Building & Restoring Dreams in NJ for 20 Years…RREM Rebuilding Specialists

Helping Homeowners Build, Remodel & Restore their Homes After Storm Sandy privately & RREM, HMGP & other Programs


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Dream Homes Ltd / Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – RREM Path B windfall, AC Builder’s show, Foundation systems and estimating, Scheduling your Rehabilitation or Reconstruction Project

Dream Homes Ltd. Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

4-6 -14

Hello Sandsters and I hope this post finds everyone doing well -

Well the sun is shining and we’re finally into spring, which is good news. I’ve been remiss in my blog scribbles for no good reason other than trying to fit 120 hours of work into a 75 hour work week. If you’ve ever read either of Tim Ferris’ books (The 4-hour Workweek & The 4-hour body…www.fourhourworkweek.com) you know I’m not quite achieving either of the goals in those excellent books.

Anyway, there’s a ton of things to talk about today, with the Atlantic City Builder’s show, recent changes to RREM Path B and some comments on time frames, estimates & accuracy. We’ll remind you about the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar schedule for April and May and encourage you to sign up if you want to attend.

We’ll pass along a general warning about some thoughts about dealing with real estate brokers and introduce some thoughts about building capacity you should discuss with your builder.

Construction tip for the day: When you temporarily backfill the hole for your disconnected water/sewer connection, you should remember to mark each prominently (we use a 2×4 painted orange for each connection so we can find it at the end). More importantly – it is important to protect the water meter box from being run over by the machines that are moving on the site. This is a particular challenge with a house that has a small front yard. After the backfill is complete, cover the hole with 2 x8 or 2 x 10 and lay plywood over it, so if it is accidently run over, it will not be crushed.

The Atlantic City Builder’s show was March 25th – 27th and for the first time in a number of years, there was definitely some excitement. The show has been steadily shrinking since 2009 and there were a few years where simply going caused me severe depression. Last year there was general confusion since Sandy had just happened 4 months prior, but this year there were more vendors, more seminars and classes and general a higher buzz than in the last few years.

Oddly though, there was not as much focus on Sandy rebuilding as one would think. There were enough engineers and attorneys to fill a small stadium and there were house lifters and lumber suppliers, but not as many businesses were as focused on Sandy & RREM rebuilding work as there should be. This is because the real estate market in general is starting to pick up and most builders typically go straight to new home construction when given the chance.

However, as builders we need to place more focus on the actual process of elevating & rehabilitating in order to complete a greater number of projects throughout the shore in a shorter period of time. Though the RREM pace has been picking up (the first rehabilitation project under Path C actually started about 3 weeks ago – I swear), and the time to take each project from initial discussion through the design stage has been shrinking, we still need more people in the field doing this type of work.

Every single builder I spoke with at the show said it was too much trouble doing home elevations when there is plenty of work in new home construction. That is not good at all. I told each builder that they should add this type of construction to their business models, but I stopped after a dozen people said it was too much work and they weren’t going to bother. Sad, foolish and shortsighted.

New home builders should seriously consider learning and doing RREM elevation work – they are sorely needed in the effort.

RREM happenings – A bunch of Path B Sandsters clients have gotten large checks in the mail from the program and this has caused a lot of excitement and forward movement. All of a sudden many Sandsters are realizing the only thing stopping them from rebuilding their house is themselves.

As you should know by now, about 10 days ago the DCA announced a change to the RREM program giving Path B homeowners the right to request up to 50% of their grant amount in an initial up front payment prior to work being started. The press release is at this link… http://www.state.nj.us/dca/news/news/2014/20140312.html

You should have gotten a letter from RREM, but the summary is you can now get up to 50% of your grant in order to start design work and tender deposits to your builder. You then request the balance of your grant in up to 2 additional draw requests. I wrote in more detail about this in the last blog.

As I said – we give credit where credit is due and always try for fairness in our analysis – this is a GREAT positive change in the RREM program.

So Sandsters, find yourself a good builder, get a contract together and present it to RREM with your request for a 50% deposit. Starting your rehabilitation project now will have you finished by July, with your reconstruction project probably taking a bit longer. 

Helpful Comment about real estate brokers –: If you sign a listing with a broker and wind up accepting a price for your home that is less than the listing price you are not committed to the original commission percentage!  If you list for $350,000 and you are offered $275,000, your broker should take less for their commission, just as you are taking less for your house. Period. You are contractually obligated to pay a fixed amount only if you get a full price offer.Otherwise, everything is negotiable.Commissions paid to realtors or brokers are not ordained by God – they are negotiable. If you speak to your broker and he acts like the commission is a set figure, he is lying. If you take less in your asking price, so should he or she for their commission. Remember – you are the principal in the transaction, not the broker. Also, sign a 3 month listing, as opposed to 6 months or longer.   Please call or email me with questions and concerns about this issue. I hate to see Sandsters being taken advantage of and it is happening on a regular basis up and down the shore.

RREM – Contingency fund Comment, Path C & Switching Paths (repeat): When you sit with your program manager to sign your grant documents, you’ll most probably be asked to contribute funds towards the contingency fund for your project. That may not be possible for you. You may need to choose Path B and modify your project to bring it in line with your budget.

Remember – you can switch from Path C (RREM manages the project) to Path B (you manage your contractor and project), but once you switch, you cannot switch back to C. For this reason more than any other, work with a builder who knows what they don’t know, and tells you that. If anyone tells you they are 100% certain what type of foundation you will need without a soil boring and/or geotechnical analysis, they are lying or misinformed. The reason the RREM program won’t commit to picking a foundation system before the design stage is completed is because no one knows for certain what you need prior to that study being done.  It is reasonable to have several options for a foundation system presented in an initial estimate (I use my experience and give my best evaluation when I see each home, and am right about 80% of the time)…but the final foundation design and cost will be determined by your soil boring.

Path A: As of this writing, this Path is an ephemeral unproven fantasy where you are hoping to be reimbursed from RREM based on their evaluation of your costs. Don’t hold your breath Sandsters and please send me a comment if you have successfully gotten reimbursed under Path A.

Onward and upward…it is much more efficient for you to be nice to your contractors and professional team than not. You get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar – being generally nice to your professional team will avail you inestimably greater benefits than being harsh, nasty or impatient. It’s much better for your digestion as well.

So, be nice in general and get better response and people who care about your project. Simple.

Repeat: As a general note, the more accurately you define the scope of work for your project and the more you know (or at least think you know) what you want to do, the more likely you are to choose RREM Path B, or give up the RREM grant entirely and build privately. Generally you will also stress less.  

