New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog 10 – 26 – 13 One Year since Sandy – RREM Update – FEMA / RREM House Plans – Governor Christie’s Comments

 Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog 10 – 26 – 13

 One Year from Sandy – RREM Update – FEMA / RREM House Plans  –  Governor Christie’s Comments

 10 – 26 -13

 Hello everyone –

Hopefully this post finds you and your family doing well and moving along with your project. It’s been extremely busy lately, with new projects starting all over the shore. We see more and more starts as architects & contractors become much more familiar with the varied and specialized rebuilding requirements at the shore, and homeowners make final decisions about their own direction.

It is incredible to think, but Sandy hit one year ago Tuesday. To bastardize a literary reference…it’s not been the best of times but at least we’re through the worst of times…we’ll keep pushing and improving and moving forward.

Stay strong New Jersey.

Governor Christie, FEMA, RREM, HMGP Update: – The New, The Odd and the Hopeful:

Love him or hate him, Governor Christie was out there again on the front page of the AP Press yesterday. There were a a lot of words, and definitely good intentions and willingness to change, but still a fundamental disconnect with the general frustration of great numbers of people. At least now the administration has general acknowledgment that there is a problem with the execution of the various programs. Telling someone you’re going to bring them food for dinner gets a little thin after a week or so. It’s one year, we allocated $600 million, and we spent $0. We’re getting another $1.5 billion now, which is a good thing, but it seems like the mechanism and bureaucracy created to distribute the money are getting in their own way.

We need to get the money out more quickly. Simple. Removing 65% of the paperwork would streamline things quite a bit.

Big kudos to Christie, who opposes a Democratic led effort to introduce a Catastrophic Relief Fund, to assist with the distribution of money, ahead of the already authorized distribution under the existing grants. Yes you did read that correctly. He’s right in opposing that bill – it’s completely ludicrous to assume that the people administering the 2nd $250 million are more competent than those failing to dole out the first $600 million. Craziness.

NJ is going to do another advertising program in the later winter / early spring, which is a great plan.

According to our governor, NJ may petition HUD to be able to reallocate money that has not been used towards more popular, oversubscribed programs like RREM and HMGP. That is also a very good idea.

RREM– Great News! Large Change in Contractor Selection Rules: Yay!! There is no way I am crazy enough to think that my little bi-weekly literary masterpiece changed policy at the governmental level, but it is nice to know that I’m not just a nut preaching to an empty church. It is a good feeling when policy changes correctly, and for the better and it is always a pleasure being on the side of the angels.

The RREM rules have changed and you can now pick your own contractor to complete your project. This is an excellent (vital) improvement to the program and puts control of the process where it belongs – with the homeowner who knows their own situation best.  At the RREM administrative level, someone realized that the process just wasn’t happening fast enough under the old rules and a rule change was needed.

You can still allow RREM to put your project out for bid, but now you have the choice. If you wish to interview and work with contractors you are comfortable with, you can now do so.

Time Frame & Delays – What’s Holding up your Job? :

Generally, indecision and confusion is delaying you in the beginning. The myriad soft issues that need to be addressed first are as time consuming as the actual construction work. Once you actually receive permits and start work, usually it’s poor planning on the part of your builder or contractor (or you, if you are managing the work yourself).

Reminder – based on an average 4-5 month time frame for a lift or renovation project, you should get your project started soon to be completely finished and able to enjoy spring & summer of 2014. It is usually 1-2 months before any physical work is done and about 2 months to complete the work, depending on the complexity of the job.

The 1-2 months are needed in any project for scheduling and obtaining  surveys, soil borings, foundation analysis, and architectural & engineering design of piling or concrete foundation and entries. All the utilities must be disconnected and letters obtained from the utility companies. All of this occurs before you can get a building permit.

Once you start, however, it is all about good planning and coordination. Your job should be active each

day until it is complete. If it is not, and the delay is not weather related, someone dropped the ball somewhere on the critical path and you need to start asking questions and making some noise.

Examples: When the move or lift is complete, the surveyor should be there immediately staking the lot for pilings or the mason should start immediately adding block to the existing foundation.

Township inspections should be called that anticipate completion, to avoid 3-5 day delays during the process (really – just do this – it works).

Lumber for floor systems should be on site the day the foundation is completed (or the next day).

Hold down, strapping and sheathing inspections should be called for as soon as the house is placed back on the foundation and also so that it can be re-sided quickly.

Mechanical contractors should all be ready to go at the same time as soon as the house is lowered, since they can all work independently of each other. Entry stairs should be installed as soon as possible so anyone important can access the house.

This author is not a fan of general contracting your own job – we are called in regularly in the middle of jobs to fix them – nonetheless, the above serves as a decent outline.

Summary: Anal retentive qualities are key once the active part of the process starts. Each day counts in 2 or 3 ways – the devil is most definitely in the details.

RREM Plans – How do you find them?

As you probably already know, the RREM program will not authorize a house lift when the house is on a slab, and to my knowledge even the much discussed case by case exceptions have not happened in this case. If you qualified for RREM and want to use the $150,000, plan on choosing one of the approved house plans and paying any difference over and above the $150,000 from other sources.

