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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 5-22-17 – How Much Money is Your Builder Making on your Job? Communications – Rebuilding Seminar 6-14-17

Dream Homes and Development Corp.

Dream Building LLC.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

5-23-17

Hello Sandsters –

Hope you are well and moving along with your project. Today I am writing a short blog about profit, and what builders really earn on your project.

Often people are under misconceptions about the amount of money which is earned on a construction project. Today, I’ll get into a little more detail to help you understand the financial aspects of a new home or renovation project.

The short new home version is this: new home builders earn between 8% – 12% EBIT (earnings before interest taxes). That’s it and yes, really. That’s about $20,000 on a $200,000 sale. It’s NOT $35,000, $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 like many people think. Believe me – I’ve built and sold over 1600 new homes in the last 24 years. Those are real numbers.

The short renovation/elevation project version is this: general contractors, remodelers, and renovation providers earn between 10% – 18% EBIT (earnings before interest & taxes). That’s about $14,000 on a $100,000 renovation project. It’s NOT $25,000, $35,000 or $50,000. Again, we’ve completed over 160 renovation projects since Storm Sandy so I have real data to draw from.

For background, and so you can gauge the accuracy of what I am revealing here, I’ve owned and operated a construction and development company since 1993 and have been working with audited financial statements for the last 15 years.

Audited statements are the highest level of financial reporting available, and enable one to see accurate profit & loss, assets and liabilities and equity. I bring up this point, because there are 2 other (lesser) levels of financial reporting, which cannot be relied upon to give an accurate picture of a companies’ financial condition.

These forms are Compiled (fairly worthless – you say whatever you want to say to your accountant and he puts in in proper form) and Reviewed (you provide your accountant with some documentation and he reviews it for reasonableness and proves some of your larger items like payroll, overhead, etc). Reviewed financial are slightly more useful than compiled, but any serious company uses audited financials.

Dream Homes & Development Corp. (OTCOB: Ticker DREM) is a publicly traded, fully reporting (audited financials) company. (Note that over 95% of the companies trading on the OTC market are not audited, but merely compiled financials. Those are the “pink sheets” companies, and are usually trading at some percentage or multiple of a penny).

So, what I’m telling you today is reality, not make-believe. Like many other myths on social media, the myth of half (50%) of the price of a construction job is profit is just that – a fairy tale.

Let’s dig deeper now and provide some answers to some popular questions.

Question 1: Why was Shore House Lifters able to charge $30,000 – $50,000 less than everyone else for the same job? How did Price Home Group (PHG) sell 1600 square foot houses for $159,900?

Answer 1: Duh. Do you believe people still ask me that question? Shore wasn’t able to actually charge those prices. They were ripping people off from the beginning. PHG didn’t have a clue what they were doing. They priced their jobs at or below actual material and labor costs, so they lost money on each job. They believed they would make it up in volume.

However, idiocy multiplied does not create intelligence. 124 Wrongs don’t make a Right. And, a Ponzi scheme by any other name is still a Ponzi scheme.

Lesson: If you receive an estimate that’s too good to be true, you’re probably about to get robbed. Don’t be the person standing up when the music stops. Your estimate should be reasonable, in the mid-range of an active, honest market and provide for a fair profit.

Question 2: Why should I pay someone to build for me if I can save $10,000, $15,000 or even $20,000 by doing it myself? Answer 2: Ladies and gents, that’s a complete sucker bet. 98% of the time paying a professional to perform a complex multiple month function will be the best money you ever spend. Depending on the level of error, if you make one mistake you could easily cost yourself as much or more than you would spend hiring a professional. If you make 2 mistakes, you’re usually past the $10,000 point in actual costs and that ignores the cost of your time and the increased project duration. In addition, unless you are some type of construction professional, you’re probably not capable of effectively managing a complex construction project correctly.

Question 3: Why should I let anyone make a profit on me? I can’t afford to spend $1 more than I should. Why shouldn’t I keep shopping until I get the price I want for the scope of work I want?

Answer 3: This is a bit more complex and touches on common sense as well as philosophy. Starting with the answer to the second part of the question, see Question 1 above.

If you look hard enough, you can always find someone who will tell you what you want to hear, (usually) in exchange for a large upfront deposit, for which you’ll be given a “special price”. Sandsters, construction is a commodity business (food, clothing, shelter). There are no special prices.

(Remember- a fool and his money are soon parted. PT Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Don’t be either of those.)

There are legitimate variables (which we’ll cover in a minute) but they are minor, provable and quantifiable. There are no variables that allow one company to charge 30% – 40% less than another company and still be able to complete the job.

Why should you allow a company to make a profit on your project? Folks, thank God we live in a laissez-faire capitalist society. You want the company you’re dealing with to make a profit, so they can finish your project correctly and be in business to provide service to you in the future. You have a very small chance of being the last client serviced correctly if you are dealing with a company who is taking deposits from the next person to pay to finish your job. It’s like trying to time the stock market and attempting to sell at the very top, or buy at the bottom.

A very smart person told me about 30 years ago, “Be very careful of anyone who tells you they are not making a profit, or are “losing money on your job”. I’ll never deal with someone who tells me that up front – and won’t keep dealing with a person or company who tells me that in the middle of their job”. That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received and it’s one of the rules we operate under at Dream. Other than profit, the only other motivation for a company to provide goods and services to another company or individual is altruism or love of humanity. With a little thought we can demonstrate that true altruism may be the most selfish of activities (why else would you do something wonderful for nothing other than for the incredible feeling it gives you?), but that’s a topic for another day.

Suffice to say, we won’t deal with anyone who can’t demonstrate that they’re making a fair profit on our business. It’s foolish. If you’re not making money, who’s answering the phone when I call? What if there is a problem that needs to be addressed?

The lesson is that the amount of money your builder is attempting (hoping) to earn from your project is modest compared to the amount of risk and work that will be done. It’s truly money well spent and probably one of the more judicious expenditures you’ll make in your life.

Hopefully this clarifies some concerns about overpaying for your project, and thinking that your builder is retiring on the money he’s making from your project.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Wednesday June 14th, 2017 – On Facebook Live!!

Our next Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday June 14th, 2017 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. We’ll also be streaming it on Facebook Live and be online if you want to email questions or comments while the seminar is under way.

If you are planning a project, whether a new home, elevation or renovation, make sure you attend for tons of great information from our excellent speakers. It will really help you get started on the right track. We try to focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect.

Topics covered will include architectural and engineering planning, construction technique, RREM guidance, help with choosing the right builder and consumer safety cautions when dealing with him, advice on financing your project, comments and tips about home elevation and finally advice on how to buy a new home or sell your existing one. We also talk about RREM issues, (the lunacy of) managing your own project, the money builders really make on your project and ways to avoid delays and going over budget.

Mark the date and call to reserve – Wednesday, June 14th at 6:00 pm at the Tuscan Bistro 1250 Hooper Ave. in Toms River, across Hooper from the OC Mall. Please call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space if you want to attend. Refreshments will be served and space is limited.

Dream Homes and Development Corporation (DREM) A publicly traded OTCQB company

On March 14th, our name change was finally approved and we are now trading as Dream Homes & Development Corp., with the ticker symbol of DREM. We’re one of very few companies trading on the OTC which is a fully reporting audited company and to my knowledge, we’re the only public company doing home elevation work in New Jersey. Please check us out online – we would love to have you as shareholders! For more information and an