Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: May 10, 2016
- Who do I contact if I have questions about the program?
If you have questions about any aspect of the program after reading the FAQs, please contact your Grant Administrator for construction/municipal, reporting, or deed restriction related questions, and/or your Grant Administrator for any grant funding, or Duplication of Benefit related questions. Lists of the County Coordinators and Grant Administrators by county and municipality are available on line at http://www.nj.gov/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/hmgp.htm or by calling 609-633-0999 or 609-984-4088 or Fax to 609-984-9771.
- What is the maximum award per household and when is the HMGP funding awarded?
The maximum award per household is $30,000. HMGP is a reimbursement program. Only eligible expenses for elevation of an existing single family detached home can be reimbursed. Receipts must be submitted for 100% project cost even though FEMA is only providing up to $30,000. The homeowner will be reimbursed only after the elevation work is completed, an inspection has been performed, all required information and certifications have been provided, and a Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) has been issued. HMGP is a reimbursement only program. No HMGP funds will be disbursed during the elevation process.
- Will the reimbursement cover all costs of elevating a home? If not who is responsible for the portion of my elevation not funded by the HMGP Elevation Program?
It is unlikely that the HMGP grant will cover all costs associated with the elevation of a home. The homeowner is responsible for the entire cost of the elevation project, but can be reimbursed for eligible expenses up to $30,000
- Can I combine my Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) funds with this grant?
Yes. As long as the ICC funds are not used to pay for the same eligible activities as the HMGP grant, and there remains an unmet need after considering receipt of ICC funds.
- At what point in the RREM process will HMGP disqualify me?
If an HMGP applicant signs a preliminary grant agreement with RREM, the project will be disqualified by HMGP.
- What kind of receipts do I need to keep for reimbursement?
In order to effectively document that eligible work was both performed and paid for, HMGP, prior to reimbursement, requires not just receipts or invoices but also verification of payment (paid invoices, receipts, cancelled checks documenting payments, a bank statement that reflects the payment of an eligible expense) be provided to the program in the appropriate format.
- Each project must be monitored for construction progress and compliance with HMGP regulations prior to disbursement of funds. Who will be overseeing the construction progress and compliance?
Each homeowner and contractor is responsible for code and program compliance during construction. Local building officials permit and inspect the elevation mitigation activity for code compliance. Some projects may require State environmental permits if regulated activities occur as result of the elevation construction. The homeowner should check with their local construction official or professional to determine if any State permits are required. DEP HMGP staff will inspect the property to document work in progress or work completed but will not be inspecting for construction code compliance or safety issues that are the responsibility of the local government. FEMA and NJ OEM may inspect a property to verify compliance with program requirements.
- How is my award calculated?
Program rules require that a homeowner does not receive funding that exceeds the cost of elevating their home. The duplication of benefits (DOB) analysis takes into consideration all of the funds the owner has received/will receive. Duplication of Benefits (DOB) is the term used to describe when assistance from more than one source is used for the same purpose or activity. The purpose may constitute all or a portion of a mitigation project. Specifically, HMA funds cannot be used where an individual’s disaster recovery or disaster mitigation needs have been or will be met through other assistance. If assistance under any program or source is used for anything other than its intended purpose, a DOB may exist. In addition, as part of the DOB review, how other funds received were expended will be verified through the review of receipts, contract records, insurance records, written determinations by building inspectors or appraisers or other forms of documents approved for use by FEMA and the Grantee. DOB may apply in the following circumstances:
- When assistance for the same purpose has been received; or
- When assistance for the same purpose will be received; or
- When assistance for the same purpose is reasonably available from one or more other source(s), such as insurance, disaster loans, charitable gifts, or legal settlements; or
- When other assistance was not used for the intended purpose.
For additional information please utilize the below link:
What expenses are eligible for reimbursement?
Only expenses incurred for elevation of the home and related expenses are eligible for reimbursement if appropriately documented. Examples of eligible elevation costs include:
- Engineering services for design, structural feasibility analysis, and cost estimate preparation;
- Surveying, soil sampling, completion of elevation certificate, deed recordation fees, fees for required permits, required legal assistance, and construction management;
- Disconnection of all utilities;
- Building of a foundation so that the lowest floor is at the BFE or higher if required by local ordinance or FEMA;
- Physical elevation of the structure and subsequent lowering and attachment of the structure onto a new foundation;
- Construction of a floor system that meets minimum building code requirements when the existing floor system cannot be elevated or is not appropriate for the new foundation;
- Reconnecting of utilities and extending lines and pipes as necessary and elevating utilities and service equipment;
- Debris disposal and erosion control;
- Cost for repair of lawns, landscaping, sidewalks, and driveways if damaged by elevation activities;
- Construction of a utility room above the BFE only if there is no existing space within the house for this purpose or there is no alternative cost-effective way to elevate the utilities;
- Elevation of existing decks, porches, or stairs;
- Construction of new stairs and railings to access the elevated living space per minimum code and local ordinance;
- Construction of ADA-compliant access facilities when an owner or a member of the owner’s family has a permanent physical handicap and a physician’s written certification. Only one ADA-compliant access is allowable for funding unless specified otherwise in applicable State or local codes (for more information on ADA, see http://www.ada.gov/). If ramps are not technically feasible, a mechanical chair lift may be installed;
- Documented reasonable living expenses (except for food and personal transportation) that are incurred during the period when the owner is displaced by elevation construction;
- Abatement of asbestos and lead-based paint; and
- Basement fill-ins are eligible expenses only if required to make a property structurally sound for physical elevation.
