Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zarrilli Homes Sets One of the First Modular Homes in Post Sandy NJ

The New Jersey Shore’s home builders, who only recently have begun to crawl out from the rubble left by the economy, are digging into Sandy’s aftermath for what could be a long and, for them, at least, prosperous rebuilding process.

On their doorstep are nearly 350,000 homes in New Jersey – or 10 percent of the state’s housing units – that the Christie Administration has calculated as being at least significantly damaged.

“The stories I hear every day, some of them are heartbreaking,” said Anthony Zarrilli, the owner of Brick-based Zarrili Homes. “But at the end of our meetings, they’re optimistic. They want to rebuild, and they want to stay in the area.”

With the prospect of residents who want to return home, the Shore’s builders are adding staff, hiring subcontractors and bracing for a backlog of work that could last months or even years.

They are ready to build to stricter standards. They are encouraged that municipal officials, long the subject of builder complaints, are trying to make rebuilding easier. Only one obstacle remains: Whether homeowners can put the financial pieces together to complete the recovery.

Maureen Mazzucca, 42, and her husband, Michael, lived in a house that was built in 1969 amid the lagoons in the Beach Haven West section of Stafford. She planned to stay through the storm, but changed her mind when she saw water rush into her garage from two different directions – hours before Sandy was scheduled to strike.

She stayed with family in Boonton and returned the next day to find five feet of water in the garage and nearly two feet of water in the house. The front doors were gone. Items from the kitchen were in the living room. Items from drawers were in the street.

Setting one of the first modular homes in post-Sandy NJ
Since then, she and her husband have been virtual nomads, alternating among family members and an apartment in northern New Jersey. They have fought with their insurance company. The ordeal has been a mental challenge, she said.

But they also are working on plans with Zarrilli Homes to rebuild a home strong enough to survive a tidal surge.

“We love where we live,” Mazzucca said. “You know your risks when you move on the water. But we love where we live down there. We want to stay in the area and show people you can rebuild, have something up to code and not worry about (storms).”

“Insurance sends the signal about where you can (afford to) live,” she said.

Yet you wouldn't know it, talking to Anthony Zarrilli.

Standing the Excel Homes modular that his company was building last week, one of the first in NJ, in Monmouth Beach, he said he expects his business to increase four-fold next year. He his hiring a project manager and adding clerical staff to keep up with the demand.

“I was afraid people weren't going to come back,” Zarrilli said. “But everybody wants to come back.”

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