Understand Substantial Improvement
In order to continue to secure the benefits of participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for citizens of Madeira Beach, Florida; it is necessary for this City to comply with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements for renovations and additions in “AE” and “VE” Coastal High hazard zones. FEMA requirements affect existing buildings that were not constructed at minimum flood elevation when such buildings are “substantially improved”. FEMA has defined substantial improvement; as any repair, reconstruction or improvement of a structure, the costs of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value of the structure either before the improvement or repair is started, or before the damage occurred if the building has been damaged and is being restored.
In the case of substantial improvement of a structure, in which the addition is to the front, rear or either side; only the addition is required to comply with the elevation and construction criteria, of the NFIP regulations. Should the substantial improvement consist of interior renovations, there is no option of elevating just the improvement. Therefore, the entire structure must be elevated. Substantial improvement consisting of an addition directly above an existing structure would be treated the same as if the improvement were interior renovations.
It is important to keep in mind that substantial improvement is cumulative, per City Code for (1) year, and refers to the total cost of all improvements, not individual building permits. Breaking a project up into segments or phases to avoid the substantial improvement threshold is prohibited by FEMA regulations.
To assist in the determination of substantial improvement, the applicant needs to provide the market value of the existing structure, excluding land. This can be obtained from the Pinellas County Tax Assessor’s office or a certified Florida Licensed appraisal. The cost of the work also needs to be provided. This cost must include the value of all labor and materials. When labor or materials are donated, provided by the owner or discounted in any way, prevailing market values shall be used. A detailed cost estimate will be accepted as documentation for the cost of the work.
Your permit application cannot be processed until the above mentioned information has been provided.
Other building tips:
- Elevate your home
- Elevate your equipment, such as water heaters, AC units, etc.
- Raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring
- Implement flood-proofing techniques.
- Install sewer backflow valves
- Build with flood resistant materials
- Clear storm drains
ELEVATION CERTIFICATES: All new construction or substantial improvement requires a surveyor’s elevation certificate to document the height of the floor, structure and equipment, as well as breakaway walls, or hydrostatic relief vents required in enclosures for garage storage below the BFE. The City maintains a file of these certificates, and can provide copies to anyone as per availability. Certificates (use our link) are also on the City’s website by address.
It should be noted that the official file and elevation certificate information is what is used to determine insurance rates, or if enclosures or additions to living space have been made below flood level. These illegal enclosures or changes will not be covered by insurance; only permitted expansions documented as meeting codes will be covered.
In order to begin the application process for Flood Mitigation Grant for Elevation, the homeowner is required to provide the following documentation:
- Structural engineers “Sealed” certification that project is “technically feasible” for the structure to be elevated.
- Ownership evidence, deed etc.
- Verification of current and continuous flood insurance and policy number.
- The most current Survey, elevation certificate, and appraisal of existing structure.
- A contractors estimate with cost breakdown. and scope of work (time schedule.)
- A site plan and project sketches showing proposed setbacks and elevations views.
- Pictures of all four sides of existing structure.