There are 18 plans offered through the RREM program and most have been approved at this point. There are 3 elevation styles for each house, so there is some variety. Unfortunately, and as you might expect, to date you cannot access them directly on the RREM website. However, we have downloaded all the plans from some of the larger approved RREM contractors who have requested estimates from us for new homes. The files are too large to put up on the blog (each one averages 10 mb and is 24 – 30 pages), but If you email or call me, I will gladly fax you copies of plans that may suit you. Sizes range from 900 square feet to 2000 square feet and are both one and 2 stories. As I mentioned, each basic style offers 3 different elevations – Traditional, Victorian and Contemporary, with the floor plans remaining the same.

RREM Update: – The Hopeful:

The good news – many of the large national builders we’ve been working with, have been repeatedly requesting estimates for finished houses in quantity, which indicates that FEMA is about to really start releasing contracts in large volume (to try and make up for a completely sloooooooooow start). We will wait and see, with little confidence but hopeful optimism. Supposedly FEMA will be authorizing construction on new homes in lots of 50 homes at a time to the larger builders, which would be a definite step in the right direction. We will wind up building hundreds of these homes throughout the shore over the next few years – my background as a production builder is useful for this type of work.

      Repeat – Good news: Homeowners affected by Sandy have been granted another 6 months to file a Sandy petition for any revised insurance claims, appeals or additional items you may have discovered after your first claim. This takes some of the pressure off from the October 29, 2013 deadline.

      Repeat: Warning: HMGP Note: Before you get HMGP money, you will be required to sign a deed restriction in perpetuity (which lasts forever and stays with your title)) stating that flood insurance will always be required on the home. I wasn’t aware of this restriction and it is definitely worth noting since it could potentially affect both your future costs of ownership, as well as the sales potential of your home. Be warned and consult with an attorney if you have questions or concerns.

      $50,000 Homebuyer Grant – Still open for application: For anyone of low or moderate income who is thinking about buying a home (or who needs a house for their college student or newly married child), the new $50,000 1st time homeowner grant is an amazing gift from NJ. If you earn 80% or less of the median income, you are eligible for this grant. A surprising number of households are in this category in NJ and the specific income guidelines vary by county. You will need a credit score of 620 and be willing to stay there for 5 years, but those conditions are not unreasonable. The $50,000 effectively comprises your down payment (for houses up to $250,000), so can effectively buy a house with no money down. Check it out now – this is a great deal.

      For anyone who needs it, the FEMA hotline is 855 726 3946 go on their website at www.renewjerseystronger.org.

       Hope this information helped you today. As always, if you have question, comments or just need some assistance, please don’t hesitate to email me or to call me directly at 732 300 5619.  

Stay well NJ. Keep up!

Vincent

Dream Homes, Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Rebuild, Renovate, Raise or Repair Your Home from Storm Sandy

Rebuilding NJ One Home at a Time…

Residential Construction & Development for over 20 years in NJ

314 Rt.9, Forked River, NJ 08731 Mailing: PO Box 627, Forked River, NJ 08731

609 693 8881 x 102 Fax: 609 693 3802 Cell: 732 300 5619 New Home Builder License # 045894  HIC License # 13VH07489000

vince@dreamhomesltd.com  www.dreamhomesltd.com  http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog 10 – 6 – 13

 Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog 10 – 6 – 13

 HMGP Deed Restriction – FEMA Contractors – RREM Madness – House Plans Comments & Updates

 10 – 6 -13

 Greetings everyone –

Hopefully this post finds you well and productive in what is turning out to be a very busy fall season. In the last 3 weeks we have added a number of new clients, and it seems as if everyone is working to their capacity (or above it in some cases). It seems that the end of the summer has been a great impetus for people to get started, realizing that one must practically start a project by the end of the year – preferably no later than November – in order to be completely finished and able to enjoy the spring or summer of 2014.

 Good news: Homeowners affected by Sandy have been granted another 6 months to file a Sandy petition for any revised insurance claims, appeals or additional items you may have discovered after your first claim. This takes some of the pressure off from the October 29, 2013 deadline. It is amazing that it has been almost a year since Sandy changed our lives at the Jersey Shore.

 HMGP Note & Warning (thanks to Mary Whitby for this comment): As you probably already know, if you haven’t applied for the RREM, you are probably not going to get it in the future so you should move forward and explore other options. I’ve been talking a lot about the $30,000 HMGP grant which covers lifting the house only and has really been working for many people. However, you will be required to sign a deed restriction in perpetuity (which lasts forever and stays with your title)) stating that flood insurance will always be required on the home. I wasn’t aware of this restriction and it is definitely worth noting since it could potentially affect both your future costs of ownership, as well as the sales potential of your home. Be warned and consult with an attorney if you have questions or concerns.

 The Real Most Important Item Holding up your House Lifting: The most common misconception about lifting your house is thinking that when you are finally mentally and financially ready to lift your house, it will happen immediately thereafter. In reality, there is 1-2 months of scheduling and obtaining  surveys, soil borings, foundation analysis, and architectural design of piling or concrete foundation and entries, which all occurs before you can get a building permit.

