An elevation certificate is a document from a surveyor that gives the elevation of key points on your home (basement floor, first floor, etc.). Those elevations can be helpful in making decisions about how to protect your property. In the future they will be used to determine what your flood insurance rates will be. Do you need one right now?
Reasons to get an elevation certificate:
If you think there's a chance that the lowest adjacent grade (ground level) to your house is above the base flood elevation for your neighborhood. If it is, you may be eligible to be removed from the floodplain using a Letter of Map Amendment.
If you are on high ground or near the edge of the mapped floodplain, or you don't have a basement. The risk-based flood insurance rate for your property could be better than the subsidized rate you are currently paying.
If you are considering making changes to your home to protect from flooding. Knowing what your elevation is can help you find out which options are right for you.
If you are considering selling your home. An elevation certificate can be important to potential buyers.
If you want to understand your risk better.
If none of those things are true, you probably don't need an elevation certificate. It is possible that the National Flood Insurance Program will find a different method to identify home elevations for insurance purposes in the next five or ten years.
If you decide to get an elevation certificate:
Check with your neighbors to see if they are considering it also. You will usually get a better rate from a surveyor if they are doing several surveys in the same neighborhood.
Submit a copy to the Lansing Office of Emergency Management to be placed on file for your house. Having those on file may help lower flood insurance rates for all floodplain residents in the future.