18 comments

    • I can’t even imagine.. They are out of state on vacation, expected to come home to a newly lifted home and then this happens.. It makes any water damage look trivial.

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    • Wow. They didn’t even wait until he came back? Everything is gone?

      I can’t even imagine either. It makes me want to cry for them.

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  1. These poor people have been through so much and now this? I feel awful for them. It also makes me fearful about raising my own. Does anyone know the name of the company responsible for this mess?

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  2. The situation with what happened today whether anyone realizes it yet opens a gigantic can of worms and raises issues, that Im sure many of us havent thought of.

    First of all, it is very lucky that there wasnt anyone living next door when the house came crashing down! I have tons of questions as a result of this.

    1)Is it safe to be living next to a house that is being raised and living there while this is going on?

    2) Who is responsible if a house next door to yours falls on your house? In the situation today, the house lifter can blame the home owner claiming the house wasnt stable enough to be lifted etc. The homeowner and their insurance of course will blame the house lifter. Will the poor homeowner be left in the middle of this mess?

    3) By what authority did the town demolish these people house, with all their possessions inside and why did it have to be done immediately? I believe most insurance companies reserved the right to be able to investigate the scene of a loss to determine their liabiliy or the liability of others. The town by taking action so quicky basically sterilized the “scene of the crime”, before any investigation could happen! Couldnt the town have just cordoned off the area, until this happened. After all disasters people are usually allowed to salvage whatever they can, but not in this case. Why? I hope the town has their legal ducks in a row on this one, or all the taxpayers are going to be footing the bill when the homeowner sues the town for taking this swift action.

    4) Does a persons homeowners cover you if your neighbors house comes crashing down on yours while being lifted? Does your neighbors? Also, is the town checking all these tom, dick, and harry house lifters that have invaded the town. The people responsible for todays disaster jumped in their truck and fled the scene when the house came crashing down. If the town checking to see if these people are insured, licensed, and qualified to do this work?

    5) Does the town really have the right to deny a homeowner access to their property to be able to salvage what they can, and immdediately destroy any house they deem to be a “public hazard”???? Dont you think the homeowner should be able to get a second opinion before the town does this from another engineer for instance, Or be allowed to try to get a company to stabliized the house, before the town decides to unilaterily destroy it?

    6) This situation brings up a host of problems now. How safe is the public with the house lifting that is going on all over town? How are the houses that are being lifted evaluated to determine if they are safe to be lifted? Who makes this determination? Many houses downtown have been here since year one of the town, and have been flooded over and over again.

    I think the town needs to put a halt to further house lifting in town until questions like these can be answered!

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  3. I feel really sad for these people. They probably did not lose belongings when Sandy hit but today everything they own and their memories..everything gone. why did not they wait for the owners to come back?

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  4. I also question why they couldn’t have waited. I hope their insurance company doesn’t claim some random exclusion for not being able to inspect the damage first.

    I heard one of the town officials made a comment about hiring reputable contractors; is that true? If it is true, did the town not approve their plans & grant the permit?

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  5. I forgot to add– is there a fund or anything that can be done to help the poor homeowners? If I can help them in any way, I’d like to.

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  6. Something’s really fishy about demolishing that so quickly. And I have to wonder if our town “engineer,” who DOESN’T HAVE AN ENGINEERING DEGREE made this decision.

    My guess is that they issue these permits, but never follow up during the process. That’s certainly what happened with all the post-Sandy rebuilding permits, which is its own travesty, but so far hasn’t resulted in a catastrophe.

    Here’s a hint. If you issued a permit for anything, you should be back there making sure the work has been done, and done correctly. I’ve tried to follow up but had one ineffectual inspection and another appointment that was missed three times, only to have that inspector swear it had been done. And then there’s the houses that never bothered to get permits. If this “whole down was destroyed,” as the mayor likes to say, then our town officials need to be making sure that every house that IS occupied is safe to live in, permits or not.

    I hate to say it, but if I were that homeowner of the pink house (or even more so, the one next door), I’d sue the crap out of the town for taking it down.

