Home Elevation FAQs

In order to better protect lives and property following Superstorm Sandy and other major recent flooding events, the state has adopted emergency amendments to New Jersey’s Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules that set minimum elevation standards for the reconstruction of houses and buildings in areas that are in danger of flooding.
Recent congressional action resulted in significant changes to National Flood Insurance Program rates. Flood insurance costs, which are outside the control of the state, are likely to be much lower for those who elevate using the state’s elevation standards. 
The following FAQ's answer some of the most common questions and will help you determine if you need to elevate and get you started if you need to do so.

Home Elevation FAQs

How do I determine if I have to elevate my home?


You are required to elevate and/or meet new construction standards if your house is located in a flood zone and was declared substantially damaged by your local floodplain administrator or is new construction. You have no legal obligation to elevate if your home was not substantially damaged. 



How can I determine if elevating my home will affect my flood insurance premiums?

Beginning April 1st, the National Flood Insurance Program implemented numerous changes to their rate structures and business practices as a result of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) and Biggert-Waters 12. 

Key changes include homes that remain below BFE face the highest flood insurance premium increases in addition to surcharges of $25 for primary residences and $250 for second homeowners. (Effective for  policies renewing after April 1st.)

The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act also allows new owners of a primary residence to assume a sellers current rate and grandfather existing primary homeowners with a 15%-18% cap to the rate increases that the NFIP can charge in any single year.

For more information about important NFIP Program changes, click the attached APRIL 2015 NFIP Changes Fact Sheet

What is Base Flood Elevation (BFE)?

The elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Zones AE, AH, A1-30, or VE that indicates the water surface elevation resulting from a flood that has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year.

In coastal areas, BFE’s are calculated by taking into account: 1) the storm surge Stillwater elevation, 2) the amount of wave setup 3) the wave height above the storm surge Stillwater elevation and 4) the wave runup above the storm surge Stillwater elevation (where present).


What do FEMA Flood Hazard Zones mean?

Flood hazard zones are lettered based on the level and type of flood risk. 

  • Zone V/VE:  An area of high flood risk subject to inundation by the 1% annual-chance flood event with additional hazards due to storm induced velocity and wave action (a 3-foor or higher breaking wave).
  • Zone A/AE:  An area of high flood risk subject to inundation by the 1% annual-chance flood event.
  • Zone AO:  An Area of high flood risk subject to inundation by 1% annual-chance shallow flooding where average depths are between one and three feet.
  • Shaded Zone X:  Areas of moderate flood risk within the 0.2% annual chance floodplain; or areas of 1% annual chance flooding where average depths are less than one foot, where the drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the flood level by a levee.
  • Unshaded Zone X:  Areas of low flood risk outside the 1% and 0.2% annual chance floodplains.
  • Zone D:  Areas where flood hazards are undetermined but flooding is possible.


How do I determine what my BFE is and which flood zone I am in?
Visit the FEMA website or click on the link below  for a guide to determine your Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and which flood zone your specific property is located.   Be sure to confirm this information with a professional surveyor or engineer.
FEMA offers people with accessibility needs to call 1-800-427-4661 and receive assistance in identifying and interpreting the flood information for their property.



How do I determine the current elevation for my property?


If your home was recently built, your closing documents should contain a survey and flood elevation certificate that would have been required for your flood insurance policy.

A library of flood elevation certificates are also available on line at www.ocnj.us/community-rating-system-CRS/ and click on the Elevation Certificates link or click the link below:


What is the definition of substantial damage?

Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a structure in which the cost of restoration of the structure to its condition before damage would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.  

If the repairs and upgrades that you have made or plan to make to your home exceed 50% of the value of the home, you are required to bring your home into compliance with Ocean City's Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance which could include raising your home, depending on the current elevation of the structure. 


How do I determine what the new required BFE is for my property?

The new requirements should be determined by a licensed surveyor or engineer.

Homes that remain below BFE face step flood insurance premiums.



How is the value of my home determined for the comparison to the repair/upgrade costs?


The value of your home is shown on your tax bill as the “Improvement Value”.  This value is a fraction of the total value of your property and is usually less than your land value in Ocean City.  You can also hire an appraiser to provide you with an appraisal for the value of the improvements on your property.


What repairs/upgrades costs should I include when making the comparison to the 50% value of my home?