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Schedule: Our next seminar is at the Egg Harbor township branch of the Atlantic County Library on April 24th from 5-8. We’ll host Andrew Baumgardner from Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. We will also have Steve Brasslett from Ivy First Hope Bank with some interesting financing ideas for you. We’ve had real success and great response bringing a professional team to our seminars and all the Sandsters who’ve attended have had very positive comments.

Sandsters from AC, Brigantine, Margate, Ventnor and Egg Harbor Township have been asking for a while for a seminar in Atlantic County, and should plan on attending if possible. In May we’ll be in Shrewsbury in Monmouth County. Give me a call or an email if you would like to attend either one.

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 will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction.

Reminder – Sad but true fact: In the majority of cases the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage, so get started on that phase, so you are ready to start construction when you want to.

Reminder: 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 primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a new home builder and general contractor who actively does renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. We actually are doing all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B and C in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Ltd./ Atlantic Northeast Rebuilding Blog – 3-23-14 – Speed up your Permits – Great RREM Change! – Notes from the Dark Side of the RREM Moon – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Schedule

Dream Homes Ltd. Rebuilding Blog – 3-23-14

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Speeding up disconnects & the permit process – RREM Changes to Path B – Construction tip – Quote from Winston Churchill – Dark Side of the RREM Moon – Seminar schedule – Scope of Work notes

Hello Sandsters and Happy Spring!

The good news is that spring is finally here…we hit 66 yesterday and the sun even peaked out. It’s so much more pleasant working outside in nicer weather.

Today we talk about some great ideas for speeding up your project (thanks Margaret!), some great changes to the RREM program that will help Path B Sandsters get started more quickly and give you the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar schedule for April and May. As always, we dig up a little dirt and talk about the darker sides of the RREM experience.

Construction tip for the day: When you are adding fill to your crawlspace to bring it up to grade (remember – the FEMA codes require that the new flood vents be within 12” of both inside and outside grade) make sure that you prominently mark the sewer pipe location so you can reconnect the plumbing without digging up half the front of the crawlspace and/or half the front yard. No matter how careful you are, it is very easy to bury your sewer connection while you’re moving loads of new dirt in the crawl and this will cost you time and resources to uncover.

A sincere thank you to Super Helpful Sandster Margaret Quinn of Toms River, who taught me a new idea when I met with her last week, for speeding up your permit process. Currently the way demolition / elevation permits work in most townships is that all utility disconnect letters have to be submitted with the permit application in order for it to be accepted. This meant that Sandsters were calling for disconnects and out of their house for 2-3 weeks longer than necessary, before even submitting a permit. This has been a bone of contention with me since Sandy but all I ever did was complain and relegate myself to the fact that it was another misguided, time sucking policy in NJ that I had to deal with.

Not Margaret. She appeared before the town council in Toms River and actually had the policy amended. Really. Now in Toms River, you can submit a full permit package for review prior to submitting utility disconnection letters and your plans will be reviewed. It is not until you go to pick up your permit that you will need the letters, in order for the township to actually issue you the permit.

Outstanding process improvement Margaret and Thanks from all the Sandsters! If we saved 3 weeks x 35,000 rebuilding projects, that is a total of 105,000 weeks of unneeded delay in rebuilding. In each case, Sandsters are back in the house 3 weeks sooner, the township has a functioning property paying full taxes 3 weeks sooner, and another NJ resident is out busily stimulating the economy while living comfortably once again.

As a note, Margaret was one of the most organized people I have ever encountered and had 2 full RREM notebooks chronicling the program details and the never ending changes to policy since the program started. I was experiencing serious paper envy when I saw those notebooks and I immediately offered her a position as a consultant with Dream Homes. I think she may be pondering that offer ….:)

I am trying this technique in a number of other towns and will keep you posted as to which towns are receptive and which are firmly ensconced in the Dark Ages.

Positive saying for the day: From my man Winston Churchill, who is eminently quotable and performed above par during a very difficult time in history, “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”

That’s a perfect Storm Sandy Rebuilding Mantra. Some people are actively pursuing their project and working on what they can while others are lamenting over the shortcomings of RREM, insurance companies, and their lives in general and focusing on all the reasons why it is better to complain & wait. Be in the first group. Get up, grab your sword and go out and face the world swinging.

On to RREM happenings – Some Great News for Path B Sandsters!

About 10 days ago, the DCA announced a change to the RREM program giving Path B homeowners the right to request up to 50% of their grant amount in an initial up front payment prior to work being started. The press release is at this link… http://www.state.nj.us/dca/news/news/2014/20140312.html

You may be getting a letter from RREM, but the summary is you can now get up to 50% of your grant in order to start design work and tender deposits to your builder. You can then request the balance of your grant in up to 2 additional draw requests.

This is a great change to the program and will help kick start a number of projects, especially if the homeowner has a very constrained budget and is limited to working with the RREM alone. Assuming you get the full $150,000 RREM grant, you can get $75,000 to get started, which will take you significantly into your project. You can do design, engineering & architectural, permitting, demolition if needed, foundation construction and make some meaningful progress towards starting elevation/rehabilitation or new construction.

Credit where credit is due – another positive change to RREM.

Negative RREM thought #1– the duplication of benefits exclusion is still being described and explained incorrectly by many people. If you are getting a full RREM grant of $150,000, and applying for ICC (increased cost of compliance benefits) of $30,000 and your project costs $200,000, there is no duplication of benefits. If it costs $160,000 and you get the $30,000 from ICC, you will have to return $20,000 to RREM (or alternatively take only $10,000 from ICC). Often the fine folks at RREM do not clearly explain this distinction.

Negative RREM thought #2 – Another misnomer and unclear distinction between Path B & C: While it is true that the Program will pay for design fees, overages and changes in Path C, what is not clearly stated is that you will have to come up with money for a 15% contingency fund ahead of time that is placed in escrow.

It’s almost like they’re saying to you, “Don’t worry, there won’t be any overages since we’re on top of this, but if there are, we have your contingency fund to draw against”.

I’m sorry – can you run that by me again? Is that the Bugs Bunny School of Estimating? I must have missed that class.

Next time I give a $150,000 estimate, I am going to request that my client put $22,500 in escrow in case I screw up, make a mistake or things don’t go strictly according to Hoyl. Sure – sounds like a sound idea. I’ll let you know just how that works out but I’m not hopeful. If someone said that to me (many contractors attempt to price like that) I would laugh and throw them out of the office.

