New Jersey House Raising Guide and FAQ
Rebuild New Jersey is your resource for connecting with reliable local house raising contractors in the following local areas:
There’s no question that New Jersey house raising contractors along the Jersey Shore have been extremely busy over the past few years. Thousands of NJ houses were damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and thousands more homeowners whose homes were not damaged are still raising their houses to protect them from future storms and to be compliant with new regulations and insurance mandates. 2013 and 2014 were confusing years, as most homeowners were trying to find answers to their questions:
- Do I need to raise my house?
- Which flood zone am I in?
- How high to I need to lift my house?
- Am I getting money from my insurance company or from the government?
- What grant money is available to me?
- Is it worth it to raise my house or should I just sell it and walk away?
- How do I go about hiring a reliable New Jersey house raising contractor?
- How much does it cost to raise a house in NJ?
- Do I have to move out?
As we have settled into 2015, more and more homeowners are finding answers to these pressing questions. Advisory flood maps are out, grant money is becoming available, information is becoming more readily available, and homeowners have a bit more clarity than they had last year. Rebuilding our Shore will still take several years, but 2015 promises to be a very active year and a positive step in the right direction. If you have driven through parts of Ocean County and Atlantic County specifically, you will have noticed a lot of rebuilding, but also a lot still to be done.
If you’re a homeowner (or even a contractor) still looking for answers to questions about house lifting and rebuilding, you will find this article helpful. If you are looking to hire a reliable New Jersey house lifting contractor, either in Monmouth, Atlantic, or Ocean County, or anywhere in the state, please get in touch with us and we will connect you with one of the house lifting contractors we know and work with closely.
Frequently Asked Questions About House Raising, Including Actual Prices and Cost Estimates
What is an Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE)?
Prior to Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was restudying areas of New York and New Jersey for the purposes of updating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). These maps had not been updated in nearly 25 years. Following Superstorm Sandy, however, FEMA released advisory maps, or Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) to support rebuilding efforts along the coastline. To find the ABFE for your Jersey Shore home, please visit the ABFE Sandy Website.
My ABFE is 10 feet. Does that mean I have to raise my house 10 feet?
If your ABFE is 10 feet, that means the bottom of the first floor in your home needs to be 10 feet above sea level, not necessarily 10 feet above your property line, since your property is likely a few feet above sea level already. Note, however, that most flood insurance companies in NJ are requiring your home to be two feet above your ABFE. Therefore, as an example, if your ABFE is 10 feet, you will need to go to 12 feet to be in compliance with your insurance company guidelines and enjoy reasonable flood insurance rates.
Will raising damage or weaken my home?
Every situation is different. If your home is on a slab, significant work will need to be done to your home in order to raise it. This would disturb the interior of your home temporarily. If your home is on a crawl space, however, there will be minimal, if any, disturbance to the interior of your home. If your beach house or bay house is already on pilings, the contractor will assess your individual situation and give you a more confident answer after inspecting your home and before providing an estimate or quote.
Do I need wood or concrete pilings?
If your home is in a FEMA V Zone, you will need pilings with breakaway walls. If your home is in another zone, such as a FEMA A Zone, you can build on a concrete block or poured concrete foundation.
What is a FEMA A Zone?
Advisory Zone A is comprised of the area subject to storm surge flooding from the 1% annual chance of a coastal flood. These areas are not subject to high velocity wave action, but are still considered high risk flooding areas. What is a FEMA V Zone? Advisory Zone V is comprised of the area subject to high velocity wave action (defined as a 3-foot breaking wave) from the 1% annual chance of a coastal flood. Zone V is subject to more stringent building requirements than other zones because these areas are exposed to a greater level of risk.
