Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pequannock Issues Home Elevation FAQ

CraneImage via Wikipedia
Home Elevations – Frequently Asked Questions

  • “Base Flood Elevation” (BFE):
  • This is a theoretical number that varies depending on your location and whether you are looking at a FEMA or NJDEP map.
  • The BFE has nothing to do with how high the water came in your home.
  • The NJDEP designated BFE for your home can be roughly determined (within 6”) at the Office of the Township Engineer.
  • If you intend, or are required, to elevate your home the NJDEP designated BFE and your finished first floor elevation must be certified by a Licensed Surveyor on an “Elevation Certificate”.

Home Elevation:
  • Requires construction permit no different than any other construction work.
  • Most homes do not need a NJDEP permit as long as certain criteria are met, such as:
    • The home cannot be in the “floodway”;
    • The lowest finished floor must be 2 feet above the NJDEP designated BFE;
    • The ground level must remain accessible to flood water and uninhabited.  Storage/parking is permitted.
  • Any home can be elevated, including homes on slab.  Slabs can be raised, or the home can be lifted off the slab.
  • The cost varies depending on the size of the home, type of construction, height requirement, and funding source.

Funding Sources:
1. Homeowner.  The fastest way of elevating a home is to go through the design and construction permit process on your own.

2. Homeowner + Insurance.  Anyone with an NFIP policy is eligible for “Increased Cost of Compliance” (ICC) funds once the home has been declared “Substantially Damaged”.
·        Substantial Damage is defined as when the cost to repair a home to pre-flood condition is 50% or greater than the market value of the pre-flooded home.
·        Once a declaration is made, a residential homeowner must Elevate, Relocate, or Demolish the home.
·        The declaration also allows the homeowner to make a secondary claim for ICC funds to complete the work up to $30,000.
·        $30,000 will not cover all of the costs of elevating your home, but it is a substantial amount toward the total.
·        The total will vary, but current research indicates that a standard “Cape Cod” on a slab could likely be elevated (start to finish) for roughly $50,000.  This number offer’s a magnitude of cost, not a definitive cost.

3. FEMA Grant to Municipality.  This is the slowest way to elevate your home.
  • The municipality is currently taking names for an elevation grant funded by FEMA, due to FEMA this month.
  • Having your name on the list does not guarantee inclusion.  Many people will not be eligible due to various factors such as:  Lack of NFIP Insurance Policy, low official “Repetitive Loss” designation, and low Benefit – Cost Ratio.
  • Grant applications are competitive nationally, submitting the grant application is not a guarantee it will be funded.
  • Grant applications, if approved, are generally approved in 6 – 8 months.
  • Once approved, the process of planning, design, advertising for contractors, and finally elevating your home will likely take 2 years, give or take a few months.
  • FEMA does not pay 100%; the grant is a matching grant.  The match is usually 75% FEMA – 25% Other
  • ICC funds can be used for the “Other” match, regardless of Substantial Damage.
  • Once the elevations are bid as a Township project, public bidding laws and prevailing wage laws apply.  Recent FEMA grant applications for elevation funding have estimated $150,000 per home, not $50,000.

For more information and FEMA Publications on these subjects go to
the Township’s “Important Flood Information” webpage.

Home Elevation FAQ Compiled by Township Engineer’s Office

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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