Elevation Certificates

When You Need a Certificate

For regulatory purposes, Elevation Certificates are usually required for:

  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • Major renovations equating to a Substantial Improvement within the regulated floodplain (view Substantial Improvement page)
  • New construction of structures within the regulated floodplain ("AE" and "AO" flood zones; not "X" zones)
  • Requesting a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), asking a lot be reclassified because its height is greater than the flood level for that area.


For insurance and other purposes, elevation certificates are required for:

  • Floodproofing projects for commercial buildings
  • Residential buildings to prove the finished floor elevation of the constructed building for insurance rate purposes
  • If a building was built before 1975 (Pre-FIRM), new insurance reforms will likely require an Elevation Certificate, so the rates can be determined precisely to what depth the building is below the flood line (BFE) for that location
    • Due to a significant number of property owners now needing Elevation Certificates, there may be a backlog to obtaining one. Request early
  • Lending institutions usually want one before finalizing a construction loan to ensure the building it financed was properly erected above minimum flood levels
  • Obtain a lower insurance rate because your house is higher than the insurance company gives you credit for
    • For example, homes are sometimes rated as ground level (slab-on-grade), even though they may be a couple of feet higher on columns. An Elevation Certificate will demonstrate the actual height of the building

How to Read the Elevation Certificate

The certificate can tell you the following things:

  • The flood level for that location (Base Flood Elevation or BFE)
  • Height of the Finish First Floor (A & AE-zones)
  • Height of the lowest piece of machinery or equipment (air-conditioning, electrical boxes, etc.) above sea-level
  • It does not show the overall height of a building. If you need that measurement, ensure you make special arrangements with the land surveyor
  • The lowest and highest adjacent grades to the building, above sea-level
  • Number and overall size of flood vents present in enclosed areas below flood level and garages (Not permitted in the City of Sugar Land)
  • What flood zone a building is located in


  • If you have only the front page of an Elevation Certificate, it's usually considered incomplete
  • Page two of the certificate, Section "D" often has important information in the "Comments" block
  • An Elevation Certificate is only good for one building. Each building must have its certificate if one is required
  • Elevation Certificates are provided by the developer or building owner and signed and sealed by a registered Land Surveyor, Professional Engineer or Architect