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Elevation Certificates

What Is The Purpose Of An Elevation Certificate?

The purpose of an Elevation Certification is to provide structure elevation information. This information is used for compliance with the City of Austell's Floodplain Management and Prevention ordinance and helps to determine the proper insurance premium. Paragraph A8 of the Elevation Certificate relates to the area of the crawlspace, the number of flood vents that are installed, and the total net area covered by the flood vents. To be FEMA complaint there must be one square inch of open in the flood vent for each square foot of enclosed crawlspace area.

When Is An Elevation Certificate Required?

Elevation Certificates are required for all new construction and substantial improvements. Substantial improvements are defined as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement to a structure, the total cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement.

Commercial structures which are not used as dwellings or for overnight stays, such as hospitals, can be flood-proofed instead of elevated. Flood-proofed structures are designed to be substantially impermeable to the passage of floodwaters and to withstand the forces floodwaters can exert onto the structure.

Flood-proofed structures are certified using a Floodproofing Certificate instead of an Elevation Certificate. Please note that for insurance purposes flood-proofed structures are rated as if they are protected to a height one foot lower than they are actually protected.

To minimize potential damage caused by flooding, construction within the floodplain, referred to as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), is regulated by local, state and federal regulations. Elevation of structures is a key component of these requirements. Required elevations are identified during the permit review process, and are noted on the approved set of plans. Two Elevation Certificate forms will be attached to the plans during plan review and must be completed by a licensed land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is authorized in the State of Georgia to certify elevation information.

Elevation Certificate forms can be obtained here.

Building

Builders should work closely with their surveyor to identify and mark on-site the minimum required elevations of the building floor, duct work, heat pumps, electrical, and other building equipment. This should be done prior to foundation work. The surveyor should return during early construction to verify the height of the crawlspace, vents, duct work, and the finished floor.

When the structure is completed, the surveyor must confirm the height of mechanical equipment (such as heat pumps) and the height of the adjacent grade. Inspectors will ask for a preliminary Elevation Certificate when the lowest floor is in place.

For typical construction, the verification will occur at the underfloor framing inspection when the height of the floor can be identified. Of course, that is too late if you find the foundation was constructed too low. Check early and request that your surveyor provide an elevation reference point before forms are set.

At the completion of a project, the inspector will pick up the completed Elevation Certificate and verify some of the basic information such as the diagram used, and the number, size, and type of flood vents. If the paperwork is not in order, the building will not receive final inspection approval.

Some easily missed items are:

  • All mechanical equipment (this includes duct work) must be elevated to four feet above the Base Flood Elevation even if it is in an attached garage or outside the structure.
  • The bottom of required vents cannot be more than one foot above adjacent grade.
  • Crawlspaces below grade on all sides are prohibited (fill can be added to raise the crawlspace height to comply but must meet other required clearances).

Related Links and Documents

Elevation Certificate (Expires: November 30, 2018) 

Floodproofing Certificate for Non-Residential Structures (Expires: November 30, 2018)