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Dream Homes / Atlantic Northeast Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 3-1-15 – Rebuilding Seminar 3/5/15 – RREM Payment Nightmare & Rental assistance extended – Working with Contractors in RREM – Path C Sadness – HVAC under the house – Winter Misery

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

3/1/15

Hello Sandsters –

I hope this blog finds you and your families well.

It’s sunny and 75 here (in my dreams) and if you’re really fortunate, you’re somewhere warm and sunny in real life. I’ve had so many Sandster clients decamp for the south in the last 2 months that I’ve almost started to take it personally. If I had feelings I would be hurt. (I do have one Multi-Feeling I use for all purposes, but that doesn’t really count here.) For some odd reason, folks just get uncomfortable in 10 degree weather and would rather be in Lauderdale where it’s 77. Go figure.

We’ve all been getting hammered with the cold weather the last few weeks but working outside has been particularly lousy. We have freezing temperatures, slush, ice, snow and frozen ground. I’ve been making futile offerings and conducting prayer sessions to the Construction Gods to give up a footing inspection every now and then. We’re heat taping, torching, blanketing, pumping, salting and de-icing – and essentially achieving little except furious activity, broken tools and really unhappy team members. The glass is consistently murky, and only slightly full. When one is going through hell, one must keep going. Men are unhappy but are not permitted to quit on my watch (dying is ok – quitting isn’t), so many people currently dislike me. Such is life.

Warm weather update: Spring 2015 is occurring in 20 days and not a moment too soon. We have suffered enough with this winter. For more on that subject – see detail above and later in this blog.

Today we have some interesting RREM news, and a much needed extension of the Rental Assistance Program. We talk about considerations for HVAC duct work under your house, working with experienced RREM contractors who can handle awful RREM payment delays, the joy of winter construction, and an update on our Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday, March 5. It’s a pretty aggressive schedule, so maybe I’ll do a few bloglets today instead of a novel. Probably not though. Writing discipline is something I have not mastered as of yet.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar schedule: We’ll be holding our (rescheduled) Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar in Toms River this Thursday March 5 at the Ocean County Library. (One of the few intelligent decisions I made this winter was to postpone the seminar 2 weeks ago, when it was 8 degrees at 6 pm.) It is on Washington Street from 6-9. We’ll have great speakers, including Evan Hill, PE, Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, AIA. George Kasimos from Stop Fema Now will be there as well. As always, I’ll be moderating and providing general construction commentary and we’ll tell you how to design it, survey it, build it and protect it. We’ll be serving light refreshments. As a note, we’ll be upstairs in the Home Town Dairy room, as opposed to the Green Room where we normally hold court. Please drop me a note or give me a call if you plan on attending, so you don’t have to stand out in the hall and sneak in for cookies…JJ 732 300 5619 or vince@dreamhomesltd.com.

Tip: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go the blog and “follow” it. Sometimes I don’t send email alerts when I blog but if you “follow” the blog you will get an email reminder when I scribble away. We’re also on Facebook if you want to Friend us or post a comment.

Here’s some great news from the State of NJ – an extension to the rental assistance program. The program opens on 3/16/15 and will pay up to $825 per month going forward. It is for 3 months and you can apply for one extension. You have to have a mortgage on your house being elevated and you must not have completed your project. Details are below.

As a note, thank you Governor for paying a bit of attention to us out here in SandyLand. Any crumbs of attention that you sprinkle upon us are truly appreciated while you are trying to get elected as our next President. Good luck with that. Here’s the link.

http://www.renewjerseystronger.org/february-26-2015-christie-administration-announces-short-term-rental-assistance-for-sandy-impacted-homeowners-in-the-rrem-and-lmi-homeowners-rebuilding-programs-while-they-repair-their-homes/

You can also go to www.renewjerseystronger.org for more info.

