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Senator Bob Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee’s hearing on the FY 2011 Budget bills.

Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Chairman Bob Smith that would ensure that contractors hired to elevate homes are skilled and experienced to do the job was approved today by the full Senate.

“New Jersey has seen a surge of contractors entering the state looking for a piece of the clean-up and repair market in areas devastated by the superstorm,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset. “As FEMA standards are changing and homeowners are proactively looking to protect their property against future storms and flooding, many residents are having their homes elevated. With this legislation, we can provide homeowners with the peace of mind that that the home elevation company they hire and its employees are not only trained and well-prepared for the job, but is using the correct equipment.”

The bill, S-942, would protect homeowners who are elevating their homes by requiring that any contractor offering home elevation services  be registered with the state Division of Consumer Affairs. In order to be eligible for registration through the Division of Consumer Affairs, a home elevation business would need to have at least two years of experience as a home improvement contractor.  Additionally, any employee of the company who is actually engaging in performing home elevation would need at least five years experience in home elevation.

The bill would also require elevation contractors to use a home elevation jacking machine when elevating homes, which are capable of lifting the entire bulk of the structure in a simultaneous, synchronized manner. Using these machines has proven to be the most reliable and least accident-prone means of elevating buildings.

“This is not just about ensuring that consumers are getting high-quality work from home elevation contractors, but also a public safety issue. We have already seen accidents in the Highlands and Little Egg Harbor, where improper elevation procedures have injured workers and damaged homes. By implementing these registration requirements that require contractors to prove they are experienced and equipped to do the job, hopefully we can prevent future accidents from occurring,” said Senator Smith.

Under the bill, individuals who make false statements while attempting to register as a home elevation contractor would be subject to a penalty between $10,000 and $25,000.

The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 34-0.  It now heads to the General Assembly for further review.

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