Save Time, Money by Contacting Local Officials Before Rebuilding

Before starting repairs on your home, contact your local officials to see if there are permit
requirements or rebuilding regulations you will need to follow. It will save you time and

Contact local officials before starting your repairs.

▪ If your home was damaged, contact your community’s floodplain, building and permitting departments to
determine what steps you’ll need to take before beginning repairs.

▪ It’s important to talk to local officials to ensure the time and money you invest in rebuilding meet floodplain
regulations and local building codes that help keep people and property safe, protect property values, and can
help minimize insurance costs like flood insurance.
o Permits may be required for things such as work on the roof, walls, siding, foundation, plumbing and the
heating and air conditioning systems.
o If you live in a high-risk flood zone, you will need to get a permit for floodplain development from your local
officials, even if you are making repairs from damage caused by sources other than flood, rain or water.
Permits also provide a permanent record of compliance with elevation, and/or retrofitting requirements, which is
useful information when selling a home and getting a quote for flood insurance.

▪ Your home may also require a local floodplain damage inspection to determine if your home or business is
substantially damaged or will be substantially improved. Rebuilding the right way now could save you time and
money later.


▪ While some communities may choose to waive a permit fee, permits themselves cannot be waived.
Understand what substantial damage and substantial improvement means. It can help
you make recovery decisions.

▪ When improvements to existing buildings, structures, and manufactured homes meet the definition of
“substantial improvement,” or when damage meets the definition of “substantial damage,” communities must
Fact Sheet (Save Time, Money by Contacting Local Officials Before Rebuilding)
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enforce requirements to bring those structures into compliance by meeting the requirements for new

▪ Substantial damage and substantial improvement generally apply to structures in areas called high-risk flood
zones, otherwise known as Special Flood Hazard Areas. Substantial damage or substantial improvement of a
structure means the cost of restoring or improving the structure is equal to or greater than 50% of the
structure’s pre-damage or pre-improvement market value. Some communities enforce a more restrictive

▪ If community officials determine your structure is substantially damaged from any source, including water, wind,
fire, debris impact (like a fallen tree, for example), and more, it may need to be elevated, relocated, demolished
and rebuilt or meet other local requirements. Knowing this early on can help you make the best recovery
decisions for your household.
Avoid future damage by mitigating your home.
Communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program require all new and improved homes be built or
elevated to or above Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Contact your local floodplain manager for additional information
regarding your community’s participation.

▪ BFE is the height you can expect water to rise or exceed from a 1% chance flood event. Your community may
also require a level of protection above the BFE. Find out your elevation requirement from your local officials and
remember that rebuilding higher than the minimum requirement is always a wise decision and can help lower
flood insurance premiums.

For more information on FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants, view:

o Federal Resources
‒ Property Owners and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program |
‒ Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants |

o State Resources
‒ Hazard Mitigation Overview (

To speak with a Mitigation Specialist call 833-FEMA-4-US or 833-336-2487. To review mitigation publications and
find information on repair, retrofit, or rebuild safer and stronger visit or for Spanish.

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