When considering estimates for a house raising in Highlands, ask the following questions and clearly understand who is responsible for what and how things will be coordinated.
It isn’t as simple as just raising your house and just speaking to people around town, you should consider asking these questions:
1 – How high do you want to raise your Highlands home? If you are worried about getting Flood Insurance you need to check with your insurance company to figure out how high your home has to be raised, and what happens if you don’t raise it?
2 – Curb Appeal? What will it look like after it is raised? You may need to hire an architect to draw up plans of the new elevation. This is often overlooked and is very important. If you just raise the house and don’t consider the new look, you might just be stuck with a house forever. Remember to consider how all four sides are going to turn out.
3 – Can you actually raise your Highlands Home? Do NOT just rely on the house raising company, think about employing a structural engineer to let you know if the house actually can be raised and any concerns in doing so? This is a big deal and you really need to understand what could go wrong. You may consider just bull dozing and starting from scratch if you want an elevated home.
4 – Who is responsible if something goes wrong – cracks, structural damage, collapse, blown over (this happened on Sea Drift) – who pays for what? What are the insurance limits? Is the house raiser bonded? At what limits? What are you responsible for? What are you going to be left paying for if something goes wrong? Does your homeowner’s insurance have special clauses?
5 – How much are Mechanicals? Once your house is raised you need to budget for reconnecting your furnace, air conditioning, plumbing, cable, electric and gas. This will require Plumbers, Electricians and new home inspections. What is your budget? Can you actually afford it? The house raising estimate typically does not cover this, so make sure you understand costs before you raise your house.
6 – How the heck do you get in?– So you raised your house 15 feet in the air,cool.. how the heck do you get in out of the house? Do you need to rebuild porches, decks and stair cases? Do you need a new frontage? Make sure you understand these costs before you do the work, it can add up quickly.
7 – Should you finish underneath your raised home? If you do raise your house, you can opt to do it so that you now have a new ground floor living area. You can finish it off with drywall, HVAC, etc. but make sure you keep in mind that this new space on the ground floor may not be covered by Flood Insurance. If there is another flood, more then likely anything on this ground floor will not be covered. It COULD be considered a garage. Investigate that before you decide to finish your new playroom and lounge area.
8 – How long is it going to take?? How much time do you have after the raising to get everything else in place – HVAC, electrical, etc. How long will the house raising take – how many days start to finish? You will need people standing by to do their part of it all – are they going to be ready and committed? What if they can’t?
9 – What is actually Included? There are a lot more costs than just raising your home. You might need to hire a mason to finish the walls for the new space & a carpenter for the stairs.
10 – What are the costs and who actually does the Detachments? You need to consider who detaches all the mechanicals and the garage and the porches and other items? What are their fees?
These simple questions can help you put things into perspective and also develop a realistic budget of what it is going to cost to really raise your home. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that you can use your flood claims to cover the cost. Unless you are extremely lucky, your insurance company is going to pay what they see fit to get your home back together, to pre-Sandy conditions. If you use that claim money to raise your home, you are still going to have to pay to get your home back to pre-Sandy conditions. So raising your home and paying for it has to be done with funds above and beyond what you get for your Flood Loss.
To date I have not seen or heard of any Federal Program that will fully pay for raising a home. We have all heard a lot of myths and BS, some of it from OEM, local Politicians, FEMA, and well meaning friends and family, so please be very careful what you latch onto and hope for…investigate everything.
Do not commit to any contracts until you are very clear of how you are going to pay and EXACTLY what funding is available by who and when.
For the record the Sandy Fiscal Aide package before Congress probably isn’t going to make a material difference to a Highlands homeowner, so until that is resolved, please be very careful as to what you decide to do. Government assistance should NOT be relied on.