House Lifting/House Raising
Tired of banging your head because you have a low basement or crawlspace?
Looking for more space to live but do not want to build an extension that takes away backyard space?
Tired of paying high flood insurance premiums?
Don’t move out. Move up!
For over 50 years, Nickel Bros has been Washington State and BC’s largest and most trusted house lifting company. We’ve built our business on the core values of Safety, Precision, and Integrity—since 1956. Our customers enjoy peace of mind—knowing that their project will benefit from our experience, safety record, permitting proficiency, and logistics expertise.
Our customers have several good reasons for wanting to lift or raise their homes.
You Want More Space
If you are considering a house extension, a better option may be to raise your house and put in a new floor. Raising your home can allow you to increase the height of your basement ceiling or create a new full basement from a crawl space. These and other methods could be the most cost effective ways to double the square footage of your home. Some customers report that the cost of finishing a basement or main floor is 60% – 70% less than adding on the same square footage in other ways. Another great reason to consider raising your house instead of adding an extension is to keep your precious backyard space. With the size of typical residential lots in the city you have limited space to enjoy the outdoors. Raising your home keeps your current outdoor space intact.
Smarter Than Moving
In our experience for every $1.00 spent on raising and improving your house you will increase the value of your home by $1.50. Plus you can avoid all the costs of selling and purchasing a larger home (eg.real estate fees, land transfer tax, legal fees & moving costs).
If you like your existing home and your neighborhood, you still want your home to match your lifestyle. Maybe you have a growing family or you want to create an amazing new living space for your family to enjoy for years to come. Or maybe you are looking to add a rental suite. A rental suite is a great way to pay for your renovation.
Many people live near water — either fresh water zones that are sometimes prone to floods, wetlands and natural protection areas, or low-bank sound or oceanside properties. In many of those cases there is a need to move a house back from the potential high-water zones or to lift your house. We can help with a house lift for structures that have already had a flooding condition and need to be lifted to prevent a future loss, or as a preventative measure so that, if a flood occurs, your house will be safe from the flooding. Mitigation through house lifting can also be beneficial in dealing with the potential effects of climate change including sea level rise and increased flooding.
By lifting a house to as much as 7 to 10 feet, you will also benefit by having a standing-height crawl space and solid new foundation (instead of post-and-pillar or masonry foundations that are typical). Many people use that large crawl space for boat kayak storage and other types of temporary storage that would not be damaged by high water. We work with you to coordinate with your government and private flood insurance, and can help you walk through the entire process.
And don’t forget, our site visits and detailed estimates are all free and no-pressure. Contact us for more information.
Feel free to reach out and discus your potential project. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can answer any question you may have and give you an idea of the costs associated.
Washington State (USA)
Seattle: 1-866-920-BROS (1-866-920-2767)
San Juan Islands: 1-866-606-2237
British Columbia (CANADA)
Greater Vancouver: 1-866-813-9430
Vancouver Island: 1-866-320-2268
7 Steps to a Successful Project
1. Do Your Homework
Consult your local building authority and know what is required.
- Will the existing foundation be adequate?
- What are the overall height requirements for your area?
- Is your house legally conforming to current regulations for side yard setback?
- Will a variance be required?
2. Involve Good People
- Obtain recommendations for building contractors who have proof of similar projects.
- Obtain names of previous customers and view a project in progress. Ask Nickel Bros. for a project address.
- Obtain ideas from previous customers that you can implement in your plans.
- Talk to an architect about plans and design.
- Contact a Nickel Bros. estimator to outline responsibilities of the owner, contractor, and house mover.
- Obtain a budget price on the raise portion of the project from Nickel Bros.
3. Draw Up Your Plans
- Have your plans drawn up by an architect or building designer showing and describing the scope of work.
- Submit your plans to your local building department for a building permit. (If you are obtaining financing for your project, you may want to wait until you have all your written quotes and have secured a loan, before submitting your application for a permit.)
4. Protect Your Investment
- All contractors should be properly insured for liability and Builder’s All Risk for their part of the project.
- All contracts should provide up to date proof of compliance with Worker’s Compensation. (Be aware that you can be held responsible for uninsured workers injured on your property.)
- Notify your Homeowner’s Insurance Representative about your project. You will need to obtain all necessary permits for new construction.
5. Get the Numbers
- Select 2 or 3 contractors to price the project based on the plans you have drawn.
- Contact Nickel Bros. to provide you with a written quote.
- Obtain all proposals in writing describing scope of work, cost & payment schedules.
- Choose your contractor. (Be sure you understand clearly who is responsible for each item and step of the project.)
6. Meet With Your People
- Arrange an on-site meeting with all contractors & subcontractors to discuss scope of work and scheduling.
- Sign contracts. (For Insurance purposes NB requires the homeowner to sign the raising contract.)
- Following these 7 steps will ensure that you can relax and enjoy the project.
