Elevating a house after a hurricane is expensive, no matter who's paying for it. But one homeowner couple on the Jersey Shore say that because they worked with the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, their contractors charged significantly more for the work.
The Asbury Park Press has a report (see: "Home elevation costs in RREM through the roof," by Russ Zimmer). Little Egg Harbor homeowner Scott Ingold told the paper that the prices a contractor quoted him for elevating his house were tens of thousands of dollars lower than the eventual cost of the job after Ingold qualified to have the work paid for through RREM grants. After his contractor proposed to lift the house and build a deck for $103,208, Ingold decided to accept a $150,000 RREM grant. Later, itemized job cost estimates began to creep upward, eventually topping out at more than $200,000 — all paid for by grant money.
Ingold says his builder did excellent work, and he has recommended the company to others. Still, he feels the state could have husbanded its funds better. Writes the Asbury Park Press: "There's no proof that anything nefarious was going on in the Ingolds' case, and it simply may be a reflection of the cost of doing business with the government and its layers of protective measures." A county spokeswoman told the paper: ""Once HUD money gets involved in a property you have to address a lot of issues. Legitimate things, things that — with federal dollars — have to be included in the process."