Tag Archives: house lift

New Landscape for an Elevated House – House Lift Landscape

FINAL STEPS TO COMPLETION: The house project finally completed, the only thing left to do is fill in the landscape.

As the former landscape was completely destroyed during the process, we were starting with a clean slate. The front yard just after our house elevation project –


Front yard prior to landscape



AFTER: A few trips to some local nursery’s, viewing of other lifted homes, and a bit of research on the web and we made our decisions. Sod was an easy call as it goes in so fast and we only needed to cover a small area.


New sod being rolled into place

THE VERY NEXT DAY: A storm whipped into town dropping a lot of rainfall. At first it was welcomed as a huge boost to our new sod, which needs to be watered – a lot – in the first few weeks. Mother nature came at just the right time.

But the rain continued. It rained and rained. Flood warnings were issued. We sat snug in our newly lifted house. But our new sod did not fare so well …


The sod was strew about due to minor flooding


The high water mark …

The homes across the street suffered minor basement flooding, but the water never reached our house, just the front yard.



A few moths later and our yard was complete


In the photo above note how the red maple plays off the red hue of the rocks; it’s height helps to  off-set the tall foundation. A cypress was added to the planting bed in the stair design to provide year round interest.


18 Inches of Rain Brings Pain to Boulder, Colorado

At long last the rain has let up and the storm has passed, yet many will feel the ramifications of the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado for months to come. Numerous homes endured total destruction while others suffered comparatively minor damage with flooding restricted to their basement. Unfortunately for those without flood insurance, they will have to rebuild on their own. Flooding is about as appealing as a kick to the head.

Should those who were impacted by this freak of nature storm run out to purchase flood insurance? No. It takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to take effect. But what about moving forward, should those homes impacted by floodwater purchase flood insurance? YES. Depending on the flood risk for your home, the rates can be very inexpensive.


1. It takes 30 days to take effect

2. Building Coverage (house and mechanicals) and Content Coverage (your stuff) MUST be purchased separately

3. Flood Insurance offers limited coverage for basements

1500 HOMES DESTROYED IN BOULDER FLOOD: “Some 1,500 homes have been destroyed and about 17,500 have been damaged, according to an initial estimate released by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.” HUGE numbers of homes have been impacted.

120,000 HOMES DAMAGED: “According to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, 4,550 Boulder County homeowners are covered by flood insurance. That figure is well above the national per-capita average, but U.S. Census data suggests it still leaves many of the roughly 120,000 county households soaked and damaged, with dim prospects for total financial recovery.” www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder-flood/ci_24083820/flood-damage-leaves-boulder-area-residents-scrambling


Hang in there, Boulder!

Interior Damage Minimal After Elevating House

FORMIDABLE FOUNDATION:  Usually a house built upon a solid foundation is meant to be a permanent situation, complete with lots of cement to seal the deal. A foundation serves as the starting point for all that is to follow, whether you’re talking about an education, a relationship, or a house. It’s designed to have enduring qualities, and ideally built to last.

RIPPED AT THE SEAMS: But various life events can alter this preconceived notion of a permanent condition. In our case it was flooding. Way back when we first purchased our home, we never imagined a scenario where we would be ripping our house from it’s rock solid two-feet thick stone wall foundation. Nor did we foresee high water marks stretching taller than most ten year old children. But, here we are, in the midst of a house elevation project for flood mitigation.

House elevated and separated from the foundation

House elevated and separated from the foundation

EASE ON DOWN: I would have guessed any damage to the interior walls would occur during the initial separation of the house from it’s foundation. Turns out it’s the lowering of the (tremendously heavy and in our case out of square) house back down that predominately produces the most interior damage. That is not to say that every house will suffer some sort of harm during an elevation renovation. Some suffer more than others and some sustain practically no trace of damage at all. For us, there was hardly a scratch to be seen during the lifting of our house. Phew! But after hearing how laborious it was to square up my house and have it sit flush on the new foundation, I had some serious concerns.

House lowered onto newly built foundation

House lowered onto newly built foundation

INTERIOR SITUATION: As you can see from the photo above, as of yet there are no entry stairs. The new staircase will require 16 steps. A typical ladder has only 12 rungs. As the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. With a little determination and a bit of ingenuity, we managed to climb up. It involved a ladder, a rubble pile, and some keen balancing skills. Picture Mt. Everest where a climber crosses over a deep, icy, crevasse on just a metal ladder laid gingerly across a gap. It was along those lines that I eventually got inside. Wearing a skirt. And flip-flops. Impressed? Yeah, neither were my boys.

It was with great relief that we found minimal damage to the walls once inside. There is one gap in a sheetrock seam where a wall and corner converge that will need to be fixed. This occurred in a room that had been an addition, not original to the house. See photo below.

Gap runs floor to ceiling in the sheetrock in one corner

Gap runs floor to ceiling in the sheetrock in one corner

Oddly, there was also a gap in the granite counter top, on a seam, that will need to be shored up. Hopefully, it’s an easy fix requiring no more than a caulking gun.