Stop Fema Now Association: We are now a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now (www.stopfemanow.com) which is an outstanding organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters from FEMA misery. We think those folks are doing more to try and protect the interests of Sandsters than all the HUD and DCA committees combined. While we help people on an individual basis, they are trying to improve the system, which is a much more worthy pursuit. We’ve been trying for 2 ½ years to educate and assist people through their Sandy trials and SFN is an organization with whom we are in complete agreement. I had another great conversation recently with George Kasimos, the organization president, and again I was thankful for people who try and beard the proverbial tiger in his den. George and his organization are actually attempting to change policy to improve the situation for thousands of Sandsters and that is an effort we wholeheartedly support. If you want to get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is listed above in this paragraph.

Repeat – Elevation height – Make Sure you consider your HVAC duct below the house: This item is critically important and often overlooked by (almost all) engineers, architects and builders who haven’t done many lifts.

Simply put, determine what your township will allow as far as elevation of the HVAC duct in the crawl space. Some townships have no restriction, some are at minimum Base Flood to the bottom of the duct, some are at BF+1 to the bottom. See the last blog for much more detail on this item. From this point forward I will include this item in the Definitions section at the end of the blog.

Must repeat: “C” is for Catastrophe – I just have to reprint this from two blogs ago, along with a very sad letter from a fellow Sandster who has been completely abused by Path C.

In the “If you wanna get really annoyed” category, the latest RREM audit findings have concluded, among other aggravating tidbits, that 12 of the original Path C contractors were not properly vetted by the state of NJ and may have improprieties in their backgrounds!

Shocking news.

(Author’s Note: To all of you reading this who have chosen to convert or stay in Path C, remember that when one lies down with dogs, one must expect fleas. If you are stuck in Path C through no fault of your own and couldn’t choose Path B or convert, God be with you.)

(Author’s note #2: Believe it or not, there are still people that are switching out of Path B into Path C which is foolish in the extreme. Choose Path C over Path B be only if you are really masochistic.

Note: You are probably much better off trusting the potential level of your skill and attentive common sense than a government entities’ fairly certain non-interested incompetence.)

To any Sandsters trying to decide if making your own decisions about your rebuilding project and staying in Path B is the intelligent way to proceed, read this article and the email below from a fellow Sandster. Think long and hard about trusting someone the state inflicts upon you in the hopes that all will be jes’ peachy. Blaze your own trail – you’ll ultimately be happier.

http://www.app.com/story/news/local/2015/01/20/report-state-thoroughly-vet-rrem-contractors/22066943/

Sad email: A partial email from a Path C Sandster: Vince…I am on Mystic Island in Ocean County and with Pathway C for about 2 years now. My wife and I now are selling out and have given up . The promises of funds and lies of RREM have come to an end. I have been following you for quite some time now and wanted to switch to B from C but were told, we could not change paths. (Author’s note: You can always change Paths if you insist long and hard enough.) 

In the 11th hour (Nov 2014) we were told we did not have enough money to fund our project. The contractors told us they couldn’t lift our home and it needed to be knock it down and one of their modular homes be put up. Homes are being lifted all around us. This was after we received an award letter from RREM to lift and finish our home in Dec. 2013. The estimate award was $128,000.  

I put approx. $30,000 into it after the flood from an (SBA loan) and there was $70,000 put into it 7 or 8 years ago 2 or 3 years before Sandy. If you drove past and walked around my property you would never know there was a flood. It’s in great shape. The contractors in Pathway C told us they would have to knock it down and build one of their homes on site and they assured me I had the funds for over a year “no problem” to do this. Over the holidays RREM ran out of money. Gap funds or reimbursement for the money I put in for repairs was depleted. When they asked if I wanted reimbursement almost 2 years ago, I said no. I wanted to make sure they knew we had good intentions. We wanted our home back and nothing more.

