If you tuned in to our last blog, you’re probably an expert in building and renovating on the coast, right?! Well, maybe not. Understanding the coastal challenges can be complicated! Let’s dive deeper to understand more about the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), Elevation Certificates and how it all comes back to affect your home insurance.
BASE FLOOD ELEVATION:
The BFE line indicates the highest predicted water level during a flood, measured by number of feet above the average high tide. There is a 1% chance every year that flooding water will equal or exceed the BFE.
The International Building Code is now staying on top of the BFE (literally), by requiring a Design Flood Elevation of +1′. Meaning, if your house falls within a VE-12 zone, the number 12 indicates your BFE. With the +1′ rule in effect, the bottom of your structure must be at 13’ above sea level (12’ + 1’ = 13’). Any structure that may fall below 13’ (stairs, piers, etc) are required to be flood resistant and requires special construction.
So now I bet you’re asking, “how do I know my BFE and the level of my house?” That is a question an elevation certificate can answer. An elevation certificate is a multi-page certificate of photographs, diagrams and survey points of your home. This document is completed by a professional surveyor, architect or engineer.
This is a big topic. Insurance can be extremely complicated and tricky when you’re not paying attention. Without an elevation certificate, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has no way of knowing where your building is in relation to sea level. Without this knowledge, they will assume you are at the highest risk and your flood rates are subject to an annual increase of up to 25% per year! By providing an elevation certificate, the insurance companies have the information they need to establish true risk and rate accordingly.
However, insurance companies are not always paying attention, either. If you are living on the coast and your flood rates are low, it could just be dumb luck. Major “events,” like renovating, or even refinancing your home can trigger insurance companies to take a closer look.
As always, we recommend talking to local professionals! Coastal construction and renovation requires special attention and expertise. It is always helpful and in your best interest to work with a team familiar with the area, construction type and other nuances that may be happening in your little beach town.