Scope of Work Notes – Part II: In the last blog, we said that the more accurately you define the scope of work for your project and the more you know (or at least think you know) what you want to do, the more likely you are to choose RREM Path B, or give up the RREM grant entirely and build privately.As a modifier to that statement, you don’t have to know everything about the entire scope of work before you start anything. Many items evolve over time, either because you see things in the field or realize things you may have forgotten that you would really like to add.

There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a normal progression of events and 99% of the time your builder will treat you the same way he did when you originally signed the contract. If he or she was fair originally, they will be fair with changes. If your pricing was expensive at the outset, expect the same (or more expensive) pricing for change orders.

The point is you don’t need to wait until you have everything perfect in order to get started. If you do that you might never begin.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Schedule: Our next seminar is at the Egg Harbor township branch of the Atlantic County Library on April 24th from 5-8. We’ll host Andrew Baumgardner from Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. We will also have Steve Brasslett from Ivy First Hope Bank with some interesting financing ideas for you. We’ve had real success and great response bringing a professional team to our seminars and all the Sandsters who’ve attended have had really positive comments. I think I’m going to start making t-shirts…:)

Sandsters from AC, Brigantine, Margate, Ventnor and Egg Harbor Township have been asking for a while for a seminar in Atlantic County, and should plan on attending if possible. In May we’ll be in Shrewsbury in Monmouth County. Give me a call or an email if you would like to attend either one.

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 will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction.

Repeat: Again my congratulations to Sandsters who’ve gotten started! The greatest joy in life is to begin and you have done that. Any forward movement is excellent and if no one else is saying it to you, I will. Good for you for starting – you should be proud of yourself!

Repeat – Repeat: Question: “What should I do next to get started?”

Answer: Start work on your design stage. Survey, soil boring, foundation & architectural design, builder or contractor estimate. Whether you hire a Conductor (Builder) to guide your orchestra through the show, or do it yourself, or a combination of both, the time to act is now.

Either pick up the phone, call me and say “Let’s go!” and I will put everything in motion or start making calls yourself.

This bears repeating – unfortunate but true fact: In the majority of cases (90+ %), the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

Reminder: 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.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. Yes we actually do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few items I wanted to cover, but I’m giving myself the hook and my Sandsters a break…J

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – RREM Workshops this SATURDAY, 3/15/14

Hello Sandsters - 

Hope you are well and not frozen from today’s lovely weather. Spring is coming soon…I promise. 

I just have a short note today about the Sandy RREM workshops being held in several places in the state on Saturday. By the way, this post also proves that I am able to write a blog of less than 4 pages in length. 

Here is a link from NJ News…if the link doesn’t work, copy it and paste it into a browser. 

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/03/nj_to_hold_sandy_housing_workshops_on_rebuilding_grant_program.html

The workshops are being held from 12-5 pm on Saturday at all 9 of the Sandy recovery centers. 

If you are feeling particularly depressed and morose and have nothing better to do with yourself, you might want to attend. I have no opinion about whether it will be fruitful, but another 5 hours out of your life at this point trying to figure out RREM, might help a little. 

Not that I generally advocate drinking during the day, but a bloody mary or 2 would help before you go…:):) 

These workshops are only for those who have been selected for a RREM grant, not for anyone on a waiting list. 

Hope this helps. Any questions, please call, email or text. 

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

 

 

 

 

 


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Dream Homes / Atlantic Northeast Construction – Rebuilding Blog – 3-9-14 – Notes from the Rebuilding seminar, Getting Started II, RREM foundation systems, Rich Pezzullo for state senate, RREM program progress.

Dream Homes Ltd. Rebuilding Blog –

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

3 – 8 -14

 

Rebuilding Seminar reviews and comments from 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started II – RREM Status & Update – Rich Pezzullo – Campaign for NJ Senator

Foundation notes & finishes –

 

Hello Sandsters –

The good news is that spring is finally coming…we hit 60 yesterday and it was sunny. It’s so much more pleasant working outside in nicer weather.

Today we touch on the Rebuilding seminar, speak more about getting started and RREM foundation systems, endorse a state senate candidate, and talk about RREM program progress.

That’s a lot of info for 3 pages of copy, but I will do my best.

Like a splash of cold water, let’s start with RREM. It’ll help you get motivated for the day. Remember, if you didn’t set your clocks ahead already, you should do that. Although if you haven’t by the time you’re reading this you must be doing something much more interesting. You should probably keep doing that…the clocks can wait.

An unnamed contributor described the RREM Path C process to me recently as “slowly crawling out of a fetal position and getting off the floor”. That about sums it up, and I should just stop there and talk about foundation systems, but of course I just can’t quite do that.

We are hearing rumblings about a few people actually being through their design stage and filing for permits and we’re in that stage on a few projects ourselves. The largest delaying issue is the number of people who need to bless each piece of paper under Path C, which is something you don’t have with private or Path B projects. CBI & Gilbane (the 2 surviving RREM program managers) are doing their best to move the process along, but there is only so much they can do since they are both administrators and victims of the RREM / DCA / HUD system.

The RREM rules remind me of the US tax code – an equal amount of time is spent describing exceptions to the rules as following them. Forget about actually understanding them all.

The whole process is just too unnecessarily complicated for the average human. It doesn’t have to be that way at all and in private and Path B work, it’s not.

Another recurring item is pricing. It would simplify matters if there were posted pricing benchmarks for the various aspects of RREM work, with distinctions made between private, Path B & Path C work. Why it is such a (open) secret that pricing is necessarily different between the different categories of work is beyond me. No one reading this blog is unable to understand simple explanations and there is no complex calculus going on here.

If you do work privately (meaning non-RREM, or working on an HMGP or ICC grant), your project costs and level of confusion and complexity will generally be the lowest. This is followed immediately by Path B work which is generally slightly more expensive, but not materially.

Path C is the most expensive & cumbersome pricing structure and process, but you have the comfort of knowing that if the project goes over budget, or encounters unforeseen conditions, the program will pay for it.

Why the pricing differences and realities in the current market are not being acknowledged by the RREM Path C program is a source of disbelief and confusion to everyone I know. One cannot rationally think (although this is what the RREM program expects) that the pricing to complete 100+ assignments a year for 10 years, on time, to very expensive, exacting, demanding standards would be the same as contracting with a small builder or contractor who is doing 4-5 homes a year. It is not, nor will it ever be. Nor will general operating costs ever be less in NJ than in 95% of all other locations.