 We got the $150,000 grant award a year or so (Dec 2014) after the first award letter (Dec 2013). The only problem is the contractor wanted me to come up with $40,000 dollars more. We have been out of my house since Sandy. My health gave in- we gave up, and now we are about to sell for peanuts. The last thing I heard just last night, through an email by the contractor was “we could switch to pathway B”  After 2 years with RREM in pathway C which we were advised to take because of extra funds like the GAP fund and the trust that the state was selling, we tried to stick it out. We are now truly, victims of hurricane Sandy.  Please tell others don’t rely on these promises and take matters into your own hands. Time is just as important as money.”

To which I will simply add, “Time is much more valuable than money. Don’t waste one minute of your life on a pursuit (Path C) where the guidelines are completely unclear and subject to change.” Put in simple language, “If you don’t understand the rules of the game, don’t play.”

Which brings us to….Working with Experienced Contractors, Part 2 – (Important) Partial Repeat

We’ve said many times that it is vitally important that your contractor or builder have experience with actual elevation projects, as well as experience dealing with RREM paperwork and payment delays. The contractor who did your interior renovation after Sandy is probably not the person who should do your elevation project. That is not because they are not a good contractor. They might be a great contractor, but not familiar with elevation and RREM work. Ask specifically if they are familiar with RREM paperwork requirements as well as the delays in payment. You don’t want your contractor or builder to stop working because RREM is paying slowly and they can’t fund operations.

Repeat – Dismal, Sade Winter Weather Repeat – Part III – A nod to anyone working in this weather and a special thanks to all our guys:

We don’t like it, but we do it. Neither rain, nor snow, nor idiotic bureaucracy shall slow us down. We work 7 days a week when needed and in all kinds of crappy weather when we have to. Being out in the field gives one a great appreciation for how difficult working in harsh weather can be.

Otherwise, it’s the same old, same old unpleasant nonsense. It’s a mess and everyone feels the same – cold, annoyed and aggravated. Ground is frozen so you have to drill, jackhammer or use frost teeth on a machine just to break through the frost and dig. Getting footings inspected and poured (usually 2 separate days unless you’re really lucky) is an exercise in frustration involving ice, mud, slush and frozen pipe.

There is always darkness before the proverbial dawn, and we look forward to the sunlight of warmer times.

New development: Dream Homes Mobile Web Site is now Live!

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com from your mobile device and see a mobile site tailored to a smaller screen. Hopefully this is helpful to mobile Sandsters.

Design work and timing: Summer & Fall 2015. If you have your design work complete, you can just about be back in your house mid summer if you can file for permits in the next few weeks. If that’s your goal, call us (or someone else able to accommodate your schedule) so we can help you make that happen. If you aren’t quite ready to file, it is a great time to schedule for a September start to your project. We currently have a dozen Sandsters who we are starting in the fall – too much stress for them to get it done before summer and there are much cheaper rentals in the fall/winter at the shore.

Worst Town and Most Improved at the Shore, weekly update: I am taking a pass on this item this week. We’ve failed so many footing inspections everywhere that I think we are in the running for a new Guinness record. There is no professional courtesy in the winter and the chances of getting 2 consecutive winter days of dry weather above 25 are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Sometimes the inspector just sits in his car and laughs at us (4 guys standing there like idiots with pumps, salt, propane torches and thermal blankets). “Are you guys serious? There’s 3 inches of snow on the ground and I see you’re pumping icy water, thermal blanketing and sacrificing Abyssinian chickens….I really appreciate your efforts, but do you really think I am getting out of my car so I can break my ankle (and my ass) in a snow covered footing trench? Heeheehee. Try again next week boychik.” ‘Tis a sad, sad state of affairs, truly it is. LL We soldier on, unappreciated and severely unhappy.

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.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. I miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I 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 clients 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.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Rescheduled to 3/5/15 & Soil Boring Notes & Stop FEMA Now

Hello Sandsters –

Hope you are well and not frozen too much. God, I hate winter…:(

Just 3 brief notes for you today, dear frozen Sandsters.

