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Gary Sylvester stood on a Manomet ocean bluff admiring his handiwork recently: a 2,500-square-foot home sitting atop nine wooden cribs. His crew had knocked out the foundation, then used a series of hydraulic jacks to lift the house up before moving it 15 feet inland and raising it by a foot.
Sylvester inherited the company from his father, who started Sylvester Building Movers in the 1950s, picking up and transporting houses to make way for highways. Business has changed since those days; house moving now only accounts for about 20 percent of his work. The rest is home elevation: lifting houses onto new foundations, supports, or pylons, often to protect them from surging waters during bad storms.
Now Sylvester is about to be busier than ever, following release of new federal flood-zone maps that include many more homes.