Hurricane Harvey – 1 Year Later

One year later, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Houston homeowners and city planners are still working to resolve one of the city’s most serious issues – flooding.

The fact is, Hurricane Harvey, considered a “500-year storm” was hardly the first catastrophic flooding event suffered by Houstonians. For many of Houston’s long-term residence, the issues related to flooding of homes and properties is something they  have grown up with. And it only seems to be getting worse. Just recently, before Harvey struck in 2017, there were the “Tax Day” floods in 2016 and the “Memorial Days” floods in 2015, both of which resulted in serious and costly damage to Houston properties.

As recently as last month, the “4th of July” floods which seemingly came out of nowhere, resulted in 167 stranded vehicles needing to be removed from Houston roadways. Fortunately, the damage to structures was minimal, but as Rob Lazaro, a spokesperson for the Harris County Flood Control District put it, “It’s just a reminder for us that there’s still a lot of work that we need to do,” – statement courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

While long term flood control solutions are still only in the early planning stages and could take years to implement, there are actionable measures available right now that can be taken to preserve homes and even businesses during catastrophic flooding events. Even ones as devastating as Harvey.

You Can Elevate the Way You Live

homeowner in Houston elevates home after floodLongtime Fulshear resident, Jo Douglass chose to elevate her home instead of moving after Hurricane Harvey. Her home took on more than six inches of water, but after forty years and a lifetime of memories, leaving her home and all its behind memories was not an option. Jo turned to Olshan to elevate her house to prevent future flood damage:

“My contractor and I chose to use Olshan again because they have always stood by their warranty and have been a pleasure to work with many times in the past,” says Jo.

Home elevation allows your family to stay in the home and neighborhood that you are rooted in. By physically elevating your home away from damaging flood waters, home elevation offers protection should flood waters rise again. Elevation is also more affordable and less disruptive compared to tearing down the existing home and building a new one. It can also help preserve the community and keep your neighborhood’s history intact through restoration instead of demolition and new construction.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Moving to a new home involves putting your life on hold and can cause stress:

  • It’s Disruptive. Even the easiest move can be hard on families. Kids of all ages can react poorly to moving, with changes in friends, schools and places of worship.
  • It’s Time-Consuming. From packing all of your belongings, to shopping for a new home, to selling your current home, moving takes up a lot of your valuable time.
  • It’s Stressful. Buying and selling a new home can seem like a full-time job. Between open houses, staging, prospective buyers, fussy owners, paperwork and more.

Add Value Now, Increase Value Later

A damaged home will sell for much less than a home in good condition, while a home that has been carefully maintained, elevated and enhanced can increase its curb appeal and equity. Moving after a disaster can destroy all the equity you’ve worked so hard to build.

In addition, when done right, home elevation is a safe construction procedure for all types of homes, including homes on slab foundations, pier and beam homes, and block and base homes, all of which can be safely lifted. Even commercial buildings like restaurants, retail shops and warehouses can be elevated. Here are some great reasons for elevating your home or business:

  • It takes your home away from dangerous flood waters and protects your belongings
  • It brings older homes up to date on current codes and building regulations
  • It can save you money on flood insurance: One Webster family’s premium decreased by nearly 90%

For some property owners, home elevation is the best weapon in the battle against flood waters. The cost of home elevation varies, but is determined primarily by the type of foundation (slab vs pier & beam) and height of the lift (in-ground vs elevation above grade) and Olshan offers a no-cost estimate.

The good news is property owners may be eligible for government assistance through FEMA as well as through Texas Rebuilds and other recovery initiatives. To date, over $13 billion dollars in federal funds have already reached survivors. Research is vital: there may be funds available that you weren’t even aware of and Olshan is available to help you identify sources of aide.

Our Communities Make Houston a Unique, and Wonderful Place to Live

You don’t have to be a native Houstonian to appreciate the uniqueness of Houston neighborhoods. Every community is an ecosystem unto itself that adds life and vibrancy to the Greater Houston area. The reality is; communities, families, homes and businesses across our area were significantly impacted by Harvey as well as past storms. And most certainly will be again in the future. Whether you live in Meyerland, Bellaire, The Heights, Memorial, Katy, Kemah, Alvin, Friendswood, Kingwood, Atascocita, Cypress, or Champions or any point in between, you personally, someone you know, or a neighbor have been impacted by flooding.

Home elevation can help preserve the uniqueness of our communities and preserve the culture within them, while helping communities and families feel more secure when the next storm hits.

The truth is, community health, improvements, and funding for local infrastructure suffer when families leave en masse. There’s no one left to pay the taxes that pave our roads, fund public education, pay law enforcement and emergency responders, repair the sewers, and many other public services that are often taken for granted.

Demolished homes steal value away from more than just the home and the homeowner. Empty lots can quickly transform into eyesores and urban blight that lower surrounding property values. It’s all too easy to picture the overgrown grass and rusting chain link fences that all too often become home to unsavory activities that have no place in a safe family-friendly community. The EPA reports illegal dumping as a major issue in vacant lots.

Rebuilding also means re-selling for developers. As long-time residents leave, new residents arrive. Demographics and electorates shift, the community’s history and culture changes, and traditions fall by the wayside.

A Qualified Contractor Can Make Elevation Easy

house raising project in progressAs with any serious investment, choosing to elevate your home is not an impulse decision. Understanding the process is key. Finding a highly qualified contractor who is experienced and reputable is important.

A successful elevation project starts with a local contractor, who understands the local soils, where fault lines are and the other geological conditions that make Houston unique. A qualified contractor must also understand each phase of the project and have the proper insurance, financial backing and safety programs in place to ensure a safe, timely and successful elevation. The truth is, not every home elevation contractor is qualified to take on projects of this magnitude and complete them on time and on budget, which is why they sometimes fail in the wrong hands.

This is because home elevation is a complex process governed by more than just a homeowner’s desire to protect their family and home. It involves collaboration with engineers, the city or governing municipality, and ensuring that everything is in compliance with the current regulations.

Olshan is Here to Help

If we work together, we can truly elevate the way we live and help prevent families and communities from experiencing the devastating effects of flooding. For eighty-five years, Olshan has been a proud part of the Houston community and has helped more than 50,000 Houston area property owners live better in their existing homes. Today, tomorrow and for the next 100 years, Olshan will be here to help Houston strengthen, rebuild, and protect its properties.

Whether you are looking to rebuild a home, a neighborhood or a city, Olshan is the reputable contractor, with local know-how and resources you need on your team.

If you are interested in home elevation, we offer a no-cost consultation.

Before Elevation
Before Elevation

After Elevation During Flood
After Elevation During Flood

Before Elevation
Before Elevation

After Elevation
After Elevation

Chris Cates, Olshan Subject Matter Expert

Chris Cates

Chris has been in the foundation repair industry since the late 80’s. He has 40+ years of experience designing foundation repairs plans of all types and sizes. Chris’ work and expertise has been featured in the local Houston media several times, including appearances on the CW39 News, Click 2 Houston News, ABC 13 News, The Sealy News and The Houston Business Journal. Chris’ important work in research and development, played an integral role in the development of a patented repair method (US Patent #10,428,516 B2) designed to stabilize damaged tilt walls. Chris Cates is recognized as an innovator in the industry both locally and nationally.