Giving houses a lift in New Jersey

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The devastating lessons of Superstorm Sandy are all too fresh in the minds of those living along the Jersey Shore.

Taking to heart the maxim that prevention is worth much more than the cure, and further convinced by expanded federal flood maps, hundreds of homeowners have raised their homes above the reach of potential floodwaters from the next storm.

Bill Wolford of Jersey Pride House Lifters, who said he’s been giving houses a lift for almost 20 years, has been the contractor of choice for dozens of those homeowners. 

Business has been booming in the nearly three years since Sandy, he said.

“After Sandy, FEMA came in and changed the flood maps for several thousand homes out there,” he said. “Your homeowner’s insurance can multiply 10-fold in the next five year is what some people are projecting.”

Working on a Long Beach Island home Thursday, foreman Michael Stannick explained that the  process uses steel I-beams and wooden platforms, constructed specifically for each house, to keep the house elevated while a foundation is built.

“We find our points where we are going to slide the steel in, knock a hole in the block or wherever,” he said. “For a slab house, we cut a hole in the house in between the studs. Fortunately, for this house, we go in through the windows.”

The home-lifting process can take weeks and cost between $50,000 and $100,000 if you want to add a garage while you are picking up your house.

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