Our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which was scheduled for tonight at 6 pm has been rescheduled for 2 weeks from today, to Thursday March 5th. I believe that 9 degree weather is not conducive to human health and no matter how badly you need information about rebuilding, you shouldn’t go out in those temperatures. It’s bad enough we are out working in this merde. 

Anyway, the Seminar is the same bat time, same bat channel, just on a different day. The seminar is from 6-8:45 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, at which time they are usually kicking us out. We’ll be serving light refreshments and as always we’ll have some great speakers for you.

Unfortunately, the Green Room is not available for that night, so we will be in the Hometown Dairy Room on the second floor. Give me a call at 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.

On another note, we will soon be the Ocean County builder sponsor for the Stop Fema Now organization, which is a great group trying to effect a lot of important changes in FEMA code and policy. You may have seen George Kasimos recently in the news giving grief to a bunch of blowhards at a town hall meeting…my kind of guy. Check out their website at http://www.stopfemanow.com.

FInally, a sincere entreaty to Sandsters that are trying to move things along on their design phase. Please, PLEASE stop ordering plain auger soil borings, as opposed to Split Spoon borings. 90% of the time you are wasting your money with an auger boring, because it does not show soil density and the design professional doing your foundation plans will not have enough information to do the work. 

Many of you are calling Jonas Endressen Well Drilling. Jonas has been a well driller in NJ for about 50 years and he has been doing many, many borings for people lately. While Jonas is a decent well driller, he does not do split spoon borings, and you have to pay him in cash. Sandsters are thinking they are getting a great deal at $400 bucks a boring, but it is just a waste of money. Spend the $650 or $700 and get the correct boring done. Better yet, work with a professional who will handle this entire process for you.

That’s all for today Sandsters. I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay warm.

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 11-8-14 – Where’s the Beef? (and the RREM $$) – Rebuilding Seminar Next Wednesday 11/12/14 – New Sunset Beach Model – NJ vs. NY in rebuilding

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

11-8-14

Hello Sandsters –

Happy Election Week…if you’re Republican, you’re in Fat City – wishing for major changes. If you’re a Democrat you’re not too happy – wishing for major changes.

Imagine if positive change actually happened and we had some positive movement in government instead of juvenile bickering?

Here’s to that hope for all of us. May there emerge from the scrum a group of politicians that have clarity and wisdom and our best interests at heart!

That sounds good anyway – and it’s always better for your digestion and your sanity to look at the glass half full.

Hopefully this post finds you well and moving along with your project.

We have a few interesting things for you today.

We’ll talk about the 4 main issues with RREM and give you a review and a link to an excellent article that offers a great breakdown of the RREM challenges we’re facing (translation: why we’re screwing the pooch with RREM here in New Jersey  – and how much better we’re doing than New York). We’ll remind you about our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar in Toms River to be held next Wednesday 11/12/14 at 6 pm. Finally, our new Sunset Beach model is framed in Toms River and ready to see. It is a beautiful house with a great island feel and perfect for the shore. We also mention the many wonderful heartfelt comments we’ve received from our clients.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – November 12th – Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held next Wednesday November 12, 2014 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 Scott Lepley, architect and Kathy Dotoli, an attorney in Toms River. I’ll be moderating and providing construction input. Since it’s the Library, we’ll be sneaking in cookies and those little pepperoni & cheese platters everyone loves. Please call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.

Where’s the Beef? Many people who haven’t gotten money yet for rebuilding are wondering where all the money actually is and why it hasn’t been distributed more quickly.

There’s a link below to an article in WNYC news called “Where’s the (Sandy Aid) Money?” which breaks some of the issues down fairly well.

To summarize, New Jersey says it’s the Feds’ fault, with the onerous, time-consuming (expensive, unnecessary) environmental, archeological, lead & asbestos inspections as large causes for delay. Very true.

The Feds say that New Jersey suffers from sloppy record keeping, poor choices of sub-contractors ($80 million contract to HGI for 9 months work and I think a light bulb was changed in an office somewhere, but not one dime was distributed for construction), and general lack of knowledge and preparedness to administer a grant program on this scale. Also, very true.