If you want to stay at the Waldorf Astoria in NY on Central Park south and go top drawer all the way, you’re paying for it. If you stay at the Pod or the Metro hotel off lower Broadway, there might be a little more grit, but it’s going to cost a hell of a lot less. (It’s may be more fun too.) Either way you’re still sleeping and showering in a hotel room and if everything works, it’s a satisfactory experience.

As a general note, the more accurately you define the scope of work for your project and the more you know (or at least think you know) what you want to do, the more likely you are to choose RREM Path B, or give up the RREM grant entirely and build privately. Generally you will also stress less. 

If you have an unknown soil or foundation condition, don’t want to do some preliminary analysis of your own, or don’t have the financial resources you might need, you might want to suffer through Path C. It takes longer and costs more (it doesn’t necessarily cost you more, but costs are always significantly higher) but you are afforded the certain piece of mind that comes with having a whole bunch of people constantly inspecting, considering and evaluating your project.

Each house is different. Each project is different. Each Sandster is different. It’s not correct to say that any particular path is right for everyone – it’s not. That’s why Baskin Robbins has a whole passel of flavors to pick from and the cereal aisle has 248 choices. That’s probably also why RREM arrived at Path B or C – that is what the market demanded.

Seminar Comments & Review – our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar on February 27th at the Toms River branch of the OC Library was fantastic and the best one yet. We hosted Andrew Baumgardner & Rod Scott from Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. The concept of a professional team presenting in that atmosphere really worked for all the Sandsters who came. Everyone who attended moved their specific project along and had really positive comments in general. The seminar was very informative but the time after the presentation was even better – lots of questions and interaction with all the professionals. The seminar ended about 8 or so and security was booting a bunch of us out at 9:20 pm.

We shot a video of the seminar also, which we will be posting on the blog, hopefully tomorrow.

We’re a bit behind the curve on that item. With the next one I may try to do a live webcast. Good luck with that Vince.

As far as seminar scheduling, I’m going to try and do one a month from now on and the next one is scheduled in Egg Harbor Township on April 24th. Sandsters from AC, Brigantine, Margate, Ventnor and Egg Harbor Township have been asking me for a while to do a seminar in Atlantic County, and here it is! In May we’ll be in Shrewsbury so the Monmouth folks can attend. Send me an email if you would like to attend either one.

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 will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction.

What’s good for any one of us, is good for the entire community. You cast your bread upon the waters and hope for really excellent sandwiches to come back. If we assist each other whenever and however we can, there is a multiplier effect – NJ comes back more quickly, and better than ever. I believe that. Take a half hour and read “How Full is Your Bucket?”

Now a plug for my business associate and friend of 20 years Rich Pezzullo, who is campaigning in the US senate race. Rich is on the ballot and is currently working very hard to get his message out to everyone in NJ, and ultimately to obtain the endorsement of the NJ Republican party. Rich is a conservative Republican candidate with great ideas and I urge all Sandsters reading this blog to check out his website at www.pezzulloforsenate.com. Rich supports less government, more clarity and fiscal sanity (a man after my own heart) and deserves your consideration. If he wins the primary, he will be challenging Cory Booker in the fall and he needs your support. You can learn more about Rich’s views, sign up to help his campaign or make a contribution on his website at www.pezzulloforsenate.com.

Reminder – Wise words for Smart Sandsters: Call for your New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) reconnections when you pick up your permit or when you start your lift. They’ve been running 4 – 6 weeks. If you’re really running late, you can always call and push the date back.

My thoughts in the last blog about getting started really resonated with a lot of people and I received a number of comments and questions.

First I have to say, Sandsters, if you’ve pulled the trigger on your project, congratulations! The greatest joy in life is to begin and you have. Taking control of your project and the process is so important and more and more people are doing just that. I’m hearing from people ordering soil borings and analysis, starting or finalizing discussions with an architect or builder and generally nudging things along in positive directions.

Any forward movement is excellent and if no one else is saying it to you, I will. Good for you for starting – you should be proud of yourself!

Repeat: “What should I do next to get started?” 

Start work on your design stage. Survey, soil boring, foundation & architectural design, builder or contractor estimate.

Whether you hire a Conductor (Builder) to guide your orchestra through the show, or do it yourself, or a combination of both, the time to act is now.

Either pick up the phone, call me and say “Let’s go!” and I will put everything in motion or call Evan for a boring and soil analysis, Scott to start working on a plan, Kathy to file an appeal, or Andrew to talk about the actual lift. Do something.

This bears repeating – unfortunate but true fact: In the majority of cases (90+ %), the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

RREM – Standard foundation systems: We spoke about foundation systems in the last blog and I wanted to clarify some items. If you are in RREM, and you are doing a reconstruction (demo and new construction), the program standard is timber pilings straight up to a girder system under the house. There is nothing surrounding the foundation, unless you pay for it separately. You can install lattice, build breakaway walls, or even block up a foundation between the pilings but none of those finishes come standard.

If you are doing a Rehabilitation (lifting your house in place, and building a new foundation) you will either have your old foundation demolished down to the footings or (in a few cases) be able to build directly on your existing block foundation. That depends on your soil, and the age and condition of your foundation.

Repeat: When you are elevating an existing house, the least expensive method is to build on top of the existing foundation structure with concrete block. The primary concern with this method is the weight bearing capacity of the existing soil under the old foundation – it may not be strong enough to support the weight of the additional block.

This is why it’s critical at the beginning of the design stage to get a soil boring and analysis to definitively determine the best, most cost effective foundation system for your home.

Reminder: 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.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. Yes we actually do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 27 -14 – Rebuilding Seminar Tonight 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River – Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – Foundation systems

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 27 -14

 Rebuilding Seminar Tonight 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – Foundation systems

Hello Sandsters –

Reminder – our (nearly famous) Rebuilding Seminar is tonight from 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington Street in Toms River. There are 8 seats open, and we’re in the Green Room. We’re hosting Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. Refreshments will be served. Call / text me at 732 300 5619 or email me if you want to attend. Bring your surveys, flood elevation certs and other documents for discussion and review.

Remember: New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) is running 4 – 6 weeks for reconnections, so call in your orders now for Thanksgiving…I’m kidding, but not too much. I now call for gas reconnections when I pick up the permit to start the job. It’s usually between 3 weeks and a month until I’m resetting a house on the new foundation and NJNG is running 4-6 weeks for reconnects. If you’re really running late, you can always call and push the date back.

Repeat: “What should I do next to get started?” 

