How Much Does an Elevation Certificate Cost?

Typical Range:

$170 - $2,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated September 12, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The average flood elevation certificate costs $600. Depending on the property type and location, costs can run as low as $170 or high as $2,000 or more.

A flood elevation certificate determines the risk that flooding will impact your home. Some insurance companies require this certificate, but many homeowners choose to get one because it can save them money on their flood insurance premium.

Average Cost of a Flood Elevation Certificate

Average Cost High Cost Low Cost
$600 $2,000+ $170

What Is a Flood Elevation Certificate?

A flood elevation certificate (EC) is a document that proves your property meets minimum elevation requirements. While not every community needs an elevation certificate, many do, particularly in areas at risk of flooding. In these circumstances, an EC is necessary to prove that the buildings are compliant with local floodplain management guidelines.

Properties usually get their EC during the permitting phase of the construction process. However, that's not always the case, so contact your local zoning office to find out if your home has or needs a flood elevation certificate. 

Elevation Certificate vs. Survey vs. FEMA Certificate

An elevation survey is another name for an elevation certificate, and it’s different from a land survey, which gives you a legal document of your property lines. A land survey costs $510 on average. 

Flood elevation certificates are also called Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) elevation certificates. The reason for this is because homeowners who live in a FEMA-designated 100-year floodplain have to get this type of certificate. However, you can still get an elevation certificate even if you don’t live in a flood zone.

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Elevation Certificate Cost Factors

Certificate of elevation costs range anywhere from$170 to $2,000 or more, depending on a number of factors. The most significant variables are your living location, property type, type of structure, and when you need your elevation certificate.

Location

Living in an area that experiences a lot of flooding usually means it's less expensive to get a certificate because land surveyors are already in the area performing EC evaluations regularly. But if you live in an area with a higher cost of living, land survey prices for flood elevation are likely to be higher than in other states.

Type of Property

Certificates for residential properties typically cost less than commercial properties. Additionally, the survey price increases with the plot size, as it takes more time to survey a 10-acre property than a 1/2-acre one. 

Structure

Basements, crawl spaces, and other tricky-to-access areas raise the price. Simple properties take less time to survey, so you pay less in labor time. 

Timing

You'll pay a higher price if you need a rush on the certificate, such as when buying a house. But if you give your local land surveyor plenty of notice, you'll pay less as you won't have to pay an emergency or rapid response fee. You may also get a good deal if you book your survey during less busy periods. 

Flood Elevation Certificate Cost Benefits

One of the biggest homeowners insurance myths is that insurance automatically covers flooding from a natural disaster. In reality, homeowners insurance usually covers damage from internal floods, like a broken pipe. A flood elevation certificate is beneficial because it could save upwards of $400 per year on flood insurance rates. This makes flood insurance more affordable, saving you money later on if your home experiences flooding.

Even in the desert, less than an inch of rain can lead to flooding. Getting flood insurance beats paying the cost to repair water damage out of pocket, which can run up to $4,760. You may also have to pay another $1,360 to $4,940 for the price to remove standing water if uninsured.

DIY Elevation Certificate vs. Hiring a Professional

Unlike most other household projects, there’s no DIY option for a flood elevation certificate. You’ll have to contact a certified land surveyor or National Flood Insurance Program coordinator to perform the inspection and issue the certificate. Find a local elevation certificate surveyor to learn more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a flood elevation certificate?

Anyone can get a flood elevation certificate, but there are three situations where getting one is necessary:

  • You own a house in a FEMA-determined Special Flood Hazard Area, also called a 100-year floodplain.

  • Your flood insurance is through the National Flood Insurance Program.

  • Your home loan is from the U.S. government.

Why is it important to get an elevation certificate?

Getting an elevation certificate is important because it helps determine how much you need to pay for flood insurance. Even if flood insurance isn't mandatory where you live, you could still reduce the cost of your premium with a valid certificate. 

Additionally, some home insurance providers won't cover your property or belongings for flood damage if you don't have a certificate proving that your home is above the minimum safe elevation level.

Does an elevation certificate reduce flood insurance costs?

An elevation certificate could save you up to $400 per year on flood insurance costs. Check with your insurer to see how much you could save. The elevation certificate shows your insurer how far your property's lowest floor is above the base flood elevation (BFE) level. The higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the cost of your flood insurance.

How do you get a flood elevation certificate?

You can get a flood elevation certification by asking the sellers for their elevation certificate if you buy a house in an area prone to flooding. Otherwise, you can find a land surveyor with the proper license to perform one on your property. 

Additionally, some architects or engineers have the appropriate license. Talk to a local architect for more information.

How long does it take to get a flood elevation certificate?

It typically takes about five business days to get a flood elevation certificate. However, if you need one quickly, you may be able to pay a rapid response fee and get a land surveyor faster. During busy periods, your chosen land surveyor may not be available for several weeks, so it's best to book in advance.

What is a good elevation to avoid flooding?

The exact elevation to avoid flooding depends entirely on where you live and the position of your home in relation to the nearest floodplain. FEMA recommends elevating a property to at least 1 foot the height of a flood in the local area with a 1% chance of occurring. This, plus 1 foot, is the minimum elevation at which federal funding may be available.