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Please see the various 50% Rule FAQ’s and publications available at the links below:
FMB 50% Rule FAQ:
FEMA 50% Rule FAQ:
FEMA Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage Desk Reference (In-Depth Information regarding the 50% Rule – 174 pages):
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The Town of Fort Myers Beach is Estero Island. Some properties are not on Estero Island (e.g. those on San Carlos Island and the surrounding area) but they have a “Fort Myers Beach, FL” mailing address for the U.S. postal service. Those properties are within the jurisdictional limits of Unincorporated Lee County and property owners for those addresses must go to the Lee County Building Division (in downtown Fort Myers) for permitting, or visit https://www.leegov.com/dcd/BldPermitServ
Permits expire and become null and void if work is not started and an inspection requested within 180 days from the issuance date of the permit. Once the permit has been issued, a permit continues to extend with every passing inspection.
Extensions may be granted upon request before the expiration of the permit and will be extended 90 days if approved. If the permit becomes expired, a completion may be re-open upon request for 6 months.
It is best to contact the Town's Building Services Department early on in the planning process of any kind of building or remodeling project to find out what permits are needed.
239-765-0202 ext. 2
Visit the permitting section on the Town's website.
Watch an educational session about permitting conducted at a Town Council meeting and led by staff from the Building Services Department. Session starts at 1:30:43
In general, condo remodeling of any kind almost always requires a permit due to the potential impact on other condos in the building. New construction of any building or structure large or small (pool, porch, deck, garage, house) will require some level of permitting. The below lists are a general guide for common projects in homes or condos.
PLEASE ALWAYS CONTACT THE TOWN when you are planning a project to find out what permits are required for your specific project. Every project has differences that could make permitting necessary. Speaking directly with the Town's permitting staff is the best course of action to make sure your particular project is properly covered by the appropriate permits.
Common projects that DO require a permit:
Common projects that DO NOT require a permit:
Please call us to discuss these common projects as the specifics of the situation may or may not make a permit necessary.
The Code Compliance Division will issue a notice of violation. Once a permit is obtained, the cost could be 3 to 5 times the building permit fee for an "After the Fact" permit. Additionally, there may be fees from a third party engineer evaluation if areas of work are obscured.
For questions regarding a Code Compliance Case, please reach out to the Code Compliance Officer who is handling your case. Their contact information is located on the notice they provided at the address, and the fmbgov.com website.
You can apply for a building permit using the IWorQ online permitting system.
Permitting information: http://www.fmbgov.com/building
Applications are found in the Applications and Forms section of the Building Services webpage:
Submit completed application documents and other required documentation together as one submittal using the IWorQ citizen engagement portal at the following link:
To submit permit applications: https://fortmyers.portal.iworq.net/portalhome/fortmyers
Once the permit is issued you can check the permit status, pay fees, print permits and approved job site plans, schedule inspections, and check inspection results using the permit portal:
All permitting-related emails, resubmittals and to add additional documents to the application after initial online submittal, permitting questions, etc.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inspections questions or cancellation requests: email@example.com
Contractor registration, license, and insurance updates: firstname.lastname@example.org
Replying to a plan review rejection letter: email@example.com
Any total replacement of exterior window or door units requires a building permit. All structures in wind-borne debris regions (all of the Town of Fort Myers Beach) are required by Florida Building Code to have some means of opening protection for the exterior glazed fenestrations (glass). This can be in the form of impact-resistant windows, doors, or shutters that are impact rated and have a current Florida Product Approval number or Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA). The Florida Product Approval numbers or NOA's for all windows and doors being replaced as part of the scope of work of the permit must be included in the permit application documents. Replacement of windows or doors in Fort Myers Beach requires a window/door/shutter permit, obtained through the IWorQ online permitting system at http://www.fmbgov.com/building
Documentation must also be provided in the permit application documents showing design pressure compliance with the Florida Building Code. There are 3 methods for showing compliance from which to choose. For more information, see also the shutter, window, or door application and instructions at the link below:
Review times vary based on permit type, complexity, and the number of reviews required by law. Demolition, roofing, and over-the-counter trade permits are generally processed within hours, but allow up to ten to fifteen business days for review of new developments such as new single-family homes and commercial projects. If your permits require corrections, the permit applicant will need to resend corrected documents and this will extend the total processing/review times accordingly. When the reviews are complete, the permitting desk will contact the applicant via email.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach Building Services division is a small division with no building code plans examiners or building code inspectors budgeted as Town positions. The Town utilizes a private provider for floodplain reviews, building code reviews, and building code inspections. Please email or call the licensed plans examiner or inspector who conducted your plan review (their contact information is provided with their review comments) if you have questions about their review or inspection, or need a clarification of their correction comments. Applicants with questions about permit processing can address their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the project address. The permitting staff will then be able to locate the exact application in the system and help them.
