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Post-Storm Lifts A Pricey, Solid Way To Keep Homes Safe

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TWC News: Post-Storm Lifts A Pricey, Solid Way To Keep Homes Safe
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As the recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues, homeowners in low-lying areas are exploring all of their options including raising their homes above sea level. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

It's definitely a bit jarring to see a house raised eight feet in the air but in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey it's happening every day as homeowners elevate their houses above sea level to avoid the same destruction they encountered from Hurricane Sandy.

But just how is it done? Rod Scott from the house moving company Ducky Johnson recently walked NY1 through the process at one house undergoing a gut renovation, but it can be done on a brand new home with everything in place.

First, the beams are installed or snouted through the crawl space under the house or through the base of the sides if it’s on a slab. Then dozens of jacks are installed around the beams.

"This is a beam lifter. It allows us to grab the beam and then we have the jacks on either side of it which carry the beam up," explains Rod Scott of Ducky Johnson House Movers.

The beams are set throughout the house then a hydraulic lift machine slowly lifts those jacks just a few inches at a time. As the house is going up crews reinforce the structure with blocks called cribbing.

Every 14 inches or so they stop, reset the jacks and the cribbing, and start again until they reach the height they need.

With setup, the lifters are in and out in just a few days. The house remains on the cribbing so a general contractor can come in and build the new foundation, and whatever else is needed to make the house whole. Once it’s complete, the lifter returns for the last step.

"We lift it up just a little bit, start pulling out the wood blocks, start lowering it gently, reset the jacks again and lower it slowly until it touches on the new foundation walls," Scott explains.

Eventually, all the steel and cribbing are removed and the owner is left with the same house, just higher.

As for cost, the lift itself can run anywhere from $14 to $19 per square foot, then add that to the cost of the contractor. It’s a lot of money. Flood insurance may cover part of it and some people will qualify for grants and loans, but not all. But as homeowners in storm damaged areas face higher flood insurance premiums, many need to see if elevating is a viable option.

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