Content of the material
- How to Jack up a House
- Steps to Raising a Home
- Pros and Cons of Raising a House
- New Possibilities House-Lifting Opens Up for Seattle Home-Owners
- Adding Head Height or Space Below Your House
- Maintaining Existing Yard Space & Your Home’s Original Footprint
- Retrofitting for Earthquakes & Meeting Seismic Standards
- Sorting Other Much-Needed Structural Repairs
- The House Lifting Process
- Final House-Lifting Tips
- Your House-Lifting Team Must Have Their Safety Precautions on Standby
- Keeping the House Standing Throughout
- Cost To Raise A House Above Flood Zone
- Pier & Beam
- Replacing House Columns / Posts
- Cost To Raise A House on Pilings
- Government Funding Help
- Reduced Flood Insurance Premiums
- 2. Confirm Plans for New Foundation
- Keeping the House Standing
How to Jack up a House
- Holes are created in the foundation for the steel lifting beams. For masonry foundations, concrete blocks or bricks are removed to create holes.
- Steel beams are inserted through the holes. The beams run perpendicular to the house's own beams or joists.
- The second set of steel beams is inserted perpendicular to and underneath the first set.
- Screw jacks are placed under the steel beams. Supports are placed under the screw jacks to prevent them from sinking into soft ground.
- The jacks are raised a little bit, usually about 1/8-inch per day.
- Cribs, or wooden supports, are placed under the beams.
- Once again, the jacks are raised. This process of jacking and cribbing continues very slowly. The cribs are built up in perpendicular stacks.
- Eventually, the house is completely free of its foundation.
- If a new foundation wall needs to be built, for example, this is built after the house has finally reached its desired height.
- After the foundation has been built, jacking and cribbing are slowly done again, but this time in reverse.
- After the jacks are free, they are removed, along with all of the cribbing materials.
Steps to Raising a Home
The lifting of the home may be the simplest part of the process. The work before the home has been jacked up and after it has been lifted are some of the more complex parts.
Before you can begin, permits are required for this project, which means submitting your plans to the municipality the home is in. Once approved, your permit is issued, and the work can begin.
A structural engineer visits the site to determine the best method for lifting the home. The home sometimes must be disconnected from the foundation, but at other times, a slab foundation can be lifted with it. Porches and decks may need to be disconnected or lifted with the house. The engineer also determines the correct amount of support for the property based on the new height.
Next, the utilities are disconnected from the home, and underground utilities in the yard are marked. The basement is emptied, and the landscaping is cleared to allow access to the house by the heavy equipment. The home is also disconnected from the foundation and additional structures if required.
The next step is to jack up the house. The home may be moved, stabilized for temporary work, or stabilized for long-term work as a new foundation is built, depending on your goal. Once the work is complete, the home is lowered, connected to the foundation, and the utilities are connected. The finish work happens now if needed.
Pros and Cons of Raising a House
Raising a house is not a simple project, nor is it one that gets done regularly. Raising a house can mean vacating it during the process, putting your fragile belongings in storage, and potentially devastating your landscaping. But there are times when the pros of raising a house outweigh the cons.
If you live in a flood zone and have already experienced some damage, raising your home gives you the ability to better repair that damage and helps get your home out of water height, preventing future damage.
Raising a home can also have other benefits, such as allowing you to build a basement or put another story on your home beneath the one you already have. This last project is a popular way of adding onto ranches, which often have vaulted ceilings that are difficult to build an addition above without ruining the rooms below. If you need to move your home, lifting it lets you preserve it so that you can relocate without having to sell.
Keep in mind that any time you lift a home, you can weaken the structure. Things inside can shift and break, so there is often more work finishing the interior after you are finished.
There are also more considerations when raising a home than many people see at first glance. This includes how to complete the new foundation, how to match the exterior of the old structure, and where your new entryway will be once the house is elevated. While raising your home can allow you to make repairs, gain space, or get a new foundation, it is not a project you want to undertake without serious consideration.
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New Possibilities House-Lifting Opens Up for Seattle Home-Owners
In our experience, we’ve found that while most people wish to raise homes as a way to add more height, many others do so as recourse for unforeseen structural issues such as (impending) damage to the house’s foundation due to settling or movement.
In most cases, the home will have to be lifted to allow for complete replacement of its foundation.
This is because, depending on the condition of the house, certain renovations to the foundation can only be safely done with the house lifted.
The most common reasons for lifting a house include:
Adding Head Height or Space Below Your House
Perhaps you’re one of the many Seattle homeowners who’ve been wishing to carve out a new basement for themselves. An office, maybe. Or perhaps a mini gym.
Oftentimes, homeowners will want to add some space to accommodate their work or hobby, while desperately wanting to stay in their neighborhood.
With house lifting, you can easily install an office for yourself right under your home. Not only can you carve out a new basement from scratch, but you can also enlarge an existing basement or modify it into a larger custom space.
