Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information received following publication
Typically when we get photos of a construction project it’s before and after, showing off a contractor’s work and homeowner’s pride. This time, it was the other way around. Bill Wojtowicz, owner of Premiere Contractors, sent us these after and before shots of his client’s house minus the 120 square foot porch Premiere built a few years ago to replicate the house’s original one. A tree demolished the porch during Hurricane Sandy. He’s now working with the homeowner’s insurance company and will be rebuilding it.
When a tree falls and its path collides with a house, contractors’ phones ring, and they’re now busy making inspections at damaged homes, preparing estimates, conferring with homeowners and insurance companies; some are already deep into repair and reconstruction work.
Jack Finn of Jack Finn & Company Building Contractors, a busy local firm, has been called out by about a dozen homeowners to access damage when trees broke windows and their frame, punctured roofs, and trashed siding, trim, decks, railings, gutters and other detail work. While he’s only seen one house with a completely demolished second and third floor – probably in the neighborhood of $200,000 or more in reconstruction – most of the jobs are, thankfully for the homeowners, are in the $10,000 to $20,000 range.
Last year’s hurricane, October storm and microburst actually resulted in more homes damaged locally, Finn said, but this time around, he’s also gotten requests from potential clients in the shore area. Normally, he wouldn’t venture that far, but a past client, a Montclair resident who now lives in Normandy Beach called, and soon that man’s neighbors were calling too.
Both Finn and Wojtowicz report they’ve also received many calls from Baristaville residents about permanent natural gas powered generators, which can be installed outside the home connected to the house’s gas service, and automatically turn on in the event of a power outage. Wojtowicz said that’s been keeping the electrical contracting arm of his business quite busy. With so many old trees growing near the curb around Montclair, the root system is weak, he explained, and when they fall, they often topple toward the house and wipe out wires at the same time.
Martin Schwartz, contractor, Urbane Construction-Textured Home, who works on Montclair area homes and around the tri-state, is starting demolition and clean-up on a Montclair house where a tree came crashing through the roof, completely demolishing large areas of the 3rd and 2nd floors and the exterior. The homeowners were inside at the time.
Following last year’s Hurricane Irene, Urbane-Construction was brought in to restore the front of a detailed, c. 1860’s Montclair gem taken down by a huge tree. Unfortunately, the first insurance appraiser completely underestimated the damage really needed to bring the property back to its former glory – even with a full replacement value policy. Schwartz negotiated with the construction expert sent back to follow-up and was able to increase the settlement significantly.
“In the end, this may be the best façade and porch we’ll ever build,” Schwartz said. “The original woods stood for over 150 years. It’s been replicated now with equivalent species. But most homeowners today just won’t don’t allocate the same level of quality workmanship on their own.”
What about you? Did falling trees cause house damage, and are you now dealing with lining up construction repairs? Tell us in comments.