If your permit is for construction involving a residential building with 3 or more units or a non-residential building, the permit application will also be reviewed by the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District. The Fire District has provided the following time estimates for their review of permits:
A site plan is required with permit applications. Examples include, but are not limited to, remodels, residential new construction, and commercial new construction. Please refer to the instructions and requirements listed on the permit application form for more information. Site plans must be prepared and sealed when required by law by a professional architect or engineer licensed in the State of Florida.
Temporary power pole installations require a trade permit and an electrical inspection. The inspection is requested by the permit holder after the temporary power pole is installed but prior to electric activation. Following a passed inspection, the Town will notify Florida Power & Light (FPL) to activate electrical service to the pole.
All permit applications are exclusively accepted using the IWorQ online permitting system.
All permitting forms are found at: https://fortmyers.portal.iworq.net/portalhome/fortmyers
Once the permit is issued you can check the permit status, pay fees, print permits and approved job site plans, schedule inspections, and check inspection results using the permit portal:
The Building Services Division is currently receiving a high volume of permit applications and questions and our team is working diligently to help everyone as quickly as possible. To help us serve you and all customers more effectively, we are requesting that all those with questions first review the answers to our most frequently asked questions.
If your question is not answered after reading the FAQs, Building Services staff can be contacted via email at email@example.com, via telephone at 239-765-0202, or in-person at the temporary Town Hall complex at 2545 Estero Boulevard just south of the damaged Town Hall. We are happy to answer any further questions you may have.
Contractor- Submit a request on a contractors letterhead requesting an extension. The letter will need to include the permit #, the project address and an authorized signature from the company.
Owner Builder- Email a written request to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting an extension. The letter will need to include the permit #, the project address and a notarized signature from the owner.
Please refer to our Building Permit Fee Schedule which is available on our Building Services Page:
FY2023 Building permits fee schedule
Online by credit card through the PERMIT PORTAL
In the IWorQ citizen request portal system, requests sent in through the citizen engagement request portal (including, but not limited to, permit applications) are now trackable from the customer side through the same request portal page that is used to submit a citizen request. The Citizen Request Portal link is posted on the Building Services website:
Citizen Request Portal
Click on the REQUEST PORTAL to submit your request.
Direct link: https://fortmyers.portal.iworq.net/portalhome/fortmyers
After clicking on the request portal link, you can view request progress by clicking on the “Find Your Request Here” icon:
Request status can be located in a number of different ways by choosing various options from the pull-down menu. Select your choice, enter your identifying information into the “Search” field, and click the “Search” button:
When results appear, click "View" on your request.
The request status will be shown on the next screen:
A status of “pending” means that the request has been received and is still in the incoming queue. It will be processed in the order received. When the request is processed, a notification of the change of status will be emailed to the email address provided by the permit applicant.
Once a complete permit application is received (all required documents and information is received in one permit application request with all documents properly completed), a permit number is created and the documents are forwarded for building code review and various other reviews as applicable for that project. A notification of the change of status is emailed to the email address provided by the permit applicant.
