The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in the Continental United States


Construction in Flood Zones

Notice:   This information is only intended to highlight certain common everyday aspects of floodplain related construction.  It's not intended nor designed to be a complete resource for all codes and requirements.  Contractors and owner-builders are still expected to educate themselves regarding all the necessary requirements.

Construction standards vary depending upon the site's flood zone rating. 

Construction in "X" type floodzones requires the first habitable floor to be a minimum elevation of one-foot above the crown-of-the-road (Sec. 14-38)

In Key West, most buildings/lots are located within type "A" flood zones.  These are zones more inland from the coastline, where a static rise in water levels can be expected. 

Land close to the shoreline is usually located in type "V" flood zones.  The "V" stands for "velocity," or breaking waves with a force that's considerably more damaging. As a consequence, building standards are much higher within "V" zones.

Type "V" and "A" zones appear on flood maps as "AE-#" and "VE-#.  The "E" denotes this flood zone has an elevation level assigned to it, and is expressed as "AE-6" or "VE-9," with the trailing number indicating the Base Flood Elevation or BFE for that zone.  That BFE number notes the height above sea level flood waters can be expected to rise... at a minimum. 

The BFE is a flood level reference height for building elevations and flood insurance.  A building below BFE is a building below the flood level for that site.

Building codes require most new and Substantially Improved buildings be at a minimum height of BFE +1'.

Thus, a new or elevated building in an "AE-6" flood zone would need to be elevated elevated to a minimum of seven (7) feet above mean-sea-level.  An Elevation Certificate is usually needed to determine the height of the land above sea level.  If, for example, the land is determined to be four (4) feet above sea level, then the building would need to be three (3) feet above the ground.

Some historic buildings are exempt from building elevation requirements when being renovated. However, these buildings are often significantly below flood levels, and will result in drastically higher premiums for flood insurance if not elevated.  (For additional information on this historic building exemption, see Historic Building Exemptions

There are two "X" zones within the city, basically encircling the highest areas of the downtown or Old Town section of the city. Within these higher elevations, construction is unregulated for floodplain purposes.  (Click here to view a map of these X-zone.)

A-Zone Construction

V-Zone Construction

Flyer - Flood Resistant Construction & the 2010 Florida Building Code (a good synopsis of changes brought on by the new building code)


Contact Us

Scott Fraser,
FEMA Coordinator/Floodplain Administrator
Building Department
1300 White St
Key West, FL 33040
Get Directions

In this Department

Topics of Interest

More Information