Suffolk unveils bill to help owners lift homes

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced legislation Friday that would allow only contractors with higher insurance to obtain licenses to elevate homes.

The legislation is expected to be introduced Tuesday, said Wayne Horsley, the legislature's deputy presiding officer.

Under the proposed legislation, only a contractor with at least $500,000 in insurance coverage for each construction site could raise a home. In addition, a contractor must have $2 million in total insurance coverage for all its operations.

Some contractors see an opportunity to "take advantage of overwhelmed homeowners" after a natural disaster such as superstorm Sandy, said Tracey Beach, a spokeswoman for the region's chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Arguments still occur even when a contractor has sufficient insurance.

Bellone made the announcement in front of the Babylon home of Jeanne Gargiulo, who is in a dispute with her contractor for a home elevation.

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When Sims Steel of Lindenhurst lowered the wood-frame structure onto the foundation, the house dropped six inches and slid back two feet, the contractor said.

Gargiulo, a nurse practitioner whose husband, Tom, has run for Babylon Town Board, said Sims charged her thousands of dollars in extra repairs and filed a lien on her house last week.

Bill Sims, president of Sims Steel, acknowledged the home was dropped, and said his company repaired the damage. "Things happen from time to time," he said of the incident, citing particular difficulties with raising flood-damaged homes.

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He disputed that he'd added extra charges and said he filed the lien after the family failed to pay the remainder of the bill.

Sims, whose company has $2 million in insurance and is also a member of NARI, said the legislation would overly burden contractors.

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