Once a permit is created and a permit number is issued, the permit status becomes trackable online through the IWorQ Permit Portal. Note that this is different than the Citizen Request Portal mentioned previously. This link is also posted at the Building Services page:
Click here PERMIT SEARCH
Direct link: https://portal.iworq.net/FORTMYERSBEACH/permits/600
If your initial permit application requires a correction to the submitted documents, the applicant will be emailed with an explanation of the needed corrections and the original request number is voided. Please use the IWorQ system to submit all required documents to process the application. When resubmitting documents, include any missing documents/information that was requested in addition to any documents originally submitted which did not require a correction. This is needed to maintain organization among the hundreds of permit applications and emailed questions/paperwork arriving daily in the system. Note that this new permit request will create a new “request number.”
If your initial permit application has cleared the initial completion check and has been sent to review for zoning, floodplain, or building code compliance, email your response along with the rejection letter that was sent to you to: email@example.com
Paper submittals are no longer accepted.
To submit permit applications, go online through the REQUEST PORTAL.
*BE SURE to read and adhere to “Request Portal Submittal Requirements” under the REQUEST PORTAL
To reinstate a permit, you must submit a completion request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Once the Permitting Department receives the letter, an email with an invoice showing the completion fees will be sent and the building permit will be reinstated once the fees are paid.
This information, and other information on the Town website, is not intended to be legal advice or a complete explanation of property owners responsibilities in regard to construction projects. For more in-depth information and legal advice, please consult with a competent and experienced construction lawyer licensed in the State of Florida.
The Notice of Commencement (NOC) can be generally described as a form publicly filed in county records to signify that a construction project is beginning. The form identifies and describes the property and the improvements to be made, the names and addresses of the property owner and contractor, the lender’s name and address, and other required information.
In Florida, similar to other states, any subcontractor or supplier to a construction job can file a mechanics lien if they’re unpaid for work or materials provided to the job. If a lien claim is filed against a job, regardless of whether the property owner paid the general contractor, the property owner may be required to pay the claim. This means you can be required to pay for the same work twice. Florida law helps to provide protection to property owners against this undesirable scenario, but the Florida process to protect property owners against lien claims and double-payment must begin with the correct and timely recording of the NOC on the public records of the county.
Florida law (F.S. section 713.13(1)(a)) requires the property owner to file a NOC with the Lee County Clerk of the Court if the job valuation for their permitted work is greater than $2,500, or if there is a direct contract to repair or replace an existing heating or air-conditioning system is greater than $15,000 (F.S. section 713.135(1)(d)).
The exception is if a property owner has a construction loan to complete the job. In this scenario, the construction lender assumes the obligation to file the notice of commencement and to track all payments to contractors, suppliers, and vendors. In the event of any mismanagement or mistake by the construction lender, the lender is required to indemnify the owner. As such, matters are much simpler for property owners when a construction lender is on the job.
Property owners must get the NOC recorded on the County public records before the start of the job. It is not required that the NOC is recorded before obtaining the building permit. The NOC must be recorded before work begins on the project and the work must start within 90 days from the NOC’s filing.
Before scheduling the first inspection, the permit applicant must also email the recorded NOC to the Building Division and must post a copy of the recorded NOC at the job site. This must be provided to the Building Department in one of the two following ways (FS 713.135(d)):
Certified copy of the recorded NOC, or
A notarized statement from the owner, or the owner’s authorized agent, of the property stating that a NOC has been filed for recording to the Lee County Clerk of the Court, along with a copy of the NOC submitted for recording. The Lee County Clerk of the Court is located at 2115 Second Street in Fort Myers, or 1039 SE 9th Place in Cape Coral. For more information, please visit https://www.leeclerk.org/services/record-a-document
The property owner must also post a copy of the recorded NOC on the job site throughout construction in a weather protected condition, visible from the street, along with the permit and approved plans (available under uploaded files for the permit in the permit portal).
Note that to protect themselves against lien claims, property owners must follow all requirements in regard to Florida lien law including, but not limited to, making only proper payments. As an example, if a contractor provides the property owner with 45-day Notice to Owner, the property owner needs to obtain a lien release from their contractors and suppliers whenever they issue a payment to the contractor that includes work performed or materials provided by that contractor or suppliers.
