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Any New Jersey resident can tell you that the local contractors have had a busy year. Even homeowners left relatively untouched by Super Storm Sandy in 2012 may need to consider elevated house plans to stay in compliance with the laws and their insurance. If you live in a flood zone and need to lift your home, there are a few questions you should ask your local contractors before choosing which one to use.

  1. Are you licensed? It’s not illegal to raise your home without hiring a professional, so the number of local “contractors” has jumped up in the last year. You want to ensure that your house lifters are licensed and certified to take on a project of this magnitude, and that they have experience doing so.
  2. What are the “hidden” costs? There can be a number of fees associated with elevated house plans that aren’t included in the initial price, including utilities, service fees and renovations. It is important to get a list of all the additional costs before you begin, so that you can budget accordingly.
  3. Do you handle permitting? Construction in New Jersey requires permits – always. A licensed contractor will know which permits you need, where and when to apply for them, and how much those permits will cost.
  4. Do I need additional insurance? House lifters will carry their own insurance, but it may not be comprehensive enough to handle unforeseen circumstances, such as pre-existing structural damage. When drawing up your elevated house plans with the contractor, ask about what the insurance will cover. You might want to invest in a short-term plan in additional to cover your bases.
  5. How long will the process take? Any professional who knows how to raise house can estimate (within reason) how long the project will take to complete. You may wish to have this estimate placed in the contract to protect you, though the company may insist on a weather-related clause to protect them as well.

By asking these questions, you can narrow the pool of local contractors to companies that have the skills, experiences and resources to handle your home raising.

Review Potential Elevated House Plans Carefully

Another way to narrow your choices for contractors is to view their elevated house plans, either online or in a one-on-one meeting. Most local contractors have a website with a photo gallery, but some companies prefer to keep those pictures offline. Remember, however, that a house that looks like yours in a photo may be structurally different. You want to ask the house lifters about:

  • Decks, steps and porches
  • Chimneys and fireplaces
  • Landscaping services
  • Rooms built on concrete slabs
  • Utilities

You also want to make sure that these elevated house plans before you don’t require massive interior or exterior renovations, unless you were planning on remodeling in some way (or if they’re required out of necessity.)  Simply lifting a home will be expensive; adding unwanted changes will raise your bill.

However, if you do want to renovate or remodel, then it’s best to choose from local contractors who offer those services. Just become a company knows how to lift a house doesn’t mean they know how to remodel one, so it’s important to thoroughly review all of the services that contractor offers before signing a contract. At the end of the day, you want to choose someone who does what you want and need – not the other way around.