All expenses must be thoroughly documented and documentation provided that demonstrates that the expense was in fact paid for.
What expenses are ineligible for reimbursement?
The following structure elevation activities and their associated costs are not eligible for reimbursement for the HMGP Elevation Program:
Am I responsible for finding a qualified builder and is there a list of approved contractors available to consider for my project?
- Elevating structures that were not in compliance with current NFIP standards at the time of the construction;
- Costs related to building additions or auxiliary structures;
- Construction of new decks or porches;
- Any improvements for purely aesthetic reasons unless required by the EHP compliance review. Costs to replace or repair utility service components, which are undersized, inadequately designed, or unsafe unless required by code (except utility rooms noted as eligible costs);
- Exterior finish on the exposed foundation of the elevated building, unless required by EHIP compliance review and or local code;
- Additional landscaping for ornamentation beyond what existed on the site prior to construction of the project (e.g., trees, shrubs);
- Basement fill-ins only without elevation of the structure; and
- Elevation of utilities only without elevation of the structure.
Homeowners are responsible for finding a qualified builder. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is not affiliated with any contractor or contracting firm, nor does it endorse or recommend any contractor or contracting firm. The program requires that a registered contractor is utilized and the program recommends that applicants follow FEMA guidelines for choosing a contractor. This guidance is available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/30423?id=6882 under “Building Codes Toolkit.”
Am I required to use the contractor that I provided the initial cost estimate with my application?
Homeowners are not required to use the contractor that submitted the initial cost estimate.
What if I need to change my contractor during the elevation construction?
Once a homeowner signs a contract with a contractor it is preferable that, the contractor completes the elevation construction. However, issues may arise that may require a change in contractor, if a change is necessary then the homeowner should assigned Grant Administrator as soon as possible. Please note that the HMGP Elevation Program may make allowances for changes in contractor on a case by case basis.
What types of permits and insurance do I need to elevate my home?
Required permits and insurance are determined by State and local codes and ordinances. Applicants are encouraged to consult their local building code official and their insurance company.
When must I submit my contractor’s construction schedule?
You must submit your contractor’s construction schedule to your Grant Administrator before construction actually begins. The Grant Administrator is responsible for setting-up site visits to monitor progress of the grant and the contractor’s construction schedule is the document used to perform the monitoring. Submitting the contractor’s construction schedule also assures HMGP that the applicant is moving forward in the elevation process and that the elevation construction, closeout, and reimbursement processes will all be accomplished within the 2 year period of performance set by FEMA. Please provide it to your Grant Administrator as soon as it is available to you, but in any case prior to construction. You do not need to wait for an inspection to begin construction but must have the forms signed and submitted to your Grant Administrator prior to beginning construction.
In order to complete all program requirements, including reimbursement within 2 years of the FEMA obligation date, when must my construction be finished?
All aspects of the elevation project including construction, reporting, closeout, and reimbursement must be completed within 2 years of the FEMA obligation date, which is identified in the authorization letter sent to applicants upon FEMA approval. In order to ensure that enough time is available after the construction is complete to conduct the closeout meeting, submit all required documents including all expenses and payments (100 % of project costs), have them approved by NJOEM/FEMA, submitted for reimbursement, and the payment actually made, construction is required to be completed and closeout documents received by September, 2015. Coordination with the appropriate County Coordinator is encouraged as this date approaches.
What is a deed restriction and why must I have one for flood insurance?
A deed restriction requiring that flood insurance be maintained by the current and future owners for the life of the structure receiving HMGP funding or identified on the property deed of record is required (see response to Question 21 below). This reduces the risk to the Federal Government from future flood losses on a property provided with federal funding for mitigation. Prior to receiving an award under this program, pursuant to federal law, you must obtain and maintain flood insurance on the home and file a deed restriction indicating insurance as a requirement for future homeowners for the life of the structure. As a condition of program reimbursement, the structure must be covered by flood insurance and a copy of the deed restriction indicating it has been recorded with the County Clerk must be provided to the program at closeout.
