Cryan, Eustace, Lagana & Sumter Bill to Increase Home Elevation Standards Gains Assembly Approval

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Cryan, Tim Eustace, Joseph Lagana and Shavonda E. Sumter that would increase standards for contractors working on home elevations was approved on Monday by the General Assembly.

The bill (A-3270) would require home elevation contractors to have at least five years of experience in home elevation and a minimum of two years of experience in home improvement upon registering with the Division of Consumer Affairs.

“Too many families in New Jersey have suffered enough already in the time since Hurricane Sandy,” said Cryan (D-Union). “This legislation will ensure that only qualified professionals are authorized to assist as we work to avoid devastation of that magnitude in the future.”

The legislation would also require every registered contractor engaging in home improvements to secure and maintain commercial general liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence. This would be in addition to coverage of at least $500,000 per occurrence in cargo insurance, or insurance coverage for the contents of the premises for any damages not covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy that may result from home elevation. Contractors would be required to present proof of insurance to the homeowner prior to agreeing to perform home elevation.

“Another storm like Sandy can mean even more distress for homeowners and businesspeople alike if we don’t take the proper precautions now,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill is just one of many steps we ought to take to prepare our state for future destructive weather occurrences.”

“We have a responsibility not just to rebuild, but to rebuild stronger and smarter than before,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “With this bill, we can help guarantee that only the best contractors are authorized to be a part of that process.”

The legislation addresses factors linked to the collapse of three New Jersey homes – one in Little Egg Harbor Township and two in Highlands – during the elevation process in the year after Hurricane Sandy. At least three construction workers sustained injuries while working to raise the Little Egg Harbor house last July, prompting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation.

“When the Passaic River flooded during Hurricane Sandy, contaminated water seeped into dozens of homes and posed a potential threat to the health of many families. Knowing that more mega-storms of this magnitude are to come, we need to be sure all New Jersey residents – no matter where they live – can safely take the proper precautions, which may include choosing to raise their houses,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Without sufficient standards regulating those in the business of raising houses, homeowners and workers in New Jersey are at risk.”

Persons who knowingly make false statements in the certification required for registration would be subject to a civil penalty of at minimum $10,000 and at maximum $25,000.

The bill passed 72-3-1 on Monday after receiving Senate approval in February.