Reading and Interpreting Elevation Certificates, Part 1

elevation certificates

At Diamond Land Surveying, you can count on our professionals to provide you with a wide variety of property information for your residential area. Our residential land surveyors cover numerous basic needs when it comes to legal property boundaries, qualities and characteristics, which can help with everything from defining your property to helping you make your desired upgrades.

One of the pieces of documentation you might receive during a property inspection is known as an Elevation Certificate, or EC. It’s a form provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is meant to help determine the risk of flooding on any property. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over all the basic sections of the EC form (not including the photos section) and what you need to know about interpreting the data being given to you.

elevation certificates

Section A

The first section in your EC form will go over all the basics of the property and its information. It will provide the address for starters, as well as a basic legal description of the property type.

From here, Section A will also contain other information like the latitude and longitude of the property, plus the kind of structure present on the property. For buildings that contain them, areas like basements, crawl spaces, on slabs and attached garages will all be noted. This information can be important for level needs later on.

Section B

For all your important FIRM data, Section B is the place to look. It identifies the community, county and state in which the property is located, plus provides the FIRM number with the original map date, revised map date, flood zone, and base flood elevation.

This final number, abbreviated BFE, is perhaps the single most important figure on this entire report. It refers to the baseline number above or below which risk is assessed. Essentially, if the structure is above the magic number, it is above the flood plain – this means flood insurance might not be needed for this structure (though this can vary in some cases).

Section C

Section C is dedicated for the land surveyor or engineer to provide their overall results. Once again, the BFE will be used here – the numbers listed in Section C will be compared to it to see if they’re above or below. In general, the largest areas of concern here are the lowest points of the structure, the elevation of the ground around it, and the elevation of attached objects (like decks or garages). If all these numbers are higher than the BFE from Section B, you’re likely in good shape. And even if not, there are still options available to you.

For more on reading your Elevation Certificate, or to learn about any of our commercial or residential surveying services, speak to the pros at Diamond Land Surveying today.