How soon after completing the elevation of my home and closeout of my application will I be reimbursed?
Reimbursement should be processed and payment should be made in approximately 45 to 60 days after the closeout documentation is complete and verified by NJDEP and a formal request for reimbursement is submitted by NJ DEP for the funds.
Do I have to submit all my elevation expenses?
Yes. Homeowners must submit documentation for all expenses (100%) incurred with verification of payment in order to be reimbursed. Only eligible costs directly related to and required to complete the elevation qualify for reimbursement under HMGP but all expenses, eligible and ineligible must be submitted so the State and Federal government can track all expenses incurred for elevation projects.
What if the estimated cost of my elevation project changes?
If the estimated cost to elevate changes please discuss with your County Coordinator or Grant Administrator. Please keep in mind that this is a reimbursement program and that actual costs incurred and verified payments will be used to determine actual award amount once you have completed elevation.
What if there is more than one structure identified on the deed that is being restricted?
All structures which are living areas (excluding garages, storage sheds, etc.) that are listed on the deed with the HMGP required restriction must be covered by flood insurance for the life of the structure and the flood insurance must be maintained by the current and future owners.
Is my award taxable?
Not generally, but each awardee is encouraged to consult a tax professional for information on how this award will affect your tax liability.
What is the total amount of flood insurance that must be maintained for the life of the property?
Flood insurance is required as a condition of receipt of a Federal grant or federally regulated financing (mortgage, SBA loan, Increased Cost of Compliance, etc.) for the structure, therefore property owners should consult with their insurance, lender, or whoever is assisting them financially, to determine the appropriate amount of insurance to purchase. For a structure elevated with an HMGP grant, flood insurance must be maintained for the life of the structure in an amount at least equal to the total project cost or maximum limit of coverage, whichever is less.
Can a temporary Certificate of Occupancy be considered sufficient for reimbursement?
Yes, provided that the temporary or conditional certificate of occupancy indicates all work pertaining to the elevation portion of a project is complete in full.
If I am participating in the program and start the process of selling my home before the actual closeout of the HMGP elevation program, can I transfer the grant to the new owner?
No, you cannot sell or transfer the title of your home until the elevation is complete and your project has successfully gone through our closeout and reimbursement processes. Should you sell or transfer the title of your home before then, you will be disqualified from the program.
How do I file my Deed Restriction? Whom should I contact to file my Deed Restriction?
Please go to the website below and click on the link on the left “Filing My Deed Restriction.” You will see instructions and the form to use by county.
Can a homeowner perform the lift on their house themselves?
No. Unless a homeowner is a registered contractor in the state of New Jersey, an applicant may not perform the lift on their home themselves.
What is my project Scope of Work (SOW)? What does that refer to?
An HMGP approved applicant agrees to comply with the approved Scope of Work (SOW) of the project as identified in the project’s application submitted via NJDEP to NJOEM/FEMA. An applicant may obtain SOW information by contacting their Grant Administrator. All approved applicants should be aware of the following:
What are Special Conditions? How do I know if my project has them?
- Budget modifications shall be provided to NJDEP as they become known by the applicant but no later than at Closeout.
- Requests to deviate from or modify the approved SOW shall be submitted to NJOEM/FEMA via NJDEP prior to beginning elevation construction. Failure to receive approval from FEMA for changes to the SOW as identified in the application prior to construction may be cause for denial of the Grant.
- The project may elevate above the approved SOW without re-review by FEMA as long as the project complies with local flood plain ordinance/BFE plus freeboard/municipal requirements and restrictions.
- Any expansion or relocation of the footprint of excavation or of the structure, including depth of excavation (including porches and decks) shall require approval from OEM/FEMA via NJDEP prior initiation of elevation construction. Expansion or relocation of the footprint prior to review and approval by FEMA may be cause for denial of the Grant.
Only a small number of projects have Special Conditions. If your project, for instance, requires Special Conditions imposed by FEMA for the grant, we have added a placeholder paragraph 16 in the Acknowledgment of Conditions (AOC) for that purpose. If no conditions are identified in Paragraph 16 of the AOC then you do not have any special conditions associated with your project other than what is otherwise listed in the AOC and generally required for the grant.
When can I begin my elevation construction?
You may begin your elevation construction only after you have received approval from FEMA via NJDEP and submitted all four of the required documents (Acknowledge of Conditions, Inspection Agreement, Certification of Structural Stability Form, and Contractor’s Construction Schedule) to your Grant Administrator and must receive approval to being construction from him/her.