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Wisniewski Legislation to Require Contractors Who Elevate Homes to Register with the DCA OK’d by Full Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat John S. Wisniewski to protect New Jersey homeowners who plan to raise their homes as a precautionary measure against flooding received final legislative approval by the full Assembly on Monday.

This bill (A-4394) would require any contractor offering services to elevate homes to be registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) as a home elevation contractor to have (1) five years of experience as a home improvement contractor; (2) at least two years of experience in home elevation which meets criteria established by the director; and (3) is in compliance with all the requirements of the “Contractors’ Registration Act,” P.L.2004, c.16 (C.56:8-136 et seq.).

The bill provides that experience in home elevation shall include both experience on home elevation projects and training in the operation of home elevation equipment. Also, in addition, to any other civil or criminal penalty that may apply, any person who makes a false statement of certification or who knowingly submits a false certification would be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $10,000 or more than $25,000. The bill would also direct the DCA to suspend or revoke the home improvement contractor registration and home elevation contractor of any person who violates any provision of this act.

“Many homeowners in New Jersey are currently planning on elevating their homes in order to protect against future flooding events,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “The work involved in raising a house to a higher level above the ground is a specific type of construction that has never been conducted in New Jersey on a scale comparable to what will be seen through the next several years.

“As a result, in order to protect homeowners, it is imperative for this State to implement new standards for contractors working on home elevations to ensure that those contractors are qualified to perform this important work, that they carry insurance sufficient to protect against unforeseen peril, and that the elevation work is conducted with equipment capable of lifting homes without frequent accidents or mishaps.”

This bill provides that all home elevation contractors to use a home elevation machine to complete each project. Home elevation machines are capable of lifting the entire bulk of the structure in a simultaneous, synchronized manner, and have proven to be the most reliable, least accident-prone means of elevating buildings.

Home elevation contractors would also be required to carry commercial general liability insurance in a minimum amount of $1,000,000 per occurrence. Finally, these contractors must carry an additional $500,000 in insurance to cover the contents of the premises for any potential peril not covered in the homeowner’s insurance policy that could result from elevating the house. Under the bill’s provisions, the Division of Consumer Affairs is directed to establish rules and regulations needed to meet the requirements of this legislation.

This bill was one of numerous measures discussed in a recent committee hearing examining the state’s use of federal funding in Sandy recovery.

The measure was approved 73-0-5. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.