It’s a very common question with a simple and fairly straightforward answer.

Start work on your design stage.

This bears repeating – unfortunate but true fact: In the majority of cases (90+ %), the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

So what does this mean?

Everyone needs a survey, soil boring, foundation & architectural design and preliminary estimate based on a scope of work. So get started.

I suggest you get started on design with your builder, attorney, architect, engineer or other professional but you can certainly do this on your own. It will cost about the same (really) but your professional will generally be able to get the work done more quickly.

Builders aren’t actively interested in making money from engineering, surveying and architectural costs, but are very interested in moving the process along so they can get started actually elevating your house.

Reminder: You can still comment regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant. You can submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us if you have thoughts or opinions you wish to share.

Refresher – Construction Technique: There are several basic foundation systems that can be used when you elevate your house. In order of cost (least to highest) for new construction, the methods are wood pilings straight up to a girder system under the house, a concrete footing with concrete block up to the underside of the floor, wood pilings up to a concrete grade beam with concrete piers or block up to the floor and finally helical pilings up to a concrete grade beam with concrete piers or a continuous foundation wall.

With an elevation of an existing house, the least expensive method in an AE zone by far is to build on top of the existing foundation structure with concrete block. The primary concern with this method is the weight bearing capacity of the existing soil under the old foundation – it may not be strong enough to support the weight of the additional block.

This point brings us back to the critical need at the beginning of the design stage for a soil boring and geotechnical analysis to definitively determine the best, most cost effective foundation system.

If the soil is not strong enough to support the new foundation, we are stuck with A) moving the house to install timber piles or B) installing helical piles, which are 3 times as costly as timber piles.

More on this subject and some other considerations with different foundation systems at the seminar and in future blogs.

Reminder: if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. People ask me so often if we actually do this work that I am mentioning it in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project. 

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder


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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 22 -14 – Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday 2/27/13 OC Library in Toms River – Getting Started on Your Design Stage – Building Tips

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 22 -14

DCA Public Hearings – Building Notes & Tips –

Upcoming Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – URS released as PM

Hello Sandsters –

Hopefully you’re enjoying the decent weather we’re having today and all is going well with you. Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice also, so you should try and get outside and do something. Next week we’re right back into windy, cold, uncivilized weather in the mid 20’s and 30’s. There are only 26 days until Spring, so stay optomistic.

If I only had a scribe running around after me, I would write so much more, but oddly I’ve had no takers for that position. There’s so much to write and so little time.

First a reminder about our (nearly famous) Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday night: It’s February 27th, from 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington Street. We’ll be in the Green Room, and seating is limited to 30 people. As of now I have about 15-20 people confirmed so if you would like to come, please give me a call so we don’t run out of chairs (or cookies…)  We’ll be hosting Baumgardner House Lifting, who does a great house lift presentation, along with Scott Lepley, architect Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. and Evan Hill from Dewberry  Engineering (last blog I stupidly wrote Doonebury, which is incorrect). I will be moderating and answering general construction questions. As always, it should be a great session and refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. As always, bring your surveys, flood elevation certs and other documents and there will be time for questions and case review afterwards.

Important Rebuilding Tip: New Jersey Natural Gas is running about a year for reconnections, so call in your orders now (Hello Chuck from NJNG, who took one order from me in early December and we’re still waiting…) Ok, I might be exaggerating, but not by too much. I am now calling for gas reconnections when I pick up the permit to start the job. It’s usually between 3 weeks and a month until we are resetting the house on the new foundation and NJNG is running 4-6 weeks for reconnects. I have been sucking my thumb on too many jobs which are completely finished and waiting for gas. You can always call them and put the date back if you running late – but it is a beast to get them to rush an installation or reconnect. You have to be someone really important to do that, and I am not in that exalted category.

Ok, let’s get to some stuff.

Samuel Clemons wrote, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” I think he was actually writing for a Sandster survivor’s group. It’s ridiculously easy to lose one’s sense of humor, but injecting some levity into the rebuilding process makes the pill easier to swallow.

URS RREM Contract cancelled: Any one in the RREM program who was working with URS as their program manager undoubtedly got the news that URS has been yanked by the neck out of the program. Good riddance, kind sirs. In my experience, URS was the least efficient and productive of the 3 program managers.

Depending on where your house was in the process will determine how quickly your file is transferred to Gilbane or CBI/Shaw. If you’re Path B, this won’t really affect you but if you’re Path C, it might cause a delay. In any case, the loss of one of the PM’s won’t necessarily change much in the RREM program and you should keep grinding along in your path.

Ironically, having 2 program managers instead of 3 might streamline things a bit. In the last two weeks, the 2 remaining survivors in RREM War 2.0 have come up with standardized scopes of work for elevation which will definitely help speed the process in Path C.

If you look at #3 in my last blog about testimony at the DCA hearing, I spoke about this. The transparency of all information that many are crying out for would be wonderful but waiting for it is probably tilting at windmills. What we can achieve immediately is standardization in pricing and estimating methods. That goal, which we are constantly moving towards, will do more to speed things up than any other single item.

Meanwhile, in general, Sandsters everywhere are suffering delays getting their projects started, both privately and with Path B & C in RREM. This is caused by many factors, some of which are simply endemic to the construction process in NJ, and some of which are artificially created. Which leads me to my next point and The Single Most Common Question, which is…

“What should I do next to get started?”  The answer is simple and fairly straightforward and still eluding many Sandsters.

It’s this – just start something pertaining to your design stage.

Someone once wrote “The simplest joy in the world is to begin.” There is no situation where this is more true than with rebuilding your own home.

If you are rebuilding privately, call us (or find another good builder), put together a scope of work and a contract and start on your design stage.

If you are RREM Path B, call us (or find another good builder), put together a scope of work and a contract and start on your design stage.

If you are RREM Path C, call your FEMA case worker and persist until you are assigned a builder, make an appointment for a site visit as soon as possible and insist on concrete dates for the next action each time you speak, meet, write or interact. Be really persistent. Pray a lot for patience and good nature.

Sad but true fact: In all cases, the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

So what does this mean? It means that in most circumstances, it behooves you to inch the process along, while you are still working on funding issues, design stage items and temporary housing. Everyone needs a survey and soil boring, everyone needs a foundation & architectural design and everyone needs a preliminary estimate and scope of work. So get started on yours.

