We are asked this all the time and rightfully so. You are told you need to buy a flood insurance policy, which is separate from your homeowner’s policy. And then you are told you need a separate elevation certificate to calculate the proper premium. Or maybe you already have flood insurance and you were told getting a proper elevation certificate could lower your rising premium. So what does the elevation certificate cost?
The national average cost for an elevation certificate is about $600 and the range is about $169 to $2,000 or more. There are a lot of reasons elevation certificate costs vary, including: occupancy type, structure type, demand, location, timing, data, and quality.
A residential property is different from a commercial property, and generally, elevation certificate prices for commercial properties are higher than residential properties. For example, you probably don’t have an elevator in your home or any manufacturing equipment or 20,000 square feet of space, but some commercial structures that need flood insurance do have these characteristics and they require more effort to measure correctly.
A single-family home may have a basement or a crawlspace which requires measurement, and often, difficult access. If the home is elevated or has break-away walls, flood vents, or other mitigation then it can take more time to collect the proper measurements. There could be a sunken living space, attached garage, or any number of features that require more or less effort to measure precisely.
An elevation certificate must be completed by a state-licensed professional. If you are in an area where a lot of elevation certificates are needed because there are a lot of flooding issues, home sales, flood map changes, and similar activities, the cost of the elevation certificate is going to go down. But if you are in an area with relatively less activity of that type, the price for the elevation certificate goes up. It’s simply supply and demand and is no different for elevation certificates than any other professional service.
Some places are harder to get to than others. And while Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment is used where feasible, sometimes the elevation measurements must be established from local or USGS benchmarks that can be long distances from the structure which increases elevation certificate cost.
One factor in your control when pricing an elevation certificate is the timing. If you need the elevation certificate quickly, it can result in “rush” pricing and cost more. But waiting just a few days longer to receive the elevation certificate could lower your costs.
A commonly overlooked cost factor is the effort to correctly measure the Base Flood Elevation (e.g. 100-year flood elevation). To calculate the best possible flood insurance premium, your insurance agent needs to know the difference between the structure elevation and the Base Flood Elevation. You'd think that measurement comes from FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Map, but it doesn't. Most of the elevations on the FEMA map are rounded estimations of the true flood elevations, so you have to turn to another FEMA document filled with elevation data called the Flood Insurance Study. Depending on the data that is available from FEMA, this can take more effort and affect elevation certificate cost.
An elevation certificate is a complicated document completed by trained and licensed professionals. And it is very important to get every single number exactly correct. An improper elevation certificate can result in incorrect policy ratings, denied building permits, or disqualification from floodplain removal. It is not merely enough to have the elevation certificate, it must be a correct elevation certificate. A cheap elevation certificate may be cheap if corners are being cut on quality. At MassiveCert we have a unique and proprietary digital quality review system that inspects over 100 elements on the elevation certificate before it is delivered and we back every elevation certificate with a guarantee.
Hope this helps take some of the mystery out of elevation certificate costs. If there’s anything we can do to help, please drop us a line.