Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hello Sandsters and Happy New Year!
I hope everyone’s holiday was healthy and drama free. Let’s raise a glass (or several) to a happy, healthy, prosperous, stress free New Year. May your life be peaceful and your project proceed like greased lightning.
This blog has some provenance. I started it 3 times since the last one, which goes to show you how things have been lately in Rebuilding Land. (Note to Vince: If you want to run with the Big Dogs and not snooze with the Fat Chihuahuas, you will survive on 5 hours sleep per night and not complain.)
Hopefully this post finds you well and successfully moving along with your project.
I have a ton of interesting things for you today, but I’m going to follow my own advice for a change about getting something done though it may not be perfect, complete or comprehensive. Maybe if I didn’t try to write a whole book each time and cover 10 topics….
On the subject of books, I promised myself I’d write a book about Rebuilding after Sandy / Dealing with RREM when I got 100 requests and at this point I’ve received more than triple that number. So look for the Sandy Iliad by Vince sometime this spring. The blog is a good resource but it would be nice to have all the info organized in one place that you can actually refer to without a computer.
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. Yay! Only took us 6 months to get it working, but we finally got there. It’s the whole turtle/hare thing personified in living color.
Let’s jump into this, shall we? I have RREM Retardedness for you, health and nutrition tips for winter survival, time out of your house, winterizing your home, dealing with concrete and foundation issues and about 50 other things I want to write about. We’ll see where we end up.
Jumping in the deep end of the pool, this weeks Insanity, brought to you courtesy of RREM….
In pursuit of blinding inefficiency and in a typical effort to slow recent tendencies towards solid forward motion, RREM has come up with some new hurdles for you and your poor builder to endure.
Ready for this time sucker? We all now have to supply all professional licenses from all design professionals involved in a project to the RREM program manager when submitting an invoice.
So that stamp, seal and signature affixed to your plot plan, survey, piling certification, and engineer or architects drawing is no longer sufficient to establish ones qualifications.
Evidently the entire building department infrastructure throughout NJ (complete with zoning officers, licensed building subcode officials, and township engineers that review our submittals) are unqualified to determine that our professionals have the required qualifications to perform their services.
Calm your heart though. The Rhodes Scholars who are sitting in as RREM program managers can opine on these qualifications! Whew! Lucky we have them to perform the same work we are already paying for when we receive a permit! One can never have too many safe guards and you know what they say, 200 idiots are vastly superior to one thinking man. Who said that, Stalin? Mao? Some blithering moron.
Doesn’t unnecessary procedure just piss you off? The only thing that happens when payment requests are delayed needlessly is that work slows. Every bit of unnecessary nonsense serves as friction – and costs Sandsters and others living in Sandy towns in numerous ways.
Grrrr! Why are we coming up with activities that have nothing to do with expediting reconstruction? It is the Peter Principle writ large. The level of paperwork will inevitably increase to fill the capacity of the idiots hired to administer it, with no consideration of cost / benefit. Quite sad.
Sandsters – What Exactly are you paying your builder for? As we’ve said numerous times in the past, it’s not a good idea to general contract your own home elevation project yourself…or to try and help your builder do what you’re paying them for. Remember that construction is a complex system, where every component affects a number of other items, some of which are critical. Keep constant changes to a minimum and stick with the plan as much as possible. Every change causes delay and additional cost – make sure the change is worth the result (again the cost/benefit issue).
Remember Sandsters – You are paying for a finished project delivered in a timely fashion in budget. You are not paying for an education of the specifics necessary for the 1000 decisions that are made during a project or how to specifically perform them.
A general clear understanding of what is happening or going to happen is important – an intimate understanding of how every nail in the house is placed is not only not important but will hinder progress and inevitably cause frustration. Put another way, it’s one thing to boot the computer and log on to the Interweb; it’s another to understand the science of exactly how this the Interweb gets into your computer so you can watch YouTube.
