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House Lifting: Can It Really Protect My Home Against Major Storms?

SONY DSCWhen superstorm Sandy made landfall along the Jersey Shore in 2012, many homeowners came away with a changed perspective. As the water rushed in, several thousand homes were severely damaged or completely washed away. Many of these have been rebuilt and repaired, but no measure of protection has been added to strengthen the home for the next big storm. It could be five, ten or twenty years from now—but meteorologists agree it’s not a question of when, not if.

As a result, man houses have been “lifted” above the flood line. In fact, if you live in the area, you’ve probably read a lot about house lifting or house raising. Essentially, the house is lifted above the established flood line, rendering it much better protected than houses whose foundations are below the flood line.

Does this actually work? Does it provide added protection to homes in case of flooding and storms?

There is plenty of evidence to say that it does. One example is the way homes near the Jersey Shore are treated by insurance companies. They’re willing to offer much lower rates for homes that are lifted or built above the flood line, which means they see much less probability that raised home will be seriously damaged in case of a major tropical storm. This is the case in all areas where tropical storms are a known meteorological risk.

Insurance companies are in the business of mitigating risk; so if they’re willing to offer significantly lower premiums for ‘lifted homes,’ it’s certainly worth consideration as a homeowner. It may take some time for those lower premiums to “pay for” the cost of the house lift, but it’s also about investing in the home’s future. A home’s market value will be lower if its risk of flood damage—and consequently its insurance premiums—are higher. Many homeowners choose to lift their properties for all of the following reasons:

  • Save on monthly premiums
  • Protect themselves and their family in severe storms
  • Protect valuables, heirlooms and personal possessions
  • Preserve and increase their home’s market value for the future

A home that is will protected from severe storms is simply a better investment all around, and that’s why house lifting has taken off in recent years along the Jersey Shore.

But let’s say your house is below the flood line, and you’re ready to invest in the future by seeking out a house lifting specialist. How do you know where to start? And what qualities should you look for in a contractor?

There are several important aspects of the search. Looking at before and after photos, reading testimonials, and scouring third party review sites for client feedback are all important. It’s also wise to look for a contractor who is experienced with house lifting and recognized by the community. Often times, the most skilled house lifters are also general remodeling contractors who perform all types of home remodeling and renovation on homes. Others may be specialists who only deal in house lifting. Whichever kind of contractor you choose, it’s important to make sure the work is guaranteed in writing so that you, the client, are well protected throughout the house lifting process.

Best of luck with your house lifting research! Feel free to comment here.