The following items shall be included in the repair/upgrade costs:  All structural elements (spread or continuous foundation footings and pilings, monolithic or other types of concrete slabs, bearing walls, tie beams, trusses, floors, and ceilings), attached decks and porches, interior partition walls, exterior wall finishes (brick, stucco, siding, painting, and moldings), windows, doors, reshingling or retiling a roof, hardware, interior finishes (tiling, linoleum, stone, carpet over subflooring, drywall, painting, stucco, plaster, paneling, marble), bathroom tile and fixtures, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, utility cabinets, all utility and service equipment (HVAC equipment, plumbing and electrical services, light fixtures, ceiling fans, security systems, built in kitchen appliances, central vacuum systems, water filtration-conditioning-recirculation systems), demolition costs for storm damaged building components, labor and other associated costs associated with moving or altering undamaged building components to accommodate improvements or additions, overhead and profits.

Items excluded from the repair/upgrade costs:  plans and specifications, survey costs, permit fees, post-storm debris removal and clean up, landscaping, sidewalk, fences, yard lights, swimming pools, screened pool enclosures, detached structures (garages, sheds, and gazebos), and irrigation systems.



I have determined that I want to/need to elevate my home. What is the next step?


Consult with a licensed professional (surveyor, engineer or architect) to create the plans for the elevation and start the permitting process. Using a licensed professional that is familiar with the process of home elevation can help to insure the permit process is handled accurately and in a timely manner.

Licensed home elevation specialists and professionals can be found by visiting the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs website at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov.

Download Hiring a Home Elevation Contractor from the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs


Where do I find the permit information required to elevate my home?
Forms required for Zoning permits along with the fees can be found by clicking the link below:

Planning & Zoning Frequently Asked Questions

Or visit the Zoning Office located in the Henry  S. Knight Building, 115 E 12th Street, Ocean City NJ 08226.  The Zoning Office if open Monday through Friday 8:45am to 4:30pm excluding City Holidays

My Insurance Adjuster is requesting a letter from the City as proof that I am required to elevate my home. How do I get this letter?


 Obtain costs to repair/upgrade your home that include itemized estimates from licensed contractors or other professional estimators in the construction industry.  Bring copies of all the estimates to the Construction Code Office (115 East 12thStreet, Ocean City, NJ 08226) to make your request for the letter.
Are there benefits to elevating?

Yes. You will better protect your home and its contents and you will likely pay lower flood insurance rates in the future than if you do not elevate. Some people may find that the long-term insurance savings alone can offset the cost of raising a house.



How much does it cost to raise a house in New Jersey?


Depending on the size of the house, the location, and the current structure and foundation, the cost that an NJ house raising contractor will charge to raise your home will be in the range of $12,000 – 30,000.  However, the actual house jacking and resetting is only one component of the all-in price for house lifting.  The full turn-key price will be in the $40,000 – $150,000 range for most homes along the Jersey Shore.  At the lower end of that range is a simple beach cottage.  At the higher end is a trickier job to lift a 3-storey house on the water or in a tight location, as an example.

Source:  www.RebuildNewJersey.com
What goes into the cost to lift a house?
It’s very important for homeowners to realize that house lifting is an involved process.  There are many different permitting processes, trades, and calculations that go into raising a house, just as there are in any major home renovation project, including:
  • Removing existing decks, porches, walkways, steps, and stair cases
  • Removing pavers and other hardscape and storing them carefully for later reuse
  • Temporarily removing any landscaping
  • Engineering, architectural drawings, soil samples, and site surveys
  • Foundational work – either concrete foundations, pilings, or helical piles
  • Shutting off your utilities, including sending official shutoff request to your municipality
  • Disconnecting utilities – electricity, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation
  • Lifting or Raising the House
  • Building a new foundation
  • Constructing a new lower level
  • Installing hurricane straps and bracing where necessary
  • Painting, siding, and coating
  • Re-installing or rebuilding decks, porches, and stairs
  • Re-installing landscaping and hardscape
  • Re-connecting all utilities and raising your HVAC equipment off the ground
    We advise homeowners to be aware when any full service turn-key house lifting quote is below $40,000.  There is a lot that goes into the process to ensure that it is done correctly.  Every project is different, so please contact your licensed NJ general contractor or house lifting contractor for an individual estimate
Source:  www.RebuildNewJersey.com
Contact Information for Zoning & Code Offices


Zoning Office and Construction Office

Henry S. Knight Building
115 East 12th Street

Ocean City NJ 08226


Monday - Friday  8:45a - 4:30
Excluding City Holidays