Iowa City requires elevation certificates (ECs) for all new or substantially improved structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), as described in Iowa City’s Zoning Ordinance, 14-5J.

When a property owner requests a permit to build a new structure, remodel an existing structure, or repair a damaged structure, the Iowa City Building Division staff will determine if the parcel is within the SFHA. If the parcel is within the SFHA, a floodplain development permit will be required.

If the structure itself is within the SFHA, an EC will be required at the conclusion of the project if any of the following are applicable:

  1. The structure is newly constructed; or
  2. An existing structure is being remodeled or repaired, and the value of the work is equal to or greater than 50% of the structure’s value before the remodel/repair; or
  3. An existing structure is being remodeled with an addition that increases the original floor area by 25% or more. 

At the time an EC is submitted, it is reviewed and approved by Iowa City’s floodplain administrator, who is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM®).  If corrections are required, the EC is returned for revisions with errors noted. 

A Certificate of Occupancy for a new building will not be issued until a complete and correct EC is received. 

All ECs are saved by the Floodplain Manager in two locations: the EC is retained with building permit documentation, and in a separate database of all ECs for new and substantially improved structures in Iowa City flood hazard areas. 

ECs are available for review upon request, and are easy to reference and locate through the online permit database system.

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For more information on Iowa Floodplain and Stormwater Management Association, visit

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For more information on FEMA, visit

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