bkmoseley12, Home Buyer in Bradenton, FL

Does anyone have experience dealing with the FEMA 50% rule when renovating a property that sits in a flood zone? Thanks!

Asked by bkmoseley12, Bradenton, FL Mon Mar 11, 2013

We plan to renovate an old property in Bradenton, Fl. The rule states that if the total amount of money spent on the reno is greater than 50% of the existing structure's value, one has to bring the structure up to current FEMA flood zone standards. This means raising the finished floor level to 1 ft above the registered Base Flood Level. In our case that would be 13 ft. This means practically building a brand new house. Much more expensive than a renovation! Is there a legal way around this?

Help the community by answering this question:


Basically the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that if the cost of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50% of the building's market value, then the building must meet the same construction and elevation requirements as a new building under FEMA guidelines.

Here's the fun part of "market value" -- the city of Sarasota, the county of Sarasota, the city of Venice, the town of Longboat Key, the city of North Port, the county of Manatee, the city of Bradenton, etc all have variations on how the 50% is calculated.

If you plan to renovate an older home that may fall under the 50% Rule, talk to the appropriate building department to see what is applicable to your home. Be wary of investor fix and flip remodeling that may not have had appropriate permits pulled to avoid the 50% threshold rule as project costs calculated into the 50% could include things such as built-in appliances, flooring, interior finishes, and other finishing materials in addition to structural related materials and costs.

Anyone looking to purchase or sell any pre-FIRM built home should verify the current flood zone designation of the structure (not just the lot). If the home is in a designated flood zone then you should take into consideration any major remodeling that has been done, especially if the quoted living space does not match that provided by the property appraiser's office.


Diane Christner, Realtor, GRI, SFR, CNE
Bright Realty
Sarasota, FL

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 3, 2015
From an engineering standpoint many homes can simply be "jacked up" to get above the BFL. If that is not a possibility, some folks will estimate the amount of their improvement extra low to try to squeeze under the 50% rule, however that could cause problems should you ever file a claim.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2015
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