Small gap in the countertop

Small gap in the countertop

ALL-IN-ALL: There are one or two other spots in the walls with minor cracks, more or less cosmetic in nature. All in all, the interior faired pretty well considering the ordeal it had just been through. Until the builders are fully able to access the interior of the house, we will not know definitively the extent of the damage, but at first glance it seems to be relatively minor.

It’s one thing to elevate a house. It’s another to carefully and successfully place it back down.  So whether interviewing a potential lifting company or talking to other home owners who have already completed their own flood mitigation elevation, this is an area to be sure to inquire about.

House Elevations and FEMA Maps

Along with the east coast states of New Jersey and New York, Connecticut communities are actively elevating their flood prone homes. Many of the properties procuring this flood prevention tactic sit right on the coast line of the Long Island Sound. Beautiful front row views of the water, right up until the weather goes haywire and the Sound ends up sloshing around in their living room. Yesterday, Bloomberg published an article articulating the need for home elevations in this area, along with the impact of the new FEMA maps

As stated in some of my earlier posts, FEMA has begun to aggressively remap floodplains in those areas that have been hit the hardest in recent years: homes impacted by Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy. FEMA has set it’s sights next on California, the Great Lakes and Florida. In a nutshell –  more and more homes will have to two difficult and expensive options to choose from: elevate their homes or face sky-high flood insurance premiums.

See the article below for more information as well as some interesting photos:


House Elevation for Flood Mitigation: Frequently Asked Questions

What all is involved in a house lift? Does flood insurance pay for it? What is an elevation certificate and why would I need one? To find out the answer to these and many more exciting questions related to this flood mitigation technique –  home elevation, check out my newly updated FAQ’s section.

Big Changes to Flood Insurance Rates

 CHANGES TO FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM: We paid our first revised flood insurance premium today – a 20% increase from what we paid last year for the same level of coverage. Our premiums will continue to rise for the next four years, up to 25% at a time. Why? The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal program under FEMA, is broke. With a debt of more than 18 billion dollars, the program is not sustainable. Who covers this huge deficit not covered by flood insurance premiums? Taxpayers do.

Wind and Flood damage from Hurricane Sandy - 2012

Wind and flood damage from Hurricane Sandy – 2012

Brief History of Flood Insurance: In 1965, Hurricane Betsy struck New Orleans. The ensuing floods destroyed numerous homes. No flood insurance existed to help the homeowners recover. Traditional insurance companies did not want to offer flood insurance because there were no ratings, models, or statistical probabilities available. So the government stepped in making flood maps, models, and generating the necessary statistics to account for the probability of a flood event. The National Flood Insurance Program was formed in 1968. It allowed individuals to purchase insurance (via insurance agents) through the government to cover floods.

In 2005 Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. The cost of recovery proved to be greater than incoming insurance premiums could cover. FEMA was forced to borrow 16 billion dollars from the government to cover the cost. This was a major set back to the program. Something had to change.

In July 2012, Congress signed into law extensive changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This was before Super Storm Sandy served up a path of destruction, covering an area the size of Europe, in late October of 2012. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, as it is called, has significant implications for anyone who has flood insurance. The short summary: your flood insurance rates are going to go up. These rates are allowed to go up as much as 25% per year (for the next 5 years) until actuarial rates (estimate of the expected value of future loss) are achieved.

How high your rates will go up will vary depending on your location and situation. The short list of homeowners who can expect to see their rates rise dramatically:

  • residential property that is not the primary residence of an individual (vacation homes)
  • any severe repetitive loss property (four or more claims over $5,000 or two claims that exceed the value of the property)
  • flood damages that cumulatively exceed the fair market value of the property
  • any new policy or newly purchased property in high risk flood areas

The taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize people whose homes are known to be in high-risk floodplains. The rates have to go up to cover the costs and risks inherent in living in these areas. Ultimately, some homes will have cost prohibitive rates resulting in homeowners who can no longer afford the flood insurance premiums. There are no easy or simple remedies.

Flood insurance rates are determined by the home’s base flood elevation. A house above the base flood elevation entitles the owner to pay a lower flood insurance premium – a very good reason to consider lifting your house.

Houselifted well above the base flood elevation for this property

House lifted well above the base flood elevation –  for this property

For more information on how your flood insurance rates will be impacted:


A video summary of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act:


Global Extreme Weather And Climate Events – A 2013 Timeline

A VERY TELLING VISUAL INDEED: Of the 24 events highlighted on this timeline, eight involve massive flooding and two others involve excessive rainfall. Extreme flooding events not included on this timeline for 2013 so far: Australia in January, Europe in May and June and Canada in  June. Though I don’t know how to prevent this seeming epidemic of wide spread flooding, I do know of one cure. For homeowners living in these risky flood prone areas around the world – two words: House Lift

A VERY TELLING VISUAL INDEED: Of the 24 events highlighted on this timeline, eight involve massive flooding and two others involve excessive rainfall. Extreme flooding events not included on this timeline for 2013 so far: Australia in January, Europe in May and June and Canada in  June. Though I don’t know how to prevent this seeming […]

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