Building in the Floodplain

Notice to All Property Owners

Did you know that almost all permitted development within the City of Fernandina Beach requires a floodplain review?

The following are general guidelines for building in a Special Flood Hazard Area.   

Substantial Damage/Substantial Improvement Information

Making additions or alterations to a structure whose lowest floor is below the required flood elevation or rebuilding your home or structure after the storm? 

If your residential or non-residential structure is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and is below the required flood elevation, then the City of Fernandina Beach has local floodplain regulations and state building codes that may affect how you remodel, renovate, or add on to your building. If your building has sustained structural and/or interior damage, these regulations and codes may affect how it is reconstructed. Communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are required to adopt and enforce laws in accordance with 44CFR Sections 59.1 and 60.3. Federally backed flood insurance is available for residents and property owners of communities in good standing with the NFIP. 

SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE means damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its pre-damaged condition would equal or exceed 30% of the market value or replacement cost of the structure before the damage occurred. (Note: The cost of the repairs must include all costs necessary to fully repair the structure to its before damaged condition). 

SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or another improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 30% of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement. If a building is “substantially damaged” or “substantially improved”, it must be brought into compliance with the City of Fernandina Beach flood damage prevention regulations, including elevating the building to or above the base flood elevation. In accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency the City of Fernandina Beach shall determine “substantial damage” and “substantial improvement” and has implemented the following procedures to do so: 

The City will use the assessed value of your structure recorded by the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s Office. This value excludes the land, pool/spa, and any item not a permanent part of the structure. (Please contact the County Property Appraiser’s office or the City’s Building Department to obtain this value). However, if you disagree with the Property Appraiser’s valuation of the structure, you may engage a State of Florida licensed property appraiser to submit an appraisal for the Depreciated Replacement Cost (Actual Cash Value) of the structure. This appraisal must be dated no later than (6) months from the date of permit submittal. 

You must obtain and submit a detailed and complete cost estimate to the City of Fernandina Beach for the addition, remodeling, reconstruction or for repair of all the damages sustained by your structure. The cost estimate must be prepared and signed by a licensed contractor. In addition, the contractor must sign an affidavit indicating that the cost estimate includes all damages or all improvements to the structure, not just structural. A signed contract must be submitted with the permit application. If the owner is the contractor, the owner is responsible for submitting the cost estimate and providing documentation, including subcontractor bids. 

If a structure is determined to have “substantial damage” or is proposed to be “substantially improved”, then an Elevation Certificate must be submitted to the City of Fernandina Beach to determine the lowest floor elevation.

The NFIP allows a new or substantially improved non-residential building in Zone AE to have its lowest floor below the required flood elevation provided that the building has been designed, constructed, and certified to be floodproofed.  Floodproofing of areas below the BFE in residential buildings is not permitted under the NFIP nor is floodproofing permitted in a Coastal High Hazard Area (Zone VE).


New Construction
The 6th Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) is the current edition in effect for all building code regulations.  All new construction and substantial improvements must at a minimum comply with all flood provisions in the FBC.  Additional guidance for building in a SFHA can be found through ASCE 7 and ASCE 24. 

The Floodplain Review office is located in the Building Department at 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, FL.  For additional assistance contact 904-310-3135.