If you live in New Jersey, chances are you have heard a lot about NJ house raising in the year since Hurricane Sandy struck and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. That’s because residents here want to get their properties above devastating flood levels, as well as secure lower flood insurance premiums for themselves. With the release of new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood elevation recommendations, most homeowners in the Garden State now have a good idea of the ideal height for their home.
Enter house raising in NJ. This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when a New Jersey house raising company is hired to literally lift your home higher. It’s as big a job as it sounds, requiring a fine touch rather than brute force, but understanding the basics can give you peace of mind if you are considering lifting your home.
The steps are as follows:
Obtain Permits – As with everything else in New Jersey, lifting your home requires permits. Your house raising contractor will likely be able to help you with this.
Chimney and Stairs Demolition – In most cases, your exterior stairways will have to be demolished prior to house lifting. The same holds true for fixed brick chimneys. In some instances these features may be able to be saved, but be ready for possible demolition and replacement.
Cribbing – Prior to lifting, crews will go under your home and prepare “cribbing,” stacks of timber upon which your home will rest while your new foundation is constructed.
Secure Your Belongings – Just prior to lift day, you will be asked to secure all cabinets so they cannot open. Breakables should be removed or placed in storage.
The Lift – A series of pneumatic jacks will be placed at strategic positions underneath your home. These jacks are driven by air and are carefully coordinated by computer (though some house lifting services using older technology may still rely on hands-on measurements done by the crew). First, all jacks are activated at once to get the whole structure moving, then, slowly and carefully, each corner of the house is raised a mere inch at a time, one after the other. Measurements are carefully monitored to ensure no one portion of the house is being lifted faster than another. This continues until your home is at its desired height.
After The Lift – Once your lift is complete, crews come in to rebuild and/or expand your foundation. This may involve simply extending the concrete blocks upward, but in some cases it may mean building an entirely new foundation. Footings may be built and new concrete may be poured.
Rebuild Stairs – Since your home is higher, you’ll need a new stairway to access your lifted house.
Touch-ups – After the foundation is finished and your house is set back down on its new footings, you’ll want to do minor touchups around your home. While NJ house lifting is safe, you may get cracks in your drywall and other minor issues that will need repair.
The process can take as little as a few days and as much as a few weeks, depending on the age of your home, how it was constructed, and others issues. Overall the process is simple, safe, and likely more affordable than people realize.