NBC 4 New York
A veteran home raiser says contractors with no expertise are jumping into the lucrative home-raising market. One homeowner's disastrous attempt to raise his own Sandy-damaged home shows just how dangerous it is. Greg Cergol reports.
A Sandy victim's effort to raise his own Long Island home ended in disaster, and the home is now slated for demolition.
Billy Riedman, an auto mechanic, spent the last six months working on his own to elevate his storm-damaged Freeport home. The home-raising was necessary, Riedman said, because 5 feet of water had poured inside during Sandy.
"I didn't have the funds to pay contractors to do the work," Riedman said. "I was doing what I thought was right to get my life back together."
Just hours before the elevation work was to be completed this weekend, Riedman's home collapsed, falling from its temporary perch atop wood beams and cinder blocks.
No one was injured.
Freeport village officials have now ordered Riedman to demolish his home.
"I don't know how to pick up the pieces right now," said Riedman. "My blood, sweat and tears went into this."
Just days before the collapse, Freeport had issued a stop-work order to Riedman. According to village Mayor Robert Kennedy, Riedman had no permits or insurance and his work was "unsafe."
"He did continue to raise the home against the stop-work order and that's when the problem occurred," said Kennedy.
"I think it was pure desperation. He wanted to raise his home, to get back inside. He didn't have the finances to do it." Kennedy added.
Five hundred Freeport village homes remain vacant post-Sandy, and according to the mayor, state aid has yet to come to many in need, like Riedman.
But one expert said the Riedman case highlights another growing problem: home-raising work in some Long Island communities is being done by unqualified contractors.
According to the owner of Westbury-based Zucaro Construction, several unqualified contractors have jumped into the lucrative post-Sandy home-raising business, and a repeat of what happened to Riedman is possible.
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties require specific home-raising licenses, said Andy Zucaro. Homeowners should verify a contractor has one before hiring anyone.
Freeport's mayor urged homeowners to check with their building departments for guidelines and other vital information before embarking on a job that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.