Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hello Sandsters -
Hopefully this post finds you well and moving along with your project.
It’s been too long since I’ve written, so we have a bit of catching up to do.
We’ll give you an update to the World Record for Most House Elevations in a Single Week (still holding, even though it was 10 days and not 1 week). We’ll mention our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar in Toms River on 11/13/14, list our first Worst Townships at the Shore, and speak about cost/benefit and adding value during your elevation project. We give you our latest thoughts in the world of RREM.
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – November 13th – Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library in the green room. We’ll start at 6 and keep answering questions until they kick us out. We’ll be hosting Jeff Barton, architect, Evan Hill, engineer and Kathy Dotoli, an attorney in Toms River. I’ll be moderating and providing construction input and we’ll be serving light refreshments. Please call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.
World House Lifting Record – Update – Ok, we didn’t make 3 in one week but we did do it in 10 days. 2 of the houses have had new foundations completed and had the houses lowered back down, and one is scheduled to be lowered this week. Not bad time considering we lost some days to lousy wet weather. The fall has been busy and it looks like it will continue right into the winter.
Cost / Benefit and Saving Money: I’ve written much about various aspects of cost, pricing and value in the elevation / new construction process and I thought I’d touch on that again.
Remember Sandsters – just because an architect draws a pretty picture of something you just need to have, a builder tells you a great ideas you should really add to your home, a mason shows you beautiful stone work and hardscape or a flooring person tells you how amazing porcelain tile would look in your kitchen or sunroom, does not mean that you should consider these options if they don’t work for you or your budget.
Assuming that money is a consideration (which it normally is to some extent), if the contemplated improvement does not add demonstrable value to your home or improve your quality of life in some manner, think long and hard about making an unnecessary improvements during your elevation process.
It is not necessarily the best idea to include every home improvement you’ve been dreaming about for the last decade, just because you must raise your house to avoid getting buried with higher flood insurance rates.
One action (elevating your home) is the minimum rational response to an unexpected event which you are undertaking to protect asset value and prevent greater expense in the future. The other action (adding in every new option you can think of while rebuilding) is not a necessary one, and can sometimes cause you more grief than you need to deal with while raising your home.
Consider breaking your project into “Need” and “Want”. Once you’ve covered the “Need”, if your budget allows, cautiously add options, with an eye towards both resale and immediate usability.
Changing a deck from 20 year old painted pressure treated wood to composite decking and vinyl rail is a worthwhile improvement and something that is more convenient to do while elevating. While not necessary, it offers great resale value as well as savings in maintenance time and cost.
Adding a course or two of concrete block to your foundation to get to base flood plus 3 is the most worthwhile investment you can make, dollar for dollar. The cost to add concrete is often saved in a year or two of lower flood insurance premiums.
Redoing the entire yard in pavers, extensive landscaping, repainting the house, installing $20 per square foot marble tile or $14 psf hardwood, changing a perfectly good 5 year old kitchen, getting new appliances or a new garage door may or may not add value and don’t have to be done with your elevation project. They can all easily be done at a later time.
These are just some thoughts to help you keep perspective.
Building Departments & Zoning issues – Repeat of THE PUSH … That’s when you bring in a pile of paper you have very meticulously prepared and present it proudly to the person at the counter. They detect a period out of place and slowly push your application back to you with a smirk, a sad shake of the head and a, “Get what you’re missing and come back and try it again…better luck next time…!”.
Warning: Begging, fainting, feigning injury, knowing the mayor, the governor, the Pope, threatening to call any of these people, explaining that your project is a RREM project (60% of active jobs are) or threatening to call the DCA will generally not work to motivate your local building department to move at any greater than a glacial pace. Cookies occasionally work. Caustic humor sometimes will move the needle a bit. Usually, you just suffer…and wait…and wait.
Here we go again with The Blog Rant… See my last blog for more detailed cynical criticism of building departments up and down the shore…For this blog we’ll simply list the townships we’re working in, from Worst to Best…Brick, Toms River, Little Egg, Stafford all tied for worst in class…Point and Lacey are much better…Ship Bottom is ok…Barnegat & Ocean Gate are ok…unfortunately over 50% of affected Sandsters are living in the first 4 towns, which are the worst….L The last time I went to Brick, there was actually a man in the waiting room who had died waiting for a permit and was starting to smell a little bad. (Yes, I’m kidding. They do clean the bodies up at the end of each day).
Like I said in the last blog, I think we should move to a Domino’s Pizza format – 21 days or It’s Free! What’s wrong with that? We would all be thrilled to save $2000 if the permit process took 22 days or longer!
We’re being charged for permit review and inspections – they’re not free.