Maintaining Existing Yard Space & Your Home’s Original Footprint
A house set on elevated beams won’t only provide you with the extra space needed to install an extra bedroom or two. It’ll also conserve your existing unoccupied acreage.
By lifting your house, you avoid the zero-sum measures that come with expanding your home horizontally, which happens to be most homeowners’ immediate recourse. You’ll also not need to think of clearing the grass, encroaching into your backyard, or even cutting down your lovely trees.
This way, lifting your home allows you to maintain your home’s original footprint. With the option to expand either upwards or downwards, you can be sure that an added head height won’t distort your home’s architectural profile.
Retrofitting for Earthquakes & Meeting Seismic Standards
Before 1980, Seattle homeowners were not required to secure their homes into their foundations. Building codes just weren’t then what they are now.
Which isn’t to say that homes were “unsecure” before the 80s; only that a lot of the measures that are in place now are the result of what’s taken place between then and now.
Now, with Seattle’s climate and seismic condition being what it is at the moment, most homeowners understand well: A home that isn’t appropriately secured in its foundation is more likely to “slide off” in the event of an earthquake.
The good thing with engaging the right house-lifter is that they will appropriately profile your home against your specific locale’s seismic record. The actual process of retrofitting your home to meet seismic standards begins once the house has safely been elevated far enough as to expose its foundation. At this point, the house-lifters are able to reinforce the newly installed beams and enhance the wall strength.
Just as it sounds, the objective of seismic retrofitting during house-lifting here is to make your house as structurally resilient as it possibly can be. Not necessarily to make it “earthquake-proof.” Strictly speaking, there is no way to make a structure 100% earthquake-proof.
By meeting your locale’s seismic standards, you decrease the likelihood of having your home relent to violent seismic activity — all the tossing and shaking that might ruin its construction. In addition, of course, to protecting the lives of the inhabitants of a home ravaged by an earthquake. Or at the very least, making their home strong enough to withstand the blunt effects of rocks shaking underneath. Otherwise, houses can (and have in the past) easily topple in on themselves
Seattle homeowners looking to initiate house-lifting projects, especially those who know their structures to be brittle, are well-advised to ensure the right preparations are made during the project to meet seismic standards.
And with Seattle’s propensity to occasional seismic activity, you’re all the more safe if you hire an expert group of contractors.
Sorting Other Much-Needed Structural Repairs
Oftentimes, many Seattle homeowners seem not to know about the fact that their home’s foundation is in a generally wanting state.
Indeed, foundation issues occur way more often than you might think, and many of the older homeowners understand this.
Undetectable damage to your home’s foundation may be the result of a number of things: an improperly constructed drainage system, natural disasters, consistently terrible weather, and other underlying changes in soil composition, among many other causes.
While adding some extra rooms and head height might be the prime motivation for lifting your home, by initiating a house lifting project, you might just be lucky enough to discover structural deficiencies in time to nip them in the bud.
If you think about it this way, especially for the older Seattle homes, by initiating a house lifting project, in this case, will probably be killing two birds with one stone.
Whatever the case for lifting your home, fortunate or unfortunate, engaging the services of the right contractor will ensure a smooth, painless, and cost-effective process.
The House Lifting Process
Lift, support, and lift again. That’s house lifting in a nutshell, but the reality is much more intricate and precise than that. The larger and heavier the house, the more complicated the process is likely to be. Every wall, nail and brick is an interconnected piece of the puzzle that is a home. Surprisingly, regardless of size, most structurally sound homes can be lifted in a single day. Before lifting, it’s important to know that there will sometimes be small imperfections to repair as a repercussion of the lift. Small cracks in plaster or siding can easily be fixed by a general contractor. The veterans at D.B. Davis have a great record: 8 out of 10 homes they lift do not show any signs of being raised. While some structural imperfections are possible, you don’t have to worry about belongings inside the home. The lift is incremental and shouldn’t shift furniture and belongings by any noticeable amount.
Depending on the reason for lifting, the concrete foundation (aka slab) may be lifted too, or left on the ground level. Most often, the foundation stays put and steel beams are inserted directly below the floor joists for support, taking into account the internal floorplan and heaviest areas of the home. This creates a stable base to which jacks and cribbing can be applied.
There are two main components at work during a house lift: hydraulic jacks are used for house lifting, while cribbing is used for support. The jacks are placed evenly under the home and hooked up to a unified hydraulic jacking machine that can raise each jack an exact amount at the same time. Usually, lifters will raise the home only a few inches to start. At this point in time, the home is checked and verified that it is safe to continue lifting. After lifting, cribbing is stacked so that a sturdy, interlocking system of timber is supporting the house. Cribbing is the term used to describe the Lincoln-Log-like wood beams that are cross stacked to form a supportive base for the whole house. Good cribbing is moisture-sealed to ensure its stability and longevity. The lifter will make sure that with each lift, the cribbing stacks are within 1/8” of one another so that the home is level and does not shift. Safety and stability are of the upmost importance.
