs, minimum flood levels at this location are expected to be six feet above sea level. Current building codes require Substantially Improved buildings be elevated one-foot higher than the BFE (known as the Design Flood Elevation or DFE). Therefore, a home within an "AE-6" flood zone would need to be elevated to at least seven-feet above sea level.
Type "VE" and "Coastal A" flood zones are located along shorelines and have more stringent construction standards. The appropriate flood level for these buildings is measured at the lowest horizontal cross-member. The underside of that cross-member must be one foot higher than the Base Flood Elevation for the specific site.
If you’re seeking a building permit under the Building Permit Allocation System (BPAS), the minimum height requirement is 1.5-feet above BFE.
No, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not allow any margin of error regarding elevation requirements.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has exempted such structures from the elevation requirements related to Substantial Improvement, unless the structure is relocated, the foundation is replaced, or anything is done to the structure that would affect its status as a contributing historic structure. Utilities and machinery are still required to be elevated to proper flood levels.
As defined in Code of Federal Regulations Chapter 44 Section 59.1 of the NFIP regulations, a building is considered to be substantially damaged when: damage of any origin is sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. Buildings can also be declared Substantially Damaged due to neglect or excessive deterioration. Such buildings can’t be renovated nor repaired without elevation.
damage of any origin is sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
Substantial Improvement can occur gradually when repairs/renovations/additions total 50% of the building’s value.
Substantial Damage usually occurs during severe storm events, a fire or severe neglect/deterioration. Once declared, a Substantially Damaged building cannot be repaired without meeting current flood damage prevention requirements (usually elevation).
All structures determined to be substantially damaged are automatically considered to be substantial improvements, regardless of the repair work performed. In other words, if the cost necessary to fully repair the structure to its prior condition is equal to or greater than 50% of that structure's market value before damages, then the structure must be elevated (or floodproofed if it's non-residential) to or above the level of the design flood elevation, and meet other applicable program requirements.
Yes, for two reasons:
Yes. If the base of the building is below the flood level, all improvements are included, no matter where they occur on the building.
Yes. While in Florida solar equipment may be exempt from increasing property taxes, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) still considers such a building improvement.