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!
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