Q: Can you raise the house with the chimney & fireplace?
A: We used to raise the fireplaces & chimneys with the buildings but recent changes to various municipal regulations have made it prohibitive. We now recommend that the fireplaces and chimneys are removed prior to the lift.
Q: Does the façade of the fireplace have to come down too?
A: The interior façade can sometimes be saved if tremendous care is taken in the demolition of the chimney.
Q: Does NB build the foundation?
A: NB does not do any construction for raised houses but would be happy to recommend some qualified builders to you. We suggest that you only choose contractors with experience in working under raised buildings.
Q: How do you dig a basement once the house is blocked up?
A: If excavation beneath the building is required, the method of raising the building is somewhat different. NB would need to know this up front for quoting purposes. In these scenarios there is usually an additional site visit required with our equipment to re-locate support cribs. In choosing an excavating company, they would need to have small enough equipment for digging under the building and have experience in this field. It is important that the excavation company chosen for the job has proper insurance coverage.
Q: Can you live in the house when it is up on blocks?
A: We do not recommend it, although many of our customers do.
Q: How high can you block up a building?
A: There are no physical restrictions to height, but there will most likely be economic and aesthetic restrictions. The higher you go the more costly it becomes.
Q: How do you know how much weight the blocks can hold? Are these engineered?
A: The blocking and design of the support cribs are engineered and may support various levels of weight depending on the layout of the blocking.
Q: Does weather play a factor in raising a house?
A: If there is no excavation involved, it does not become a factor. If there is excavation to be done, and/or a new foundation to be installed, with careful planning it can also be done year round in any weather.
Q: Can additions be raised as well?
A: The hydraulic jacking systems that NB use, are the most advanced in the industry. This allows us to raise any wing or addition of a building symmetrically with the main building.
Q: What about porches?
Q: Who is responsible for removing the fireplace/stairs etc?
A: We require that all building preparation such as these are done by the customer or their contractor. At the customers request we can provide the names of people experienced in these type of preparations.
Q: Does the landscaping get damaged?
A: For the majority of buildings that are raised, we do no damage to perimeter landscaping.
Q: Is there much damage to the house when it is raised? ie: cracking etc. Will our insurance cover this?
A: The amount of cracking in the house is directly proportionate to the degree of settling that has already occurred to the existing foundation. Many houses we work on are raised without any cracking. Minor cracking is not covered by our insurance. There should be no other forms of damage to the building structurally, or aesthetically caused by our work. If there is, it would be covered by our insurance.
Q: What kind of insurance does Nickel Bros. carry?
A: NB carries one of the the most comprehensive insurance policy available for raising and moving buildings. It would be truly negligent to have your building raised without adequate insurance, this applies not only to the building mover, but to all of the contractors involved in the lift. Our policy in general terms covers up to $5,000,000 worth of cargo coverage with $250,000 before excess liability charges.
Q: What if our house falls down?
A: The building is fully insured.
Q: What if someone is hurt on the site when it is up on blocks?
A: If the incident is relative to NB being on site, our liability covers up to $2,000,000.
Q: Do we need to hire a contractor that has worked on a raised house?
A: Although it is not a NB requirement, we would not recommend that you hire a contractor who cannot provide references for other structural lifting projects.
Q: Do contractors hire NB as subcontractors normally?
A: This happens on occasion, but the safest method insurance wise is for the customer to contract directly with NB.
Q: Are there any restrictions regarding the size of house to be raised?
A: We maintain that the only restrictions to raising any building are economic. If humans can build it, we can move it.
Q: How does NB get their equipment out once the foundation is completed.
A: Some holes are required to be made in the new walls for the removal of our equipment
Q: How long does it usually take to raise a house.
A: An average 1200 square foot house can generally be raised in one day.
Q: Do you need a copy of our house plans prior to raising?
A: Having a set of plans is helpful in determining a firm price for raising any building. It is normally required of the local building authority to provide them with a set of plans for the project and a copy of these plans are all that we need.
Q: Do you need a building permit?
A: A building permit is required for all new construction to take place beneath the building, although it is not required to have a building permit prior to raising the building, we do not recommend doing this without your building permit approval.
Q: Are their any added costs that are usually associated with raising a house that we wouldn’t think of?
A: It is important at the outset to determine whether the foundation will need to be replaced, we recommend that you contact your local building inspector to view the foundation prior to setting your budget. Research your local building and zoning by-laws to make sure there are no surprises. Ensure the contractor you have chosen is competent and qualified. If any excavation is required, we recommend you acquire a firm price, this can be the biggest grey area for budgeting. NB price to the customer is firm and final, provided the customer meets the requirements of the contract.
Q: How much does it cost to raise a house?
A: The price varies greatly by size of the structure and complexity. Please contact us for a free, no-obligation estimate.
More questions? Contact us.