Everyone’s slightly right, but everyone is also a bit more wrong, and no one group explains the entire story.

In reality, we’ve only distributed $290 million of the $1.1 billion we’ve been awarded specifically for RREM, which is not where we should be. Granted there is supposedly another $110 million of work in the pipeline, but we are a far cry from where we should be in distributing RREM money.

It’s a decent short article that’s worth your review.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/wheres-money-sandy-aid/?utm_source=/story/us-sues-nyc-over-medicaid-claims-worth-millions/&utm_medium=treatment&utm_campaign=morelikethis

Continuing on that note…and because when a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, we feel a breeze in Toms River, I’m throwing out another point for consideration.

Question: To what extent do you think that the delays in permitting, plan approval and inspections are affecting the speed and ability of RREM to distribute money?

Answer: to a great extent. Delays are greatly affecting the money flow, for the simple reason that significant money is not released for a home project until permits are in place and work commences.

How much more money could we be distributing if we weren’t losing 1-2 months on each project from sheer ignorance and pigheadedness on the part of building departments? I’m going on record with a $60 – $75 million dollar figure for additional work that would already be underway, which is 20% – 25% of the funding that RREM has already released. That’s a sad little thought.

Maybe RREM and the DCA should start accepting the fact that the delays at the township level trump any increase in efficiency at the state or federal level. New Jersey and the Feds may start running at 100% efficiency, in which case the local delays would stand out, but I think that’s somewhat of a long shot.

Instead I think the delay is like a cancer or a parasite, which despite the best efforts of the host to thrive, inexorably drains small amounts of blood or in this case, kills small amounts of energy each day.

Mark my words Sandsters – at some point in this circus, this point will come up and someone will say, “Hey, we should really look at this permit/inspection delay thing. It’s clogging up the whole works here.”

Thank you to all the Sandsters that text, email and call with the kindest words for our rebuilding efforts. If I am helping 10% as much as people tell me, it is amazingly worthwhile. Thank God I am in this place at this time to help this many people. There aren’t many other pursuits in life that are more gratifying than helping people return to their homes.

House Lifting & New Home Fall schedule: We have about 8 projects starting between now and year’s end, and all but 1 have been plagued by permit and review issues. So, instead of working nicely in the brisk fall weather, we will be struggling right into the winter. Thank you Jersey Shore building departments near and far for ensuring that we will get tougher working in the dead of winter!

New Sunset Beach Model framed in Toms River: For Sandsters thinking of designing a new home, we’ve recently introduced a new model called the Sunset Beach. Stop by and take a look at it at 318 Rt. 37 East in the Pelican Island section of Toms River. (Be careful and park around the corner on a side street. Rt. 37 is very busy.) The Sunset Beach is a beautiful house with a distinct island look and feel. This model is being built at about 1800 square feet but is very versatile and can be as small as 1400 and as large as 2500 square feet. Send me an email if you want to check out the new plan. We’ll be starting the house soon on Rt. 37 West in Pelican Island so stop by and see us.

How New Jersey is faring versus New York: Though it seems like we’re moving on the wings of fleeting snails her at the Shore, we are like lightening compared to New York. To date, their implementation is 15% of ours – less than $40 million distributed, as opposed to $300 million we’ve put to work. Not that a comparison like this is much consolation to Sandsters who are still out of their homes waiting for RREM to finish some ridiculous study or other, but on a macro level and a historical basis, we are doing extremely well in comparison. Small solace indeed if you are still waiting, but it’s something.

Techniques for dealing with Jersey Shore Building Departments (partial repeat): 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.

Going every single day and asking nicely will eventually work – but so will doing absolutely nothing but waiting.

Sad (Repeat): Building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. 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.