Repeat: Electric Reconnection –Explained: I wrote this last time and it received a number of calls and emails thanking me, so I am throwing in a brief repeat paragraph here. For a comprehensive (finally) understandable explanation about how exactly your electric is reconnected to your house, and what you have to do to make it happen, read the last blog from 12/13/14. I do a page that details everything.
Summary: When your house is set back down on the new foundation after a lift (or when your new house is sided), the electrician lowers the meter pan and stack so the top of the glass is no more than 6’ from the ground and no less than Base Flood plus 1. If your flood elevation does not permit the meter to be set low enough, a platform must be built so the meter reader can climb up and read the meter.
(Author’s note: Platforms for electric meters are Dippity Doodle Dumb – see last blog for detail. Yes that is a construction term).
When the meter pan and stack have been lowered (new siding must be in place), your builder or electrician will call the township for an Electrical Service Inspection (not to be confused with a rough electrical inspection, which is completely different). The township electrical inspector (not the electric company) will come out, look at the outside pan and stack, check heights and grounding, make sure the top breaker in the inside panel is also not more than 6’ from the floor, and you will hopefully pass your Electrical Service Inspection.
At this the township will (hopefully) send in a Cut In Card to your electric company, which let’s them know that the service was installed correctly and they can come out and set a meter. I say “hopefully” because sometimes the township forgets to do this simple little task and you languish quietly and suffer, thinking the world is spinning correctly on its axis, when it is not.
Usually within a week or so, a meter will magically appear at your house, you will have power at your panel and at least one circuit will be working. Now the electrician can complete the rest of the reconnections to the house, or installation of the wiring if it is a new home, and your builder can call for a Rough Electric Inspection. Once that passes, you can get frame inspection or insulation inspection if needed and close your walls.
Again, see the last blog for mind numbing detail on this subject.
Repeat – Reminder: Start your design work now to be in for summer 2015. If you haven’t started your design work, you’re just about cutting it too tight at this point to be in for summer. If that’s your goal, call us immediately so we can help you make that happen.
Repeat: 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. Design and survey fees cost you the same amount whether you handle 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. It will definitely take you longer if you handle it yourself though.
If you want to get your house finished by summer, and still take advantage of cheap winter rentals at the beach, you have to get started now.
If you have your design work done and RREM under control, what are you waiting for to get started??
House Lifting – Winter schedule – Delays: We have 28 active projects now going between Point and Atlantic City with a number starting in the next few weeks, and in addition to being plagued by permit and review issues, we now have weather issues to deal with. Joy.
Though building departments in Sandy affected towns will unfortunately be the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding and the permit and inspection process will sadly continue to slow everything down, you should be aware that an average of 10 days (more for incompetent builders) will be added to the cycle time for projects that begin in the winter.
Remember: The temperature has to be at least 25 degrees Fahrenheit and rising in order to pour concrete and this condition has to hold for at least 4-6 hours in order for concrete to cure correctly.
In addition, footings have to be dry when inspectors come out, which means you may have to dewater or pump your footing both to get inspection as well as to actually pour the concrete.
Concrete costs more in the winter also, since inevitably calcium hydroxide (anti-freeze) is added to the mix (which is a winter mix) to retard the water from freezing and allow the concrete to form correctly. Costs are easily 10% higher than normally.
Over the last 2 years we’ve averaged 7-8 weeks to have a house reset on a new foundation and all utilities on, I’ve noticed that no matter what we do projects are always delayed in the winter.
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 now have a ton of video I have to get up on the blog. I’ve been strapping on my Go Pro, filming the chaos that is a house lift and have numerous videos. Stay tuned for greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.
Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. Whether or not you are Dream Homes/Atlantic Northeast Construction client or not, I’ll always try and help you or guide you in the right direction. If you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.
Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. and Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC are new home builders and general contractors who are actively renovating and reconstructing projects up and down the shore. We actually do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.
That’s all for today Sandsters. I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.
Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894
Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000
PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731
Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802
Cell: 732 300 5619