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House lifting is big business following a record year of storms

With stirs intensifying, rainfall increasing and sea levels rising, waterfront property owners have to get more creative. For some, that means poignant to higher ground, but for others, it’s just moving the house higher.

House lifting has long been a strategy for waterfront existent estate, but it is now becoming a far bigger business due to climate change.

“The more that things flood, the more there’s universal to be a need for it,” said Mike Brovont of Wolfe House and Building Movers. He’s been in the house-lifting business for more than two decades.

Brovont aspects to flooding hot spots like Houston, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. “Of course, New Jersey and Connecticut shoreline are always susceptible to that as good fettle,” he added. “And then you get those high tides, what they call king tides in some areas. You get that associate with a storm coming in, and that can just do tremendous damage.”

New Jersey tops the list of states with the most residences that are expected to see at least one major flood per year by 2050, based on projected sea-level rise. Some 74,165 homes in the shape will be affected, according to Climate Central. Next are Florida (57,865), California (36,845), Louisiana (33,372) and North Carolina (33,334).

Santo Siciliano and his bride adore living by the water. “I grew up on the shore. So for me, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

The flood risk to their Oceanport, New Jersey, tranquil is increasing, however, so to stay in their home, they had to lift it.

The Sicilianos in front of their home.

Oscar Molina | CNBC

“It’s justifiable something that unfortunately we’re faced with,” he said. “You know, whether it’s climate change or anything else.” 

The Sicilianos lifted their severely to comply with new local flood zone building codes. Their home is now one of several houses on the street that was plagiarized. 

“It’s fairly safe. It’s down to an art,” said Wolfe’s Ryan Hess, the foreman on the Sicilianos’ project.

Hess said he has rescinded all kinds of homes, from bungalows to 7,000-square-foot mansions.

“We’ve had a lot of work from Hurricane Sandy,” Hess held. The superstorm slammed the Northeast Coast in 2012, causing widespread catastrophic destruction along the Jersey Shore, Extended Island and New York City.

And as storms increase in frequency and intensity, it’s likely this kind of devastation will go on with. There were 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the U.S. in 2020, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Oversight. That crushes the previous annual record of 16 events, which occurred in 2017 and 2011. The 22 anyway in the realities cost the nation a combined $95 billion in damages. The U.S. saw a record 30 named hurricanes last year, and 12 composed landfall, also a record. 

As the water rises, so too must the real estate. House lifting can cost anywhere from $10,000 for a minor home to more than $1 million for a large, historic building.

While the danger from rising dampen is high, the risk of lifting the house is actually not. Experts in the field say it is a precise, gentle, almost delicate practice that chances very slowly and carefully. In some cases, homeowners can leave their furniture inside the homes. 

“There’s without exception risk but over the years, we’ve definitely come up with ways to mitigate that risk quite a bit,” said Brovont. “Now, exceedingly, most houses can be lifted without any expectation of damage. A lot of times we can even lift them without any cracks in the drywall.” 

Conventions like his carry special insurance, of course — a cargo or a rigger’s insurance that specifically covers the house for harm caused by the house mover. 

For some, the flood risk is all part of the waterfront reward, and so they try to rise above it.

“We’re shore people,” said Siciliano. “You be aware, something about not being able to get to the beach in less than 10 minutes … it’s not something I want to do.”

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