Another idea is to have the township pay us $100 for each inspection that is scheduled over 72 hours after being requested. If that happened, no one will mind the delays, as long as they pay us when they’re late.
We should be lobbying for the 21 Days or It’s Free Bill in the state legislature. That would do more to speed up rebuilding the shore than any other single action.
Repeat: Building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit and inspection process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary.
Reminder – dealing with delays: If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the mayor and the DCA and complain. Eventually they will get tired of your antics and you will get your permit.
Townships, Sandsters are really tired of being treated like we’re an annoyance. We’re paying your salaries and it’s time you started realizing that – and time that we started reminding you quite loudly.
Tip to Speed Up Your Project – Surveys/Foundation Location/Piling certs: Reminder to get your piling certifications and foundation / girder survey in to the township as soon as possible after your pilings & girders / concrete foundation is complete. Often you can’t schedule additional inspections until this inspection has passed. Surveys and certifications take time, so order them immediately after finishing your foundation so you won’t be delayed.
RREM Path B – Latest Secret – Repeat, review and comment: Since we’ve arrived at a performance based metric for evaluation of program managers, the money flow has really started to improve. Repeat: Program managers are now being evaluated based on how much money they manage to release to Path B Sandsters in a given period of time. That is excellent news for those Sandsters who are prepared and ready to go, since yours is the file that is now most likely to be plucked from the queue and given priority. We’ve finally (and not a moment too soon) arrived at a rational evaluatory process to gauge how we’re doing with RREM.
Tip: In order for your case manager or construction manager to be able to move your file along, you need a contract with a contractor who has been approved by RREM. Without that to review, as well as the insurance and license information so the builder can be approved by RREM, your project will not move, so the ball is firmly in your court Sandsters.
Summary: If you’re not getting movement on your file, look to yourself first because your PM is very interested in getting your money to you.
Reminder – Repeat – Good 1st step to get started: If you aren’t living in your home, and know you are raising or demolishing it, call for your electric, gas and cable disconnects. There’s no reason not to, and it will be one more item off the list. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.
Great Step #2: Start your design work. Soil boring, plans, survey, plot plan. If you haven’t found a builder who is handling all of this for you, there’s no reason other than sloth why you shouldn’t get it started yourself. You’re going to spend approximately the same amount anyway. There’s no reason you can’t be ready to go when you finally find a builder you’re comfortable with.
Remember, design and survey fees cost you the same amount whether you do them yourself directly with the architect, engineer, township, etc. or whether you have your builder or contractor handle that work. It’s just a question of being able to start working on your project, even if you haven’t chosen a contractor.
Important Note: DO NOT try and general contract your own home elevation project house yourself…unless you are very experienced in construction and management, have another house to live in that is close by, have an extremely competent flexible disposition, have more money than you think you need and enjoy mental anguish. You should be single also, unless you really don’t care if your spouse is around or talking to you when you’re finished. (kidding but only a little).
This is not a deck or adding a room. It’s complicated and professionals make mistakes on every job. It’s not something that you should undertake yourself.
Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project:
Lowest adjacent grade (LAG): This is an important elevation since the lowest point in your crawl space has to be even or above the LAG. That is important because even if you don’t want your crawl filled that much (so you have more storage space) you will not pass final zoning / final building if this condition is not met. LAG is defined as the lowest grade immediately next to your house. There can easily be a foot or more difference between one side and the other, or back to front, so if you wish to use the least amount of fill (maximizing room in the crawl) make sure you find the lowest adjacent elevation.
Elevation: Elevation refers to “height above sea level” and not the height above grade at the house or distance the house is being elevated. It’s easy to make a mistake with these descriptions and it causes much confusion. Example: If you are raising your home to elevation 11, your finished floor is 6 and your grade is 4.5, you are raising your house 5’ to elevation 11, or 6.5’ above grade. When you use the expression “elevating my home 5 feet” that means you are lifting it 5’ from where it is now. The expression “building or raising the home to elevation 11” refers to the height above sea level, not the distance you are lifting.
Survey: An exact depiction of what exists on your lot, from a top view.
Plot plan: A top view of what you are proposing to build, including new heights, stairs, entries, decks, etc.
They are not the same and you will need both for your project.
You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg
It is not edited and is about 2 hours so feel free to fast forward and skip around to watch what you like and need to know.
Go Pro – I am going to get a Go Pro and film the chaos that is a house lift. Stay tuned for laughs and (hopefully) greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.
Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. Whether or not you are Dream Homes/Atlantic Northeast Construction client or not, I’ll always try and help you or guide you in the right direction. If you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.
Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. and Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC are new home builders and general contractors who are actively renovating and reconstructing projects up and down the shore. We actually do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.
That’s all for today Sandsters. I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.
Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894
Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000
PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731
Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802
Cell: 732 300 5619