Final House-Lifting Tips
Your House-Lifting Team Must Have Their Safety Precautions on Standby
The contractors conducting the elevation ought to have a detailed statement specifying all possible risks that could be encountered during the project.
Lots of boxes need to be checked safety-wise. From ensuring that the electrical connections remain damage-free, as with the plumbing and indoor water connection, all the way to foundational integrity throughout the lifting process.
Keeping the House Standing Throughout
Throughout the process, your house must be raised using the very steel beams that keep it standing.
Cost To Raise A House Above Flood Zone
The average cost to raise a house above the flood zone is $20,000 to $80,000, including lifting and new piers, posts, or pilings foundation. Raising a home above the floodplain reduces the risk of flood damage and lowers insurance premiums by 30% to 60%.
|Foundation Type||Average Cost|
|Base Cost To Raise House||$10,000 – $40,000|
|Pier & Beam||+ $8,000 – $20,000|
|Columns / Posts||+ $13,000 – $24,000|
|Pilings||+ $12,000 – $40,000|
|Average Total Cost||$20,000 – $80,000|
*Prices vary depending on the foundation type, home size, soil conditions, flood zone, and amount of elevation required. Costs increase by 20% to 40% when lifting over 8 feet.
FEMA recommends raising the lowest floor to at least one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), so the living area is above all but the most severe floods. Check the Risk MAP to see if you’re in a flood zone and look up the BFE to determine the required elevation.
- Homes in Zone A are placed on shallower footings with posts or columns.
- Coastal homes in Zone V require deeper foundations using piers or pilings that withstand more intense wave action.
Pier & Beam
Reinforced concrete piers or masonry blocks cost $8,000 to $20,000 to install after lifting the house. Piers used in house lifting projects must be reinforced with steel bars to prevent flood damage. Most house lifting projects require 8 to 10 piers at $1,000 to $3,000 per pier.
Replacing House Columns / Posts
Replacing house columns costs $13,000 to $24,000 on average, depending on the material. Wood posts are the least expensive and reinforced concrete columns or masonry block costs more. Posts are placed into drilled holes and then reinforced with a concrete pad or encased in concrete.
|Elevation Above Grade||Cost Per Square Foot||Average Foundation Cost|
|0′ to 5′||$10 – $15||$13,000 – $18,000|
|5′ to 10′||$14 – $18||$17,000 – $22,000|
|10′ to 15′||$15 – $20||$18,000 – $24,000|
*Prices do not include house lifting.
Cost To Raise A House on Pilings
After raising a house, installing pilings cost $12,000 to $40,000 or $10 to $40 per square foot on average, not including lifting costs. Pilings are typically required in coastal areas or when elevating a house more than 10 to 12 feet above the ground.
|Elevation Above Grade||Cost Per Square Foot||Average Foundation Cost|
|0′ to 5′||$10 – $25||$12,000 – $30,000|
|5′ to 10′||$15 – $30||$17,000 – $36,000|
|10′ to 15′||$18 – $40||$22,000 – $40,000|
*Prices do not include house lifting.
Pilings are the most expensive option and may be constructed of wood, steel, or concrete. Installing pilings requires raising and moving the house aside. Then the old foundation is removed are pilings are driven deep into the ground without concrete pads or footings using heavy machinery.
Government Funding Help
For homes that have incurred flood-related damage, FEMA may fund up to $30,000 through ICC coverage to help pay for elevation, relocation, and demolition. Some cities and states offer additional tax incentives to elevate houses above the BFE.
Reduced Flood Insurance Premiums
For homes in a high-risk flood area, elevating one foot above the BFE reduces annual insurance premiums by 30%. Lifting a house three feet above the BFE saves up to 60% on premiums. Homeowners save $15,000 to $100,000 on flood insurance premiums throughout a 30-year mortgage.
2. Confirm Plans for New Foundation
There are three primary things from your plans for the new foundation that we will need to confirm:
- The lift height: This is the exact difference between the existing first-floor elevation and the new proposed first-floor elevation (usually noted on plans as “existing FF” and “proposed FF”).
- New footers? Will you be laying up on top of the existing foundation, or will you be removing the existing footers and foundation to install new ones? We will need to know the details of your plan for the footers.
- New foundation: Some new foundation designs may require us to rig our lifting steel in a different way. Seeing your new foundation plans helps us to avoid a costly change order to re-rig the lifting steel.
Once you receive your new foundation plans from your architect or engineer, please email a copy to us.
Foundation work for house lifting and moving project in Mantoloking, NJ View Project »
Keeping the House Standing
Houses must be lifted using the same supports that keep the house standing, such as the carrying beams and the load-bearing walls. Knowing where to place jacks, how many to use, and how to distribute the pressure of each jack is critical to a safe and successful house raising.
Even if you understand home structures and which parts carry the loads, jacking a house is, in some ways, the reverse of those forces. So, conventional structural rules don't always apply. Knowing what to expect takes experience.