    (And I’m with Frustrated above. If anyone is in touch with the homeowner, please let us know what they need. I’m more than happy to throw some gift cards their way or help any other way I can.)

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  7. Jen, please forgive me for being nosy, but the one that was missed where they swore it was done, was it for plumbing? I only ask because the exact same thing happened to me. I was told the “male owner of my property” let the guy in and has the paperwork. Funny, last time I checked, the only name on the deed was mine, and I’m female!

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    • YES! He’s a subcontracted inspector or something, who seems to be clearly negligent on actually doing his job. He told Paul that he was here and put a sticker on the inside of the window. I argued back and forth for a while then just gave up, figuring that I was starting to piss Paul off. There’s no sticker. No inspector ever came. I was out of town and there was nobody at all here on the date the “inspection” was supposedly done. So I shut up and kept the email trail just in case the shit hits the fan later on.

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  8. I had appointments broken too. And the day my plumbing inspection was supposedly done, I was literally home all day and no one ever showed up. I also tried to follow up with nothing happening. I can’t believe you had the same thing happen! If the town ever bugs you about it, I’ll back you up!

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  9. Once again, I question the towns “right” to immediately pull the houses down, and Im sure it was not with the owners permission. Why the rush, and with all the owners belongings inside. Fishy indeed! Im wondering if pulling the house down was to cover something up?

    Doesnt the town engineers have to sign off when a house is raised saying that the house is structurally able to withstand being lifted. Does anyone make that determination in advance?

    What doesnt make sense to me is after virtually any disaster, flood, tornado, earthquake, whatever, people are generally allowed to go back to their houses to salvage what they can. For example, right after Sandy, the town didnt come along with bulldozers and plow everything down citing “public safety concerns”. But in this case, thats exactly what happened. Anyone that saw pictures or video of the situation can tell the house didnt seem to going to fall down right away, and certainly the area could have been roped off. Further, couldnt the owners got their own contractor etc to stabilize the house enough save their belongings? Something just doesnt add up here!

    People lifting their houses better find out what their rights are, and whose responsible if their house lift goes bad, or if a house lifted next door comes crashing on their house. The hell if I would let the town come in and bulldoze my house with all my stuff in it. Over my dead F ing body!!!!

    So, I think in this situation someones go some serious splaining to do!!!

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  10. I keep hearing that Dale isn’t a licensed engineer. His LinkedIn is incomplete. Does anyone know his background? Where he went to school? If he has a degree, was is in? How much experience he has in various areas of engineering?

    Is he the one signing off on these plans and reviewing the qualifications of the companies lifting these houses? Is anyone from the town looking at these homes that are up on the cribbing to make sure they are stable? So far the two collapses (Highlands & Little Egg Harbor) happened while the workers were on site, but now I’m a bit concerned about how safe it is to walk around town. I’m sure this is an isolated incident but I’d hate to find out after the second one that there is a massive line of incompetence in this process.

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    • I don’t know if Leubner is involved with this or not, but T&M as a whole is hired by Highlands as they are with several other municipalities where they have dozens of licensed PE’s on staff. Dale may have a background in construction mgt, design, or planning and does not have to have an engineering degree, let alone be a licensed engineer. He probably does not sign certain docs as a PE must do this and may be more of an owners rep like in an architectural firm (eyes and ears on the ground). Of course, claiming to be an engineer when not is bad press and doesn’t look good on a resume 🙂

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  11. I have now heard that the people that dropped the house in Highlands also dropped one in Middlesex county last month. So, I dont know how “isolated” is isolated. Also, isnt it funny just how many “house lifting” companies or people there are claiming to be qualified to lift houses there seem to be around now?

    Some of the houses that have been lifting stay up on the cribbing for weeks at a time before any foundation is put under them. I think this is a safety issue that needs to seriously be addressed.

    I dont know about lubner’s qualifications. I do know that she he is at council meetings that usually there is another guy with him. I have also heard however that Lubner doesnt have an engineering degree etc. I also dont know who, if anyone, signs off on any of this stuff. I do know however, that many people have stated that inspections that the town claims were done, are not being done.

    So, who knows what is going on?

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