Depending on the size of the house, the location, and the current structure and foundation, the cost that an NJ house raising contractor will charge to raise your home will be in the range of $12,000 – 30,000. However, the actual house jacking and resetting is only one component of the all-in price for house lifting. The full turn-key price will be in the $40,000 – $150,000 range for most homes along the Jersey Shore. At the lower end of that range is a simple beach cottage. At the higher end is a trickier job to lift a 3-storey house on the water or in a tight location, as an example.
Why so much, you ask? What goes into the cost to lift a house?
It’s very important for homeowners to realize that house lifting is an involved process. There are many different permitting processes, trades, and calculations that go into raising a house, just as there are in any major home renovation project, including:
- Removing existing decks, porches, walkways, steps, and stair cases
- Removing pavers and other hardscape and storing them carefully for later reuse
- Temporarily removing any landscaping
- Engineering, architectural drawings, soil samples, and site surveys
- Foundational work – either concrete foundations, pilings, or helical piles
- Shutting off your utilities, including sending official shutoff request to your municipality
- Disconnecting utilities – electricity, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation
- Lifting or Raising the House
- Building a new foundation
- Constructing a new lower level
- Installing hurricane straps and bracing where necessary
- Painting, siding, and coating
- Re-installing or rebuilding decks, porches, and stairs
- Re-installing landscaping and hardscape
- Re-connecting all utilities and raising your HVAC equipment off the ground
We always advise homeowners to be aware when any full service turn-key house lifting quote is below $40,000. As you can see, there’s just a lot that goes into the process to ensure that it is done correctly. Every project is different, so please contact your NJ general contractor or house lifting contractor for an individual estimate.
Will I save money on flood insurance for my home?
Absolutely. The insurance premium savings for raising your house to or above your ABFE are significant, especially when added up over time. Most insurance underwriters are now advising that you raise your house to about 2 feet above ABFE to be in compliance and enjoy preferential rates. In addition to saving money on your insurance premiums, the overall value of your home will increase, as will its resale value. If you go to sell your house in 5 or 10 years, you don’t want yours to be the only house on the street that is at or below ABFE and thus subject to storm damage and high insurance premiums.
When you hire a reliable local New Jersey house raising contractor, the strength or integrity of your home will not be compromised. In fact, the opposite is true. Your raised house will be on a solid concrete or pile foundation, will include hurricane strapping and bracing, and will be stronger than ever. Part of the pre-lift engineering process is taking soil samples to analyze the makeup and density of your soil, and to address any footing issues before any work is done. If there is water under your current home, a reputable contractor will ensure that there is a proper drainage system in place and ensure that the fill is strong enough to support your new home.
How long will it take to lift my house?
The actual lift is done over the course of one day. However, as the additional trades and work involved will take several weeks, depending on the complexity of your home and the experience of the contractor you hire. As a safe estimate, the entire project from start to finish will take 30-60 days.
What happens to my decks, porches, and stairs?
If your decks, porches, and stairs are strong and in good condition, the contractor will carefully remove them prior to your house lift. The contractor will then set them aside and then reattach them after your house is set to its new height. Of course there will be extra work involved to raise your deck and porches to meet the new height of your home. If you do not want to preserve your current deck or porches, or if they have been damaged too badly to save, ask your contractor to include several options for building a new deck or set of stairs for you to access your home.
Who handles permitting and all of the trade contractors?
A handful of homeowners will choose to general contract the house lifting process themselves. Generally, these are people who are either contractors or who have experience with home renovation projects. However, we strongly advise against most homeowners GC’ing their own projects. The reason is that you may only do this once in your entire lifetime. There are permits, engineering studies, soil samples, architectural drawings, utility contractors, and all sorts of different things to coordinate. Why not leave it up to the experts who do this on a daily basis? When you hire a house raising company or a general contractor, you are generally hiring a turn-key service, so you don’t need to worry about zoning, variances, setbacks, permitting, property lines, dealing with the towns, and of course coordinating up to a dozen different trade contractors and their schedules.
What permits or licenses are required for lifting my house, and who is responsible for getting them?