The 2nd most frequently asked question (after “How much is this going to cost me?) is “How long will it take?”

The solution and answer to the first item is to get started on all the preliminary items you need as soon as you can, since you will need all of that information no matter when you decide to pull the trigger on the actual work.

The answer to the second is about 4 months – 2 months before any physical work is done and about 2 months to complete the work, depending on the complexity of the job.

 RREM Approved Contractor – Notes: For all of our clients who are receiving (supposedly) RREM funds, we have been partnering with Baumgardner House Lifting (who is one of the very few approved FEMA contractors) for all FEMA RREM work. Since Sandy, we’ve been working with Andrew on a number of projects and he has been an excellent trade partner.

Please Note: If you want us (or any other approved builder you are working with) to be able to work with you on your project, you must request that your contractor be one of the three contractors submitting a bid on your renovation. Supposedly, preference is given to signed contracts and previous work associations, but once again that decision is made on a case by case basis. Generally the best you can hope for is to get your builder or contractor to be one of the 3 bidders on your job.

 RREM Madness – Episode #36: – Same Old, Same Old: RREM is still trudging along, trying to mature into a useful, effective program that actually helps people, as opposed to its current condition of frustrating homeowners terribly and encouraging depression and alcoholism. 

We’re hearing more and more often that FEMA under the RREM program will not authorize a house lift when the house is on a slab, and even the much discussed case by case exceptions have not happened. If you qualified for RREM and want to use the $150,000, plan on choosing one of the approved house plans and paying any difference over and above the $150,000 from other sources.

As I said in an earlier post, there are 18 plans offered through the RREM program, and each offers 3 elevation styles, so there is some variety. Unfortunately, and as you might expect, to date you cannot access them directly on the RREM website. However, although if you poke around in the contractor section, and then click on the NJBA (NJ Builder’s Association) website at http://www.njba.org, you can find the full plans for review.

Anyone who has developed architectural plans to raise their home and had been waiting months to start, only to have their lives and constructive efforts put on hold when the RREM grant was first introduced. No comment about that other than the volumes I have already written – if you consider the total number of hours spent on administrative paperwork nonsense by everyone affected by Sandy, the monetary effects to the local economy are staggering. When you are sitting in a FEMA office supplying paperwork you have supplied several times already, you are not working and generating income, employing people, investing in capital improvements like rebuilding, or spending money to stimulate the economy. The last item speaks directly to M2, which you hear about in the financial news. M2, or money flow, is the speed and frequency at which everyone spends money. When it is constrained for any reason, the economy stalls, consumer confidence decreases and there is general frustration and anxiety. Many clients we consult with have palpable levels of frustration and annoyance with FEMA and the process. No one wants to wait and hope and be delayed with no reason. The delays and confusion are working in direction contravention to the efforts to stimulate the state economy and rebuild more quickly.

 

The good news is that several of the large national builders we have been working with and providing estimates for finished houses, have indicated that FEMA is telling them that the floodgates are about to break open, and the Walls of Troy are supposedly coming down in the near future – as soon as 60 days. We will wait and see, with little confidence but hopeful optimism. Supposedly FEMA will be authorizing construction in lots of 50 homes at a time, which would be a definite step in the right direction.

The bad news is that the parameters of the program are based on disbursement procedures utilized in Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, where entire sections of housing were demolished and entire new neighborhoods rebuilt. That is obviously not the case in NJ, where we have many thousands of individual lots and homes on scattered lots, with varying elevations, ages and foundation structures.

 

      $50,000 Homebuyer Grant – Reminder: For anyone who is thinking about buying your first home (or who needs a house for their college student or newly married child), the new $50,000 1st time homeowner grant is an amazing gift from NJ. If you earn 80% or less of the median income, you are eligible for this grant. A surprising number of households are in this category in NJ and the specific income guidelines vary by county. You will need a credit score of 620 and be willing to stay there for 5 years, but those conditions are not unreasonable. The $50,000 effectively comprises your down payment (for houses up to $250,000), and you can buy the house with no money down. Check it out now – this is a great deal.

 

      For anyone who needs it, the FEMA hotline is 855 726 3946 . Call to register for either grant or go on their website at www.renewjerseystronger.org.

 

       Hope this information helped you today. As always, if you have question, comments or just need some assistance, please don’t hesitate to call me directly at 732 300 5619.  

Stay well NJ. Keep up!

 

Vincent

 

Dream Homes, Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Rebuild, Renovate, Raise or Repair Your Home from Storm Sandy

Rebuilding NJ One Home at a Time…

Residential Construction & Development for over 20 years in NJ

314 Rt.9, Forked River, NJ 08731 Mailing: PO Box 627, Forked River, NJ 08731

609 693 8881 x 102 Fax: 609 693 3802 Cell: 732 300 5619 New Home Builder License # 045894  HIC License # 13VH07489000

vince@dreamhomesltd.com  www.dreamhomesltd.com  http://blog.foxmoorhomes.com