According to Murphy's Law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong—at least part of the time. When you lift a house up off the ground, Murphy's Law would hold that if the building can fall off the supports, it will.

That's an extreme formulation of the risk, but the fact is, it can happen—and it has. And it could happen again—which has some New Jersey policymakers worried. The Asbury Park Press reported on the story on November 27 (for the full report, see: "NJ has no rules for firms that elevate homes," by Jean Mikle).

The Press describes three episodes in which houses being lifted fell: One in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., in July, and two in Highlands, N.J., the latest in September. Reports the Press: "When the house in Little Egg Harbor collapsed last July, three injured workers were taken to hospitals. The cause of the collapse is under investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to Leni Uddyback-Fortson, regional director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor. … A home on Locust Street in Highlands had been raised and placed on wooden cribbing by Hasenfus Construction, but it slipped off when a section of the cribbing apparently failed, causing the home to slide into two neighboring houses, according to Uddyback-Fortson. No one was injured, but all three homes were demolished."

New Jersey currently has no special rules for house lifting contractors, the Press reports, but that could be changing soon: "A pending bill would require those in the home lifting business to be registered as home elevation contractors. To receive such a registration, a contractor would need at least two years' home lifting experience, under the guidance of a veteran contractor," the paper reports. "Home elevation contractors would have to carry $1 million in general liability insurance, and would also need $500,000 in so-called 'cargo insurance,' a policy that covers the contents of a house during the lifting process. Traditional homeowners policies do not provide coverage for a home's contents while the house is being lifted."