You can do this with your builder, or on your own. Generally you will pay about the same but your builder or contractor may be able to get the work done more quickly (we can.)  Also, it is quite common for design stage costs to be pass-through costs without profit added, where your builder or GC will handle ordering and evaluating the work and simply bill you. Most good builders are not interested in making money from engineering, surveying and architectural professional costs, but are very interested in having control of the process so it moves along.

So get started now if you want to be in your house by mid summer. In any case it’s more interesting to move forward (even if you might make mistakes), than it is to stand on the tracks waiting for the next train to run you over. There’s plenty of time to wait when we’re in heaven.

As you may remember, the DCA held 3 hearings regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant. You can still submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us if you have thoughts or opinions you wish to share.

Though there were many angry, disgruntled, unhappy people in attendance at all 3 hearings, hopefully some of the input from both the public and professionals will be heeded. (Also, maybe the Sierra Club will move Jeff Tittle to the coal sands in Alberta, Canada and he can stop wasting everyone’s time here in NJ talking about esoteric, unknowable, unproveable inflammatory nonsense).

Anyway, my comments and testimony before the DCA are included in the last blog if you want to review them in total, but I had 4 points, one of which I already mentioned above.

The other 3 points are as follows:

1. Fund allocation for the new $1.463 billion HUD grant should be heavily weighted to RREM, HMGP and other similar DCA programs.

2. The RREM program would be vastly improved with an accurate, reasonable, geographically appropriate pricing structure.

3. Finally, Path B & Path C homeowners should not be treated differently as far as design costs costs are concerned and both Paths should be paid by the RREM program in addition to the grant amounts. 

I’ve written too much again (big shock I know). In the next blog, we’ll talk about appealing your grant decision, different foundation systems, your 5A Grant Award meeting and some interesting facts about the number of people affected by Sandy that you may not know.

Reminder that if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. People ask me so often if we actually do this work that I am mentioning it in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.  

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well and hang in there Sandsters. Better weather and better times are coming.

Regards,

 

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dream Homes Ltd.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

 

 


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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2-11-14 – Comments & Observations from the DCA Public Hearing about Allocating Funds under the new $1.463 Billion HUD Grant

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2-11-14

Comments & Observations from the DCA Public Hearing about Allocating Funds under the new $1.463 Billion HUD Grant

Building Notes & Weather Delays & Seminar Schedule for February

 

Hello Sandsters –

I hope all is going well with you and you are enjoying the winter. Personally I hate it and feel if we never saw another snowflake in NJ, that would be a wonderful thing. Only 36 days until Spring!! Yay!

Before we get started, a sincere congratulations to a dear friend and colleague, Kathy Dotoli, who just opened her own law practice in Toms River. Kathy is one of the top worker’s compensation and social security disability attorneys in NJ and can be contacted at 732 221 5640 if you are in need of those or other legal services. We wish her the absolute best of luck in her new venture! Great job Kathy! We’ll see you at the seminar on 2/27/14 in Toms River.

Upcoming Seminar:  Join us for our (nearly famous?) Rebuilding / RREM Seminar on February 27th, from 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington Street. We will be in the Green Room, which is a great space, but seating is limited to 30 people. Please respond if you would like to come. We will be hosting Baumgardner House Lifting as one of our speakers, along with Scott Lepley, architect Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. and Evan Hill from Doonesbury Engineering. It should be a great session and refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. As always, there will be time for questions and case review afterwards.

Ok, let’s get into the muck a little, Sandsters…J Unless you’ve been on vacation in the Out Islands of the Bahamas (don’t tell me because I will definitely throw a snowball at you), you’ve seen much news lately about RREM, HUD, lawsuits, studies, complaints, lack of transparency and slow progress. It’s become a flood and much of it is being exacerbated by the tribulations our fair governor is currently enduring…we have BridgeGate, the bullying of mayors in Hoboken, Bayonne and Jersey City, the questions about the recently fired HGI (who was supposedly administering the RREM program for the DCA, but no one is actually clear what they were doing) and finally delays with the implementation of RREM.

Which leads me to the DCA Hearing tonight, which I attended tonight at Stockton and where I claimed my 3 minutes in front of the microphone.

As you may have heard, the DCA is holding 3 hearings regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant, and one of them was held tonight at the Stockton College Performing Arts Center in Galloway. The other two are in Newark tomorrow night and at Brookdale College on Thursday. (I have included the email I received from DCA at the bottom of this blog post if you want to attend tomorrow or Thursday, or you can submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us )

You can probably imagine that there were many angry, disgruntled people in attendance, and some people (not too many – actually very few) were actually literate and had good input. (My comments are included here for your reference). Sandsters, you’ve all seen these subjects before in this blog but I thought they were important enough to testify about.

“My name is Vince Simonelli and I’m the president of Dream Homes Ltd., a new home builder and general contractor in NJ. I’m a lifelong resident with an active, vested interest in efficiently rebuilding both homes affected by Sandy and the NJ economy. I’ve constructed and sold over 1500 homes and developed over 3000 building lots over the last 20 years.

Since Sandy, I’ve been moving, raising and rehabbing homes both privately and in partnership with approved REM contractors. I’m very familiar with the REM and HMGP programs. I also write a blog called Rebuilding after Sandy where I share information about the complexities of rebuilding.

I have four points regarding the REM program and allocation of the additional HUD grant. 

1. First, fund allocation should be more heavily weighted to the REM/HMGP programs, since reestablishing permanent residency is a crucial component in any economic redevelopment effort. While other allocations under the HUD grant are valid, it’s most important to return people to their homes. Currently $386 million of the $1.463 billion in the newest grant is for homeowners, which is 38% of the total. At a minimum, the allocation of REM/HMGP funds should be 60% of the total, or $888 million.  

2. Second, the REM program would be improved with the adoption of an accurate, reasonable pricing structure. The prices dictated to the DCA from HUD are between 40% – 90% lower than pricing currently approved and being paid in other states in identical programs. DCA is being hamstrung from HUD and HUD pricing is simply wrong. Insurance, taxes, labor and material costs are greater in NJ than in other states and the approved pricing should reflect that fact.

3. Third, all REM program managers should use the same criteria for estimating and pricing rehab work. This will reduce the hidden costs currently plaguing the program. All program managers should be on the same page. Confusion and inefficiency is costing the NJ taxpayer millions of dollars and much lost time.

4. Finally, Path B & Path C homeowners should not be treated differently. With Path B in REM, where homeowners choose their own contractors, design costs should be paid by REM and not deducted from homeowners’ grants. These design costs are paid under Path C and should be afforded to Path B participants as well.

Thank you for your time.”

