House lifting is the process of raising a home above its foundation and then building a new foundation to take its place. There are some valid reasons real estate investors do this:
House lifting can add value to your investment property, but because of the scope of the project, it may or may not be the most beneficial choice. Find out the ins and outs of house lifting for your real estate investment.
The process of house lifting
Houses are lifted using a hydraulic jack. They are then held up with temporary supports. If the house has a basement or crawlspace, the living area is raised above the foundation and a new foundation will be built.
The house lifting process is typically easiest with frame-built homes with a basement or crawlspace, but house lifting can also be done with masonry veneer homes, masonry homes, and homes built on a concrete slab. (Masonry homes are brick homes where the bricks hold up the home. Masonry veneer homes are also built with bricks, but the framing holds up the bricks; the bricks don't hold up the house.) To lift a house on a slab, the house is usually left attached to the slab and both the home and slab are lifted. A new foundation is then built.
According to Fixr, the average cost to lift a 1,500-square-foot, wood-framed house with a basement and build a new foundation is $47,500. The average cost range for this type of project is $27,000 to $75,000, with a low of $21,000 and a high of $112,500.
The cost of your home-elevation project will be determined by a variety of factors:
- How high the house needs to be lifted.
- What sort of foundation will be built.
- The reason for the lifting project.
- The square-footage footprint of the house. Note the footprint, not height, is used to price for house size. However, the taller the home, the harder it will be to stabilize it, meaning more jacks and equipment will need to be used, and that adds to the cost.
The cost of lifting based on the type of project
The cheapest route for lifting is when the house will be moved to a new location. That type of project consists of hiring a lifting company, readying the house for the move (plumbing and electrical), and stabilizing it. A homeowner then pays any additional cost separately, including the transportation cost. If a new foundation needs to be built, that would add to the cost, as well.
When an existing foundation needs to be repaired, this will cost more than lifting to simply move a home from one place to another. Repairing a slab foundation is usually the cheapest and easiest job. If there's a basement that needs repairs, the job will probably cost more. Note that replacing the foundation will cost you more than just a foundation repair.
Lifting a flood-risk house above a flood zone is another good reason to raise a house. The higher the house needs lifting, though, the more expensive the job will be.
The actual lifting cost of the house, about $5,000 on average, is just a small part of the total cost. Other costs include getting a permit -- which can also cost about $5,000 -- and hiring a house-lifting service, a plumber, an electrician, and a structural engineer, all of which can cost you between $40 and $500 an hour, depending on the contractor and the job at hand.
A famous house that was lifted
If you're a fan of the musical Hamilton (or are a history buff), you might be interested to know that Alexander Hamilton's only house he ever owned, Hamilton Grange in New York City, was located in what was then called "Manhattan's uptown countryside." It's now Harlem.
Hamilton Grange was moved twice, first in 1889, when it was moved 250 feet north to get out of the way of a new road being built: 143rd Street. It stayed put until 2008 when it was moved a few blocks away where there would be more room around the home so that it could be renovated.
Risks associated with lifting a house
There are some risks associated with lifting a house. Whenever you raise a house, you could be weakening the structural integrity of the home. However, cracks in the drywall or stucco are the most common outcome. There could also be some shifting of walls and fixtures. And all the belongings in the house are subject to damage, so they all need to be removed or secured.
The Millionacres bottom line
House lifting, while not something you see done every day, is actually pretty common. If you want to add value to your existing home in a prime location, lifting that home to fix problems might be the ticket, especially if the cost to buy in that area prices you out of the market. Just as with anything else you do with your real estate investing endeavors, evaluate the reason you're considering a house lift and weigh that against the costs to determine whether a house-lifting project will benefit you overall.