Elevation Certificates

This page pertains only to properties located within the Key West city limits. Many islands outside the city use Key West   addresses and zip codes but are not located in the city like:

  • Southside of Stock Island
  • Big Coppitt
  • Big Pine
  • Cudjoe
  • Geiger
  • Rockland
  • Saddlebunch
  • Sugarloaf

Contact

If your property is located in one of the islands listed above, contact Monroe County's Senior Floodplain Coordinator Mary Wingate, CFM, or call 305-289-2866.

The office of the county's Senior Floodplain Coordinator is located in 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 ("AE," "AO" and "VE" 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 before 1975 (Pre-FIRM), new insurance reforms will likely require an Elevation Certificate, so the rates can be determined precisely to what depth the building is below the flood line (BFE) for that location.
    • Due to a significant 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 gives you credit for.
    • For example, homes are sometimes rated as 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.
    • IMPORTANT UPDATE:Don't be rated without an Elevation Certificate.  Under FEMA's new (Oct. 1, 2021) policy rating program, it's being promoted that ECs are no longer required to obtain or renew flood insurance policies. However, local rate comparisons by Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) show 82% of policy quotes accompanied by an EC receive lower rates. These are their findings:
      • $120 - $3,113 range of savings
      • $883 average annual savings--18% less than when rated without an EC)
        • 44 Comparisons
          • 36 saw a decrease in premium 
          • 8 saw no change in premium
          • 0 saw an increase in premium
      • By flood zone
        • X zone – 6 of 6 decrease in premium between $556 - $3,072
        • AE zone – 30 of 37 decrease in premium $120 - $3,113
        • VE zone – 1 of 1 no change in premium

Lower Flood Insurance Rates

If your building was constructed before 1975, and it's not at ground level, having an Elevation Certificate may lower your flood insurance rates. These rates will continue to increase each year dramatically 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, 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 does not 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 its certificate if one is required.