We are experiencing very high permitting volume after Hurricane Ian and we are processing as quickly as possible. It will likely be reviewed and processed within 15 business days.
We are accepting all building permit applications.
Required specs are as noted:Column size and widthSpacing- size of joistsRailing detailWidth of steps and riser distanceSize of beamsHow it will be attachedHow bolts and anchors are attachedDecking detailDepth of posts
FS 553.73(10)(i) Chickees constructed by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida or the Seminole Tribe of Florida. As used in this paragraph, the term “chickee” means an open-sided wooden hut that has a thatched roof of palm or palmetto or other traditional materials, and that does not incorporate any electrical, plumbing, or other nonwood features.
If a member of the Miccosukee or Seminole Tribe desires to build a chickee hut, the following submittals are required for exemption from the Florida Building Code.
If electricity or plumbing is proposed in the tiki hut, the Residential Building Permit Application must be submitted with all required plans, application, permit, and review fees will apply.
If your scope of work is limited to only drywall (on non-firewalls), trim, cabinets, paint work, and finished flooring, and no electric, plumbing, HVAC, or structural work is required, a building permit and corresponding inspections to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code is not required. However, for NFIP-compliance measures, the Town requires a completed repair/improvement cost form (with the total cost, labor and materials, itemized for all repairs needed to bring the building back to its pre-damaged condition). The form is located at the link below:
REPAIR/ IMPROVEMENT COST FORM
Please email the form to email@example.com prior to beginning work.
The FMB floodplain management ordinance (division 9, section 6-494) states that “any proposed value submitted via a private appraisal that exceeds the [Lee County] property appraiser's valuation more than 35 percent may be subject to peer review by a qualified local appraiser or submittal of a new independent appraisal, with the full cost of the review or new appraisal paid by the applicant.” The property appraiser’s valuation is the “building value” in the table found on the tax roll value letter for that building at LEEPA.org.
We have obtained an AVM appraisal-Automated Value Model. Our mortgage banker indicated this was a very common method used to appraise property for their lending purposes. Will an AVM "appraisal" Our mortgage banker indicated this was a very common method used to appraise property for their lending purposes.
The reproduction cost method cannot be used, however you can use an independent appraisal of the building’s market value prepared and certified by a Florida-licensed property appraiser if you so choose, instead of the Lee County Property Appraiser valuation. You would include the appraisal as an additional attachment along with your building permit application. The floodplain coordinator will review the appraisal for the 50% substantial damage determination, and it will not add to processing time.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach floodplain ordinance allows for a determination of building market value using either of the following two methods:
See questions 4 and 5 at our 50% Rule FAQ below: https://www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/1254/FEMAs-50-Rule
There are a variety of requirements (federal, state, local) that need to be followed regarding rebuilding, and different properties have different situations in terms of how the construction came to be. This means that the answer to that question is “it depends on the situation.”
The 50% rule applies first to any improved or damaged primary building, regardless of the use or occupancy. The cost to repair the entire building to its pre-damaged condition is compared to 50% of the calculated market value of the entire structure prior to sustaining damage.
The first question that must be answered is whether the building has been “substantially damaged,” meaning that the cost to repair the entire structure to its pre-damaged state will exceed 50% of the building’s pre-damaged market value (aka the 50% rule).
You must first determine the total repair costs to return the building to its pre-damaged condition. This is usually done by obtaining bids from one or more general, building, or residential contractors. Compare the total cost of these estimates to 50% of the pre-damaged building market value. If the total cost (labor and materials) to repair the building to its pre-damaged condition is less than 50% of the market value of the pre-damaged structure (the entire building), you can generally repair the existing construction in place under the stipulations provided in the Town’s Post-Disaster Buildback Ordinance without having to bring the entire building up to the currently enforced building codes and floodplain management regulations. However, see more information below in step 2, and note that it must have been a code-compliant and permitted installation in your flood zone originally.
However, buildings that are substantially damaged (over 50% of the pre-damaged building market value) need to meet the currently enforced building codes and floodplain management regulations. There are many floodplain regulations but the most notable is that new buildings, or substantially damaged or improved buildings (over 50% of their pre-damaged building value), must have their lowest-floor elevation raised to at least the base flood elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) plus one additional foot of freeboard (BFE + 1’).
For more information, see also the 50% Rule FAQ page:
If the building’s repair costs do not exceed the 50% threshold, the second consideration is whether the existing construction (e.g. a living area built below the current flood protection level of BFE + 1’ freeboard) was a legally built structure, and an approved use, and whether it was legally built prior to the jurisdiction’s adoption of the flood information rate maps (“pre-FIRM) and regulations in 1984.
For the property to be rebuilt the same as it was prior to Hurricane Ian, the property owner must provide documentation that shows that it was legally built and there are various other stipulations outlined in the Town’s “Post Disaster Build Back Ordinance:”
In the Town’s Comprehensive Plan (Policy 4-D-1), it states, “The Land Development Code may also establish procedures to document actual uses, densities, and intensities, and compliance with regulations in effect at the time of construction, through such means as photographs, diagrams, plans, affidavits, permits, appraisals, tax records, etc.”
Property owners who are making these decisions are welcome to reach out to the Town’s planning staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Property owners should assemble as much documentation as they can which supports their assertion that their building is not “substantially damaged,” and that the construction was a legally existing pre-FIRM structure (a structure legally in place prior to the adoption of the Flood Insurance Rate Map). The planning staff are happy to look into the specific situation and provide a determination for the property owner.
The Town recommends that you consult with a design professional (Florida-licensed engineer or architect) and a general contractor to help you determine design criteria for your structure if you are constructing a new building or have a building that is substantially damaged or substantially improved. Once you have their design and estimates, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about what will work best for your circumstances.
However, here are some links to codes enforced and other useful resources:
Codes Enforced by the Town of Fort Myers Beach:
Water-filled swimming pools must be maintained in a sanitary condition and must be protected with an effective swimming pool barrier. State law requires property owners to maintain barriers if there is water in the pool. Note also that Florida has an “attractive nuisance” doctrine (F.S. 823.08) that holds property owners responsible for a child’s injuries if the child suffered an injury by a feature or object on the owner’s premises that is likely to attract children.
The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Chapter 515, Florida Statutes) requires pool safety measures. It is the intent of the Legislature that all new residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs be equipped with at least one pool safety feature. For more information about Safety Barrier Guidelines for Pools, including required dimensions and specifications of barriers, please review the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Consumer Safety Brochure about barriers required by section 515.31(2) Florida Statutes:
The list of registered contractors with the Town of Fort Myers Beach is at: https://www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/DocumentCenter/View/19633/FMB-Registered-Contractor-List-as-of-10-14-22
It is recommended that property owners verify the standing of a contractor’s license at http://www.myfloridalicense.com. Click on “Verify a license,” or go directly to: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=
If you live in a condominium you need a contractor. If you own and occupy your single-family or two-family house you may be eligible to act as your own contractor per State statutes section 489.103 (7).
If you own and occupy your one or two-family house you may be eligible to act as your own general contractor per s. 489.103 (7) F.S., also known as being an “owner builder.” To be an owner builder, the property must be listed under the owner’s name(s), not an LLC, trust, corporation, or separate legal entity. The property must be for the owners own use or occupancy, not used as a rental, for a period extending one year following the completion of construction. If applying for a permit as an owner builder, the property owner must sign the Owner Builder Disclosure Affidavit and include this signed affidavit with their building permit application. This disclosure affidavit has more information about being an owner builder and should be reviewed carefully by the applicant prior to signing. The owner builder must be able to complete all the work themselves, they must supervise the work, and they must hire licensed trade subcontractors (i.e. electrical, plumbing, hvac, and roofing.) If hiring sub-contractors, include a completed Sub-contractor Confirmation Form for each contractor along with the permit application.
The Town remains neutral and doesn’t recommend any particular professional. However, you can get contact information for contractors, suppliers, and professional organizations through the Disaster Contractors Network at https://dcnonline.org/. You may want to contact several building industry professionals in the area and ask for their recommendations or contact one or more of the Design and Construction Trade and Professional Associations (such as the Lee County Building Industry Association) for their recommendation. If the same names come up repeatedly as a recommendation, you might consider contacting those individuals/firms.
Contractors registration form.
Additional documents needed:
While the Town of Fort Myers Beach does not demolish homes, you may first wish to apply for federal assistance through http://www.IanDebrisCleanup.com
A demolition (demo) permit must be obtained before any structure is demolished/removed. A demo permit is secured through the Town by the demolition contractor. The demo permit application is located at the Building Services Applications and Forms page below:
After issuance of a demo permit, the contractor must request and pass inspections from the Lee County Utilities Department, the Town of Fort Myers Beach (FMB) Utilities Department, and the FMB Building Services Division. The purpose is to ensure that the sewer lateral and water meter are properly capped off before demolition begins.
After obtaining a demolition permit, the following steps must be completed by the demolition contractor:
If your intent is to demolish your building, first contact your insurance adjuster as some costs may be covered. You may also qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance coverage through your flood insurance.
If you have a substantial damage determination letter issued to you for your building, you should forward this letter to your insurance adjuster. If you had flood insurance, they will be able to provide you with more detailed information regarding your current insurance coverage and potential elevation of your structure (lower insurance premiums at a higher elevation, increased cost of compliance coverage, etc). You will then be able to make an informed decision regarding elevating your existing structure or demolishing the structure and building a new structure with a higher first floor elevation.
A demolition permit (demo permit) is secured through the Town by your contractor, should you decide to go the demo and rebuild route. When you are ready to demolish a one-family or two-family home, you may have a Florida general, building, residential, or demolition specialty contractor of your choice apply for a demolition permit through the IWorQ online permitting system at http://www.fmbgov.com/building. The contractor will remove the home.
The Demolition permit application form to complete and send in using the IWorQ online permitting portal is:
If you’re pulling the demo permit as an owner-builder, also complete and include the Owner Builder Disclosure Affidavit with your permit application:
Submit the demo permit and any associated paperwork via IWorQ citizen engagement portal:
If there is an open Code Compliance case associated with your project, after the permit is issued please contact the Code Compliance officer who is responsible for your case so they close the case.
The Town has a limited number of elevation certificates on file. The elevation certificates that are available in Town records are at the elevation certificate link on the left side of the flood information page below: https://www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/731/Flood-Information
It is possible to elevate any building, including closed foundation types such as slabs on grade or stem walls. The elevation cost will be higher with closed foundation types than buildings with open foundation types such as piers, posts, pilings, or columns. The “50% rule for substantial damage” determines whether the building’s lowest floor is required to be elevated further. If the lowest floor of the home is currently below the required elevation (Base Flood Elevation shown on the flood insurance rate map at the link below, plus one foot of freeboard), the lowest floor of the building will be required to be elevated to BFE + 1 foot elevation if the building’s repair costs will exceed the 50% damage threshold. If the building, and all the utilities servicing the building, is already elevated above the BFE + 1’ elevation, the building is not required to be elevated to at least the BFE + 1’ elevation.
The lowest floor is the floor of the lowest enclosed area in a building (including a basement), except when the criteria listed in the definition of Enclosed Area below Lowest Floor are met. An unfinished or flood resistant enclosure, usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage in an area other than a basement area is not considered a building's lowest floor; provided, that such enclosure is not built to render the structure in violation of the applicable non-elevation design requirements of Section 60.3 CFR.
The elevation reference point depends on the most restrictive flood zone in which any portion of the building resides. In an A flood zone (any flood zone which starts with the letter A), the lowest floor elevation is calculated as the top of the lowest floor of elevated living area. Non-conditioned/enclosed areas located below the elevated structure which are used exclusively for limited storage, parking, or building access do not count as the “lowest floor”. If a building is located partially or entirely in a V flood zone (coastal high hazard area which has additional hazards due to wind and wave action), the lowest floor elevation reference point is the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member supporting the elevated lowest floor: