Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage

Substantial Damage and Substantial Improvement

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and St Pete Beach have flood damage prevention regulations that may affect how you remodel, renovate, or add on to your building in order to better protect lives and investment from future flood damages. 

If your home or business is in a mapped flood hazard area, is not built to the current design flood elevation, and is determined to be “substantially damaged” or “substantially improved”, it must be brought into compliance with the St Pete Beach Floodplain Management Ordinance and Florida Building Code, including possibly elevating the building and all electrical and mechanical equipment above the 100-year flood elevation or demolishing the structure. Only parking, building access, and limited storage are allowed below the flood level. Usually this applies to the remodeling of older structures, but it also affects structures that have sustained major damage.

Substantial Damage means damage of any origin sustained by a building structure whereby the cost of restoring the building or structure to its before-damaged condition would equal at least 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the damage occurred. [Also defined in FBC, B, Section 202.]

Substantial Improvement means any combination of repair, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a building or structure taking place during a rolling five (5) year period, the cost of which is at least 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the first improvement or repair is started. The rolling 5 year period of accumulation for a building or structure begins on the date the first permit is issued. If the building or structure has incurred “substantial damage”, any repairs are considered substantial improvement regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either: 

1.    Any project for improvement of a building required to correct existing health, sanitary, or safety code violations identified by the building official and that are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions.

2.    Any alteration of a historic structure provided the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a historic structure.

Market Value means the value of buildings and structures, excluding the land and other improvements on the parcel. The term refers to the actual cash value (like-kind replacement cost depreciated for age, wear and tear, neglect, and quality of construction), determined by a qualified independent appraiser, or the “Just Value” of the structure, developed by the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office (PAO) for Ad Valorem taxation purposes, adjusted to approximate market value, as determined by the PAO. NOTE: The Market Value of a property will remain fixed from the date the first permit is issued.

Permit required

Phasing of improvements, such as multiple or consecutive projects, is not permitted. The cost of all work is included in substantial improvement and substantial damage determinations. Re-roofs, impact windows, and replacement of certain ancillary equipment, such as water heaters, AC systems, and electrical panels, may be replaced as necessary as determined by the City’s Floodplain Administrator. 

St Pete Beach determines “substantial damage” and “substantial improvement” and enforces floodplain regulations to ensure federally backed flood insurance is made available to St Pete Beach residents and property owners.

If you see illegal development in the floodplain, please report the issue HERE.


St Pete Beach Code of Ordinances – Section 98-122.4

FEMA Substantial Improvement / Damage Packet

Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting

Enclosures and Breakaway Walls

Storm Damage – What To Do