(Believe it or not, it took me longer to cut that to 3 minutes than it does to write a 3 page blog… being brief and succinct (at least in the written word) is difficult for me. )

I did get applause twice, which was nice…and I didn’t get The Hook like some other people who went over their 3 minutes…J

Anyway, I felt pained for the panel sitting up there doing their best to dodge the eggs and rotten tomatoes being hurled at them. It was not right, to say the least. To abuse the 9 professionals on the panel and blame them for every issue in the entire DCA and RREM program because of inevitable mistakes & delays in a program of this size is like saying you aren’t eating Chinese food anymore because you had one bad egg roll. They’re trying, and no one’s perfect. 

Sandsters, I have a ton of compassion for folks going through the rebuilding process, both privately and in the program. I regularly meet with people, some of whom are so relieved to actually be speaking with a builder that they start crying in relief when they’re telling me their story (really). I’ve seen much pain, suffering & inconvenience throughout the shore and none of that is trivial. The human cost to all of us cannot be discounted or minimized.

However, some perspective is in order.

RREM (and the other 49 programs under DCA) are government programs, they’re quite large (with the new HUD grant, it’s almost 20 times larger than Floyd and Irene combined), and they’re not actually going badly considering the birth pains they are still suffering. That statement is fact based on real data, not opinion.

Do any of us really expect that in a program approaching $3.3 billion in total there wouldn’t be some mistakes, modification and corrections in the beginning? Does anyone think everyone involved will be completely well versed, have all the answers, be blindingly efficient and able to fix everything for every person immediately?

Not even a little bit. Let’s be practical and realistic. However, most people involved are really trying to move the rock up the road.

Is RREM inefficient at times? Of course, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt and it’s not the worst hand. When it becomes too much to handle, keep in mind that there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of sincere, well meaning people involved from the DCA, RREM and countless other state agencies that are doing their best to administer and manage an unwieldy adolescent  beast. It will get better and it has been steadily improving. Because you may have personally had a negative experience, that does not mean the entire effort is worthless or tarnished. If you eat one rotten apple, do you stop eating fruit for the rest of your life?

Unfortunately, if you’re reading this you’re in the first wave and like the saying goes, the pioneers are the ones with arrows sticking out of their ass…

Can the DCA & RREM improve in general on the issues of transparency and communication? Absolutely. Does anyone reading this know of any organization, public or private, that couldn’t improve in those categories? Not likely, but if you do, let me know.

Much of the angst and aggravation coming from the public is caused by misinformation and lack of understanding. Keep in mind that studiously ignoring facts in favor of rhetoric and hearsay, does not make one right or intelligent. It simply makes one belligerent and closed to reality.

Hang in there Sandsters. It’s happening, though not as quickly as anyone would want.

I’ve written too much tonight already. In the next blog, we’ll talk about appealing your grant decision, ideas for different foundation systems, timing for your project and some interesting facts about the number of people affected by Sandy that you may not know.

Reminder that if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to our Readers: Though I began and continue writing this blog primarily to try and help as many Sandsters as possible, we are design builders and general contractors and are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the state. People ask me so often if we actually do this work (which I always thought was pretty clear), that I am mentioning it in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder 

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs

Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR)

Action Plan Substantial Amendments #6 and #7

Pursuant to Federal Register Notice FR-5696-N-06 

Please take notice that the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs will hold three public hearings to solicit public comments on the State’s plan for the allocation and expenditure of $1,463,000,000 in CDBG-DR funds, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to New Jersey pursuant to the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (Public Law 113-2). The State will also accept public comment on a proposal to provide rental assistance in the form of tenant-based vouchers for Sandy-impacted households. State cabinet officials and staff will provide an overview of proposed allocations and priorities.  Public comments will begin immediately after the presentation. To ensure maximum convenience for residents, hearings will be held in New Jersey’s northern, central and southern regions pursuant to the following schedule:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 (4:00pm – 7:00pm)

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey – Performing Arts Center (PAC)

101 Vera King Farris Drive

Galloway, NJ 08205

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 (5:30pm – 8:30 pm)

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Campus Center

141 Summit Street

Newark, NJ 07103

 

Thursday, February 13, 2014 (4:00pm – 7:00 pm)

Brookdale Community College

Robert J. Collins Arena and Recreation & Events Center

765 Newman Springs Road

Middletown, NJ 07738

Those interested in speaking at the public hearings will be given up to three minutes.  To sign up to speak, please register online https://bitly.com/SandyPublicHearings. All hearing dates, times and locations are subject to change due to inclement weather conditions. Information regarding any change in the hearing schedule will be posted at the above mentioned website at least two hours before the scheduled start time of the hearing. Those who need accessibility accommodations are advised to contact the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs at sandy.recovery@dca.state.nj.us , or call 609-292-3750 to ensure full availability of services.

Residents may also submit their comments in writing at the public hearing, or by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us or by mail to the attention of Gabrielle Gallagher, NJ Department of Community Affairs, 101 South Broad Street, P.O. Box 800, Trenton, NJ 08625-0811. For more information about New Jersey’s Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts or to download a copy of the State’s Action Plan and related amendments, visit http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/sandyrecovery/action/  or request a copy at the above mentioned address.

 

 


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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 1-25-14 – RREM – Positive Movement & Design Fee Dilemma in Path B & C – Driving in the snow – HMGP Mystery – Where’s the Money, Honey? Seminar Schedule for February

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 1-25-14

RREM – Positive Movement & Design Fee Dilemma in Path B & C

Driving in the snow – HMGP Mystery – Where’s the Money, Honey?

Seminar Schedule for February & Great Link to RREM Plans!

Hello Sandsters –

I hope all is going well for you and you aren’t freezing your butt off too much. This weather has been wicked and unpleasant. For the record, I am in favor of global warming happening quite a bit more quickly around here…I think humans shouldn’t be subject to temps under 65 degrees and we’re already raising & elevating the whole damn Jersey shore, so let’s warm it up a bit…J

We’ve much to talk about today, so let’s get started. Sorry for the delay in posting…I would love to write 2-3 times a week since there is a ton of information to share but it’s just not happening right now. Site visits, estimates, consultation and actual construction are most important, although the blog is definitely a key for getting info out. Life is a balance. But there’ll be no pretense at brevity today. It’s not going to happen…J

As a note, if you’ve sent me an email with a question and have not received a response, please resend it to me. I have that nagging feeling several have gotten lost in my email swamp and I don’t want to miss any of your questions.

