How to Find the Elevation of Your House How to Find the Elevation of Your House

What You'll Need
A qualified land surveyor
A tree or telephone pole with BFE mark
Tape measure

Finding the elevation of your house may be important to do should you have a home that is in a federal flood zone or area that may be subject to extensive damages as a result of natural causes. The base flood elevation (BFE) for your home is determined by your community. To determine whether your house is above this level or not requires you to locate a marker and run a string line to your property and the foundation of your home.

Determining the elevation of your home above the BFE can be approximated by you and should be confirmed by a land surveyor. The land surveyor can determine the precise elevation of your home using a surveying tool.

Step 1 - Find BFE Mark

The BFE mark for your neighborhood is made on a tree or telephone pole that will be close to your property line. The mark has a pink or red spray paint mark on it that indicate the BFE for the neighborhood relative to the Highest Existing Adjacent Grade (HEAG) of the area. The point that you are looking for is the HEAG, which is the highest elevation point for safe building.

Step 2 - Run a String Line to Your Foundation

Run a string from the BFE mark to your foundation. Tape off the line at the BFE and run it level, parallel to your home. The mark line should remain level in order for you to determine the proper elevation point.

Step 3 - Measure the Elevation

Use a tape measure to determine the number of feet the foundation of your home is relative to the BFE for your neighborhood. The base BFE can be obtained by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood plane administrator for your state or region. This information can be gathered by going to the FEMA site or calling the government numbers in the blue section of your telephone directory.

Use a land surveyor to confirm your measurements and determine the proper elevation of your home. The land surveyor can make sure that the elevation measurements are based on the BFE for the neighborhood and confirm the levels that you come up with for the home’s elevation.

Step 4 - Record the Elevation

Take several measurements to confirm your elevation. Once you have the number, record it in a log or on the house plans so that you have a number to work with. If the foundation is below the BFE, have the builder raise it to ensure that you are not subject to any flooding or effects of a natural disaster like a hurricane. Nearly every community has building code information that indicates the number of feet that the home needs to be above elevation. Check with your local building inspector’s office to determine what the standard is.

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