Frequently Asked Questions About the Flood Elevation Mitigation Program
My house floods. Is assistance available?
The Sonoma County Community Development Commission (SCCDC) through the Sonoma County Flood Elevation Program offers FEMA-funded grants to both residential homeowners and owners of long-term rental properties to elevate dwellings a minimum of 1 foot above BFE (Base Flood Elevation). BFE is commonly thought of as a "100-year" flood level. However, a more accurate definition of BFE would be the "100 storms" flood level. Please check with SCCDC Construction Services staff to determine if your home is eligible.
Are there other terms and conditions?
- You must be the legal owner of the property
- Property taxes and the flood insurance policy must be current
- Once elevation is complete, the new underfloor area may only be used for storage
- The program can only provide funding for the elevation of flood-prone dwellings.
- The program does not provide funding for housing rehabilitation. There are other energy and housing rehabilitation programs for which you may qualify. Please inquire about them.
Must I pay the money back?
No. The funds are provided as a grant. No fund repayment is necessary.
What is the maximum amount of money I can receive?
The FEMA grant may cover a minimum of 75% of the eligible project cost, depending on the funding award. The owner must provide the balance of the funds required to complete the project.
Are there income limits?
No. All income levels are eligible for the grant program
I have been cited for Building Code violations. Can you still help?
Perhaps. Assistance is dependent on the extent of the violations. Existing violations must be addressed to obtain an elevation building permit. Ask us about your specific problems.
Are there other property repairs that are required to be part of the project?
Often times there are repairs that must be made to support the elevated structure properly. The cost to the owner is dependent on the extent of the necessary repairs. New stairs, landings, extended plumbing, and electrical connections, etc., are all standard flood elevation construction items.
Must I invest money in the project before the work can begin?
Yes. All design, engineering and surveying costs are incurred by the owner prior to plan submission to Permit Sonoma (PRMD the local building department). The design expenses are applied as a credit to the owner shared cost of the construction of the project.
Award recipients are not required to use the professionals on the list of SCCDC approved designer/engineers. However, design and engineering professionals who have no experience with the Sonoma County Flood Elevation Program are required to meet with SCCDC staff prior to initiating design work.
The owner selects a designer. The designer develops the following preliminary drawing that reflect existing building conditions; site plan, existing floor plan, existing elevations from 4 directions (views of the north, south, east and west sides of the building).
A meeting is arranged between the owner, designer, and an SCCDC representative. The intent of the meeting is to examine existing conditions, identify the project scope and reduce client/owner expectation of what the program will pay for.
The drawings are developed by the designer and engineer for the project. An SCCDC representative reviews the drawings for grant compliance and acts as the owner's agent in submitting the plans to Permit Sonoma for review, as well as paying for the plan check fees with grant funds.
Who performs the construction? May I do it myself?
No work may be completed by the owner. Only a general building contractor licensed in the state of California may perform the construction work. SCCDC maintains a list of approximately 20 pre-qualified general building contractors whose financial background, personal character, federal eligibility, vendor and construction references have been examined.
May I select a contractor who is not on the SCCDC eligibility list?
No. However, if you know of a contractor who is not on the CDC eligibility list, the contractor may apply to be qualified for the CDC list. Assuming the builder meets the CDC requirements, the contractor may bid on your project.
Does the SCCDC choose the project contractor?
No. The project owner may select any prequalified contractor who has submitted an eligible bid to perform the work. An eligible contractor bid must be complete and may be no higher than the internal cost estimate performed by SCCDC staff.
How is the contractor paid?
The construction contract allows for periodic phase payments. The contractor submits a payment request. SCCDC staff inspects the project to be certain than the work has been done to contract specifications, and has been inspected by a Permit Sonoma building inspector. SCCDC sends a check directly to the contractor.
Are there legal conditions recorded against my property?
A Deed Restriction is recorded with the Sonoma County Recorder's Office that states that the area below the BFE (base flood elevation), the lower level, may only be used for limited storage, a garage, or for underfloor access purposes. Additionally, a Notice of Completion is recorded when the elevation project has been completed.