Tip to Speed Up Your Project (repeat) – 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 – Repeat – Condensed note and reminder: If you’re not getting movement on your RREM file, look to yourself first because your PM is very interested in getting your money to you. Try and take whatever steps you can to be as ready as possible when your magic number pops up and you actually sign your grant. Having a contractor chosen and (even better) some of your design work complete gives you a real advantage when you are eager to get started.

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. Also, have your builder or a plumbing / utility contractor do the water & sewer cut and cap. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.

Good 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, whether you buy your design work from RREM or you do it yourself. 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.

(The next item got so many comments in the last blog that I am including it again for amusement and reflection).

Warning – Do Not Try This At Home: DO NOT try and general contract your own home elevation project 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 Action – I’ve been strapping on my Go Pro, filming the chaos that is a house lift and have uploaded a couple of videos. Stay tuned for more laughs and (hopefully) greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.

This coming week we’ll be doing a lift and moving a house, which will be extremely interesting to see if you haven’t ever seen that process. We use Ivory Soap….and 100 ton rollers…:)

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.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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After the lift – Foundation in place – Brick – 9-26-14

Hi Sandsters –

In an exuberance of creative marketing effort for a Sunday (not normal for me, believe me) I am posting another video of a home after the lift, prior to lowering on a new foundation.

Again, these videos are for times when you have nothing better to do than listen to me babble about construction.

Rely on the written blog for details, but watch the videos for color and amusement.

Click here to view the video.

Take care.

Vince


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Video – Preparing a house for Lift – 9-26-14

Hello Sandsters –

Hope you are well and enjoying your Sunday.

I will be posting a series of short videos that demonstrate various aspects of home elevation and construction. Comments and input are appreciated.

Note: I am not Francis Ford Coppola…this content is not edited…:)

Enjoy. Click the link below to view the video.

Preparing a house for elevation – 9-26-14 

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder &

Home Improvement Contractor

PO Box 627

Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 10-25-14 New NJ Elevation Law & Seminar – Date Change – Now Wednesday 11/12/13 at 6 pm

Home elevation requirement – New Law – 10-1-14

Hello Sandsters –

Hope you are well and enjoying your weekend.

Believe it or not, this might just be the First Short Rebuilding Blog…:) Today, we’ll just talk about seminar date changes and touch on the new Home Elevation Law in NJ. And that’s all, folks…:)

Just a short note today about a change of date for our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar. It is now been moved up one day to Wednesday, 11/12/14 at 6 pm from the date I previously announced, which was Thursday 11/13/14.

For those of you who have responded already, I will be sending you an email with an update. Anyone else who would like to attend, please note the date has changed.

So the next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar  will now be held on Wednesday November 12th at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library in the fantastic Green Room. We’ll start at 6 and keep answering questions until they kick us out. We’ll be hosting Evan Hill, engineer, Scott Lepley, architect and Kathy Dotoli, an attorney in Toms River. I’ll be moderating and providing construction input and amusement. As always, we’ll be serving light refreshments since everyone’s hungry by 6:30. Please call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.

On another note, on October 1, NJ passed a law requiring any contractor elevating houses in NJ to have a separate license. This is a fantastic thing for consumers in NJ and something I wholeheartedly agree with. Our preferred elevation contractor, Baumgardner House Lifting, was the first company in NJ to apply for the new license.

In typical NJ fashion, none of the new licenses have been issued pending document review, but thankfully there are provisions in the law that allow contracted work to proceed while NJ is sharpening their pencils and getting their file folders in order.

I posted a link above to a flier that we received  which outlines some of the new requirements if you would like to review it further. You can also go to http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/HIC for more information.

Enjoy the weekend Sandsters.

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder & Home Improvement Contractor

PO Box 627

Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


Leave a comment

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 10-21-14 – RREM News – Update World Record House Lifting – Rebuilding Seminar 11/13/14 – Worst Townships for Delays in Permitting & Inspections – RREM Path B Updates – Cost/benefit analysis for your project

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

10-22-14

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.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

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