Milford Home Demolition Caused by Combination of Factors: Building Official

The City of Milford updated its building codes to go along with the Federal government’s flood insurance regulations after Irene and Sandy, and since then hundreds of homes have been raised successfully.

Something went wrong in Milford during a common home renovation on the shoreline meant to prevent flood damage during bad storms, and it led to the home being demolished.

The clean-up continued on Cooper Avenue Tuesday after city officials decided knocking the house down was the only option following a mishap during renovations to raise it several feet off the ground.

“Whether it was uneven settlement or not I can’t be sure,” City of Milford Building Official Joseph Griffith told NBC Connecticut over the phone. “And then at the same time I believe the new framing that was provided supporting the house was not yet completed.”

Another factor that could have led the house to shift and tilt is that the neighborhood is built on marshlands, Griffith said.

“That building had been up in the air for my guess two weeks, so it probably was subject to stronger winds than we saw yesterday,” Griffith added.

As a precaution, neighbors next door had to be evacuated during the demolition. The only injury was a worker who injured his arm.

“It was amazing how they were able to take it down without incident,” said Elizabeth Gunning, who lives on nearby James Street.

Gunning’s home had several feet of flooding during Irene in 2011 and the next year during Sandy she said the flooding was even worse. But she has opted not to have her home lifted off the ground.

“You can get a grant but I’m not doing it,” Gunning said. “I’m moving to higher ground.”

Gunning said she was not surprised to see the home fall while being raised because “all these foundations are shot, these houses really need to be just leveled and started from scratch because you can’t lift a house that has rotted floorboards.”

Griffith would not identify the contractor working on the now demolished home.

“The elevated contractor,” he said, “we have a lot of experience with and he’s very expert and professional.”

Despite the dramatic video from the shoreline that is gaining attention in Connecticut and beyond, Griffith said homeowners by the water should still elevate their homes before the next major storm.

A Milford home had to be demolished after an accident while raising the home for repairs caused the structure to become unsafe.

“If they’re not required to do so,” he said, “they should elect to do so, yes.”

The City of Milford updated its building codes to go along with the Federal government’s flood insurance regulations after Irene and Sandy. Since 2012, Griffith said he could only recall one other home in Milford that fell down out of about 250 that have been or are in the process of being raised.

The Cooper Avenue homeowner declined to speak with NBC Connecticut on-camera.

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