If there was one thing that Superstorm Sandy taught us, it’s that we were not as prepared as we thought. Hundreds of thousands of people along the northeast coast suffered from major flood damage to their homes due to the storm. Had these houses been properly elevated though, the amount of damage could have been avoided. That is why, soon after the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released new elevation standards for homes in Long Island and across the coast. It became a regulatory requirement to raise your house above the area’s Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Base Flood Elevations are the computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during a base flood and they vary from place to place. Elevating a house above the BFE flood-proofs a structure. Only the foundation is exposed to flooding while the living area is safe above.
Although it is a regulatory requirement to raise your house above the BFE, if you don’t, you’ll have to pay a higher amount of flood insurance – $90,000 more, over the course of 10 years. Homeowners whose houses are 4 feet below the BFE will typically pay $9,500 a year for flood insurance and therefore, $95,000 in 10 years. In contrast, homeowners whose houses are 4 feet above the BFE will pay about $427 a year, totaling to $4,270 in 10 years. The choice is easy. The process? Depends.
House Raising Long Island: Grant Money
You may have been wondering, “well, how much does it cost to raise a house in Long Island?” Unfortunately, the range is so broad that it is almost impossible to give an estimate without looking at the structure first. Fortunately, however, there is grant money that FEMA has allocated for house lifting in Long Island. These grants cover:
- Pre-Design: Soil test, elevation certificate, survey to determine your current site conditions and parameters
- Engineering/architectural design (Historic review): A licensed architect and engineer to provide plans and specifications to meet proper guidelines to conform to FEMA guidelines and state and town requirements.
- Lift and set down – roll off/on if necessary: Lift and set down of the home onto a new foundation at the new required elevation once a new suitable foundation is provided.
- Demo/build foundation: To occur once the house is lifted a new foundation will be prepared as per the approved set of plans.
- Flood vents – if required (Be careful w/net free area): As per engineer/architect plans flood vents will be installed to meet the net free area.
- Stairs/utility stands/lift if prescribed by DR: New stairs will be constructed to meet the new elevation of the home along with the reconnect of the utilities to meet the new elevations.
- Landscape repair/SOD if needed: The repair of landscaping and SOD if as needed due to construction.
- Sidewalk sections if removed for elevation: Replace sidewalk and or sections of walkway that may be removed as necessary to complete the lift and set down and reconstruction
As with anything government related, getting the grant money can take some time. It’s just a matter of applying and following up with your application until you do. To apply for a house lifting grant, click here.
House Raising Long Island: Before the lift
Many house lifting companies in Long Island specialize only in the actual lift and set down of a house. This means other contractors, architects and/or engineers are doing the rest of the work to complete the job. Homeowners typically hire a general contractor to run their house lifting project. But if you want to run it yourself, there are a few steps you need to complete before a house lifting company can come on site to lift your home.
First you have to talk to local and town officials to find out what the requirements are in your area to get approved to lift your home. The second is to hire an architect to prepare drawing plans for your new foundation, stairs, utilities and all other items you need in order to elevate it. You can find one yourself or ask the house lifting company you’re working with if they have any recommendations. W.A. Building Movers has been working with many architects and engineers for decades and has excellent connections. Third is to contact utility companies to shut off all the utilities in your home. This includes: electric, water, sewer, gas and cable. Note: It can take up to 4-6 weeks to get approval and permits, so get started on this as soon as possible. Once all the permits are in order and the house lift is completely approved, then a house lifting company can come on site to lift the home.
House Raising Long Island: The lift process
- When the house lifting company shows up to your site, the first thing they do is excavate and clear the area around and under the house enough to slide metal beams under the house. Cribs are built up to the metal beams as support and in order to station hydraulic jacks beneath the beams. The weight of the house varies from section to section so house lifters use a hydraulic unified jacking system to lift the house. This system ensures that the house is raised evenly no matter how much weight is on each jack.
- Typically, homes are lifted 6-10 inches at a time. After each lift, the crew cross-stacks extra crib blocks on top of the existing cribbing until it reaches the base of the metal beams or first floor. This keeps going until the house is at the desired height. Once it is, the house lifters pack up their jacks and equipment and leave it to the contractors hired to pour and build the new foundation. The time it takes to finish the foundation varies. Once it is done, the house lifters come back, and using the same unified jacking system, lowers your house onto the new foundation. The house is then officially FEMA compliant, saving you tens of thousands of dollars in the long-run.
For more reasons to raise your house, click here.