The DEP regulates building elevations through its Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules. Under the emergency Flood Hazard Area Control Act rule just adopted, you are eligible for what is known as a permit-by-rule (effectively an automatic permit) as long as the lowest floor is elevated to at least one foot above the state’s design flood elevation and provided the building stays within its original footprint. Slight variations in size and location can sometimes be allowed. You will still need to secure local construction permits. A state Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permit is not needed if you reconstruct in place. (source: State of NJ Division of Land Use) When you hire a reliable general contractor, they will handle all of your permits and have the appropriate conversations with your municipality to ensure that all proper permits are filed and acquired during the house raising and reconstruction process.
No. Raising your house is an involved process that takes anywhere from 30-60 days, depending on your house, your location, and several other variables. You will need to find somewhere to live during this process. Any good Monmouth or Ocean County house lifting contractor will provide you with a detailed timeline of your project, so you can make appropriate plans and get back into your newly rebuilt home as soon as possible.
Will I receive a written house raising estimate?
When you contact a reliable local contractor, ideally they will ask you questions to obtain relevant information. They will then arrange for a site visit to take measurements and to inspect your home and property. After inspection, you should expect to receive a detailed written estimate in a timely fashion. Many times, these written contractor estimates are necessary to submit to the state to obtain RREM grants or ICC grant money. All work should be outlined in detail and no work should be performed that is not mutually agreed upon in writing. The construction company you choose should also provide you with a schedule of payments, so you can manage the financial aspects of your project proactively.
What grant money is available to me to raise my house?
As a New Jersey resident, you may be eligible for a grant to help you with the cost of raising your house. There is a good chance that you will be eligible for FEMA’s Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage (ICC) if your home or business has been damaged by water. The ICC helps flood insurance policy holders in high-risk areas with up to $30,000 to help pay for the costs of house raising in NJ or otherwise bringing their house or business into compliance with their town’s floodplain ordinances. You can read more about the ICC on FEMA’s website. The ICC covers Elevation, Relocation, Demolition, and Floodproofing.
NJ RREM Grant Program
The second type of grant that has been very popular is the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) program, which is a state program, funded by the federal government, that provides homeowners with up to $150,000 in order to do the necessary work on your home to make it habitable and to comply with local flood plain requirements. The grant money can be used to repair or rebuild your Superstorm Sandy impacted home. The RREM program is also referred to as ‘Gap Funding’ because it is intended to fill the gap between the actual cost of repairs and the funds the homeowner has received from insurance claims or other means to repair their home. As of Spring 2015, about 4,500 New Jersey homeowners have been approved for the RREM program and there are as many as 13,000 additional homeowners on the waiting list. The program is being rolled out and tested slowly, but seems to be a really strong program, heavily endorsed by Governor Christie, that will work in the long term and serve as a blueprint for future storms in NJ and throughout the United States.
- Helps protect your property and house from potential storm damage
- Preserves our neighborhoods and communities
- Prevents the addition of waste to our landfills
- Keeps your flood insurance and home insurance premiums modest
- Increases the value and potential resale value of your home
New Jersey House Raising Guide – Conclusion
We hope this guide helped to answer your questions and shed some light on your situation. Rebuilding after a storm like this can be a very confusing process. There’s a ton of information you there, but it’s difficult to sift through and make sense of it all, especially as it pertains to your unique scenario. If you have any questions or are looking to hire a reliable New Jersey house lifting contractor or general contractor, feel free to submit your information and we will respond within 24 hours to get you started in the right direction.
New Jersey House Lifting – Local Areas Served
The NJ house lifting contractors that are a part of Rebuild New Jersey are located throughout the state, but tend to be concentrated in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties, especially along the shore areas, including Long Beach Island and the barrier islands that are home to so many beachfront and bay front houses. Whether you are looking to lift your small beach bungalow or your large family beach house, we will surely help you find the best possible house raising company or solution for your needs and get you back into your home as quickly as possible.