Word of caution about driving in snow with Anti-Lock Brakes – Most people know this, but it bears repeating. If you have anti-lock brakes (most cars do) and you start to slide, DO NOT pump your brakes. Press down on your brake pedal and hold it. That horrid sound you hear is the brake system working to stop the skid. Nothing is broken.

Great News for anyone reconstructing under the RREM program who wants to look at SUPER copies of plans and elevations – Right on the Interweb in the comfort of your home! As many of you know, we’ve had (not great) copies of many of the RREM plans on our website at www.dreamhomesltd.com Unfortunately we were asked to remove them from our site, which we promptly did, because we are team players and good little Eagle Scouts and were only trying to help our dear Sandsters…J HOWEVER – our approved RREM partners at Robert Wolfe Construction have a fantastic site showing all the plans and colored elevations for the RREM models!…click on http://www.robertwolfeinc.com/home-plans/nj-rrem-home-plans/ to see the entire line.

Save that link and send it to your neighbors who need it.

Upcoming Seminar Notes & Events:  Join us for a Rebuilding / RREM Seminar on February 27th, 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington Street. We will be in the Green Room which is a great space, but seating is limited to 30 people. Please respond if you would like to come. We will be hosting Baumgardner House Lifting as one of our speakers, along with Scott Lepley architect and Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. Refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. There will be time for questions and case review afterwards.

Sooooooooooo….where’s the HMGP Money, Honey? I heard over the last few weeks that some HMGP funding is being delayed, and no reason given. HMGP is (was?) one of the more efficient funding programs and it makes no sense to delay its implementation. If you have been approved for the HMGP grant and aren’t seeing any movement:

  1. Send in your signed building contract with your plans to both your case worker and insurance company (ICC funding from flood insurance) and ask them in writing when you can get started and how the funding will work. If you aren’t pushing, nothing will happen. Be nice but be persistent and keep copies of everything.
  2. Make sure the scope of work in the contract you send or deliver to them is for the minimum allowed by the state, which is all HMGP and ICC will pay for. That means elevating to ABFE +1 (advisory base flood plus 1 foot), with pressure treated stairs and platforms and all decks to remain in place. If you are choosing to do additional work, it should be listed in a separate contract with an additional scope of work, so you do not delay getting your plans and contract approved by the program and your insurance company. Neither the program nor the insurance companies will pay for upgrades. Remember to always keep copies of everything you submit.

(Readers who have been following all year know that we have repeatedly recommended to our clients to elevate the additional 2’ to BFE +3, which is currently the elevation at which you will pay the 2nd lowest insurance rates. BFE +4 is actually the lowest rate.

The additional cost to go up 2 extra feet will usually be paid off in 2-3 years of insurance savings. )

Definition: Remember Sandsters – Flood elevations stand for height above mean sea level, not height above the ground at your house or height above finished floor. Elevating your house 5’ to elevation 10 means your new finished floor height will be 10 feet above sea level, not 10’ above the ground.

HMGP is a reimbursement program so nothing is paid to you until you are complete your project. Your insurance company will usually distribute $15,000 to start and $15,000 on completion. If you cannot fund the construction yourself in the meantime, you need to communicate that information to your builder so he can accommodate your finance schedule. It’s not an insurmountable issue, but many smaller builders can’t work under terms like that and you definitely have to be clear.

HMGP is truly an important component of the rebuilding process for the simple reasons that it is limited in scope (elevation only on renovated properties), efficient in design and distribution and encompasses a great number of homes that can be done very quickly. From an economic standpoint, it has greater impact to complete a greater number of projects in a short time, than it does to focus solely on the complete rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. The RREM work is and will get done on its own time line – the HMGP program is solely in the hands of you as the homeowner and should and will move more quickly once it gets rolling.

The house lift and multiple move on Matilda Drive in the Coves section of Manahawkin is proceeding well amidst some really lovely 10 degree weather. The house should be reset on a new piling foundation within another week or so and if it snows again, we will erect a temporary igloo under the house for rest breaks.

We talked in the last blog about the design stage starting in many jobs which will lead to several dozen homes being started and under construction in the first quarter of this year. There are still (as always) delays and nightmare inducing paperwork shuffles and none of that helps either your mental state or your digestion. (Pretend you are working at a low-paying, thankless job which will end in a few months and it will seem a bit more manageable.)

But…like I’ve said, the snowball has finally started rolling down the mountain and will steadily become larger and stronger as it grows – just like the RREM program.

As much as this blog contains criticism, both the DCA and the RREM program and construction managers deserve solid praise for the following items:

  1. DCA & RREM willingness to rapidly respond to input and changing circumstances. From focus groups to conference calls, builders have been giving suggestions for efficiency and process improvement, and they are being heard and incorporated into policy.
  2. Realistic assessments and construction evaluations from the program managers and construction managers. We have been going out to houses and meeting with construction managers with building expertise and having pointed, accurate conversations about scopes of work. This is a world of improvement from the open bid system the program started with.

These are huge items that deserve mention. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, as long as you constantly correct and adjust your course and move in the right direction. (pursuing a course you know to be incorrect while hoping for a different outcome is lunacy). A great amount of critical import from the builders in the program has been and is being heard, reviewed and changed for the better. In my experience, that is not common in life in general and exceedingly rare in government. The RREM managers and the DCA are focused on moving houses and diligently improving processes daily. That is great news for everyone up and down the shore and I am optimistic improvements will continue.

Ok, back to the BizarroWorld of confusing rules in the RREM program that make little or no sense and should (and inevitably will) be changed. Paraphrasing from the last blog,

“Unfortunately, design costs under Path B are not in addition to your grant amount, but are deducted from that amount. Fortunately, when working directly with your own contractor, design costs are usually less than what they are through the program. With Pathway C, your design costs are paid in addition to your grant amount. With many people this matters quite a bit.”

To put it simply, this policy makes no sense. Why wouldn’t the program pay for design costs with Path B when they are paying for them with Path C? Path B is quite a bit more economical to the state from a cast perspective and it is not at all fair that homeowners in Path B should pay all their own design costs. The work still has to be done under both Paths and it is reasonable that all homes under the RREM program should have this cost allowance built in to the contingency and design stage portion of the budget. This is an item that should be changed and hopefully will be in the near future.

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

A Note to our Readers: Though I began and continue writing this blog primarily to try and help as many of the thousands of Sandsters affected by Sandy as possible, we are design builders and general contractors and are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the state. People call and ask me so often if we actually do this work (which I always thought was pretty clear), that I thought I’d mention it in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

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