Dream Homes Ltd. Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
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.
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