Historic Charleston house first in country to get new, lifted foundation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Construction crews at Colonial Lake are placing a downtown Charleston home onto new foundation lifted above the ground.

The homeowner, Frieda Margolies, says this is the first historic home in the country to be placed onto a new, lifted foundation.

The Margolies' home has seen its fair share of disaster.

In September 2016, the family experienced a destructive fire. It had also fallen victim to flooding in almost every recent storm.

"This house is right on Colonial Lake which has flooded in our recent extreme events," said the City of Charleston director of planning Jacob Lindsey.

"In September of last year we were three feet deep in salt water," Gary Walters added.

Walters is the contractor in charge of the foundation lift and renovation process. He works for Southern Cross Management, LLC.

After approximately a year and a half, the Margolies' were finally gr anted approval from city staff to redo the structure's foundation.

"It protects the home against flooding. The new foundation is much more stable so it will protect it against storms, shifting, earthquakes," Walters said. "We have 72 helical piers that go down 80 feet to hit the hard surface."

The home was lowered onto the new foundation Wednesday afternoon.

It is now anchored to reinforced steel poured solid with concrete.

"They'll start removing the bracing and cribbing and lower it slowly down until it sits on the new foundation. Once it's settled, they take the steel IVs out and the stacks of wooden cribbing gets cleared out," Walters said.

Not only does this secure the building, there are financial benefits as well.

"The owner's flood insurance is currently $3,000 per year and goes up 12% each year. After we're above flood elevation, the insurance will go down to $500 each year," Walters explained.

"I hope that we can help others in flood zones with old homes that need to lift them. It will help them save a lot on insurance." Margolies said.

Walters said this may be the first historic home to get the foundation facelift, but he is in the permitting process to lift and preserve many more on the peninsula.

"There's a number of homeowners that have since come to us saying we're a historic home in downtown Charleston that has been flooded before and we'd like to raise our home up out of harm's way," Lindsey said.

As for the home, the next step is renovating it to the original state.

"These historic homes- there are very few places in the entire country like this, so it's important to lift and preserve them," Walters said. "It's such a beautiful, historic city and that's why people come here- to see it. We have to preserve it."

"When this is completed, I don't think anyone will know this changed from the original design," Lindsey said.

"I'll be very excited to be back home," Margolies said. "Very much so."

Walters anticipates having the homeowners move back in this summer.

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