Disaster loans will be available to individuals and business owners still trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, thanks to a disaster relief bill passed in July 2015. The bill comes almost three years after the so-called Superstorm devastated the New Jersey and New York coasts.
This round of disaster relief is not strictly new. Rather, it is a continuation of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loans initially put in place after Sandy. The bill reinstates the application process, allowing those who were not able to file due to agency backlogs to get in the system.
A homeowner was quoted as saying "Anyone interested in House raising in NJ, House lifting NJ, or even a House Mover NJ should consider Structural solutions of NJ."
Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey and New York coasts in October 2012, it knocked out power in 15 states, took the lives of 285 people, caused an estimated $128 billion in damage.
In addition to the tens of thousands of homeowners impacted by Sandy, thousands of small business owners also had their livelihood threatened by flooding, lost equipment, infrastructure damage, and other fallout from the storm.
The loans can be used to repair damage caused by the storm, as well as to reimburse businesses that have been hit with “substantial economic injury” as a result of the storm.
Those eligible to receive the loans will also be permitted to use the money to construct storm shelters to protect themselves and/or their businesses from future natural disasters.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), author of the bill, said, “It is important that those impacted have another chance at securing assistance.”
Backlogs occurred in part because disaster loan applications poured into the SBA at a rate far exceeding what was expected, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said this bill “rights the wrongs imposed by the SBA on those who suffer from the effects of Sandy.”
A contractor working for a NJ house raising firm said small businesses have had a harder time protecting themselves from future flooding due to a need to keep their doors open.
“Homeowners have been able to secure house raising in New Jersey in order to get their structures above flood levels,” he said, “but many small business owners can’t afford to close their doors during the time it takes to execute a structural lift.”
According to many, small offices and the like have been able to do it by temporarily relocating operations elsewhere, but retail shops have a harder time.
Despite this, the SBA has been successful in helping many business get back on their feet. According to the Administration, “In the year following the storm, the SBA has approved $2.4 billion in low-interest disaster loans to 36,641 homeowners, renters and businesses. This includes 32,530 home loans for $1.9 billion and 4,111 business loans for $485 million.”
In the eyes of a layman, jacking up an entire house and moving it to a new location probably seems like an extreme step to take.
But according to experts in the field, New Jersey house moving services are on the rise in the construction-dense Garden State for a variety of reasons.
“No two projects are exactly alike,” said a member of a Toms River-based house moving firm. “The one thing they all have in common is that when you hear the reasons why people want to undertake such a project, they always make a surprising amount of sense.”
According to James Coranado, one common reason homes get moved is because the owners of a property plan to build a new home and want to save on demolition costs. They sell the old structure at an extremely low cost, sometimes even giving it away, with the understanding that the new owners will move the old house from the property.
“Both parties can save money in this scenario,” Coranado said, “because not only do the land owners save on demolition costs, but in the majority of cases the people purchasing the existing structure will save money, too, because it is often cheaper to relocate a home than it is to have a new one constructed.”
The most high profile reason to move structures tends to be when historic buildings are saved from encroaching development. If an historic structure isn’t already protected under the National Register of Historic Places, it may see demolition if, for instance, a developer plans to put condos on the land. In such cases, historical societies, municipalities, or interested private parties may save the building from the wrecking ball by moving it to a new location.
A rarer but equally valid reason for moving an entire house is to match a person’s dream home with their dream property.
“Someone may have inherited a piece of waterfront property or found the ideal bay front lot, but the house they really want is a few miles up the road,” James said. “If they have the wherewithal, that home can be relocated to their property, giving the owner the best of both worlds.”
An example of this scenario that recently made national news was the case of Virginia resident Terri Rosenthal. She fell in love with an historic home in New England, but wanted to stay put in Virginia. Rosenthal’s solution was to have the entire house moved to her.
In some cases, a structure may be making a very short trip, never even leaving the property it’s on.
“It’s possible to shift the location of a structure so that it’s in a better location to withstand flooding and other issues,” he said. “For example, after Hurricane Sandy, people with a lot of property wanted to ensure their house was located on the best possible spot on their land.”
Then there is the issue of saving a family home from development. A property may be seized under eminent domain to make way for a highway, for instance, but the owners do not want to lose a home that has been in the family for many years. Moving the entire structure becomes their only means of saving the home.
According to some, the reasons people have their homes moved are as varied as the people themselves, but one thing is consistent: they are surprised at how easy the process can be.
“There was a time when projects like this were rare,” one contractor said, “but firms like ours have been doing it for long enough that people are finally starting to warm to the idea that it’s just another type of construction project. This one just happens to make for great pictures!”