House raising in New Jersey is doing very well, but that wasn’t always the case. After the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released new elevation standards for areas that were affected or could be affected in the future. These were called Base Flood Elevations (BFE) and are the computed elevation to which floodwater is expected to rise during a base flood.
Flood insurance rates increased dramatically for those whose houses weren’t above the BFE. Consecutively, the demand for house raising in New Jersey also increased. House lifting companies started popping up all along the east coast. Many were legitimate, created in the hopes of helping New Jersey residents lift their houses to new heights. However, there were no laws or regulations for house lifters at the time. Other companies saw the demand merely as an economic opportunity. Inexperienced and underqualified, these companies cut corners and as a result, dropped houses.
Less than a year after the storm, three homeowners experienced losing their homes all over again. One house in Little Egg fell in the month of July, 2013 where three workers were injured and two houses in Highlands fell in August and September, 2013. A bill centered on making home lifting safer was already going through legislation at that time. Long established house lifting companies such as W.A. Building Movers, among others, were huge proponents of the bill. They argued that not mandating expertise in the house lifting field would invite even more tragedy. The bill finally passed and was put into effect a little over a year later on October 15, 2014.
Since then, companies were and are required to register annually with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. In order to register, contractors need to meet the following requirements:
- They have at least two years of experience as a home improvement contractor
- The person actually performing the elevation has at least five years of experience in home elevation
- They carry at least $1 million of commercial general liability insurance per property and an additional $500,000 of insurance to cover the contents of the home being elevated
- They use a home elevation-jacking machine that can lift the entire structure at once
These requirements have successfully filtered out inexperience and ill-equipped companies. Before the bill went into effect, there were almost 100 contractors offering house lifting services in New Jersey. Today, less than half of that number are registered, licensed and active house lifters. Homeowners in New Jersey can now have peace of mind knowing that their houses are in safe hands.
To check the status of a house lifting company and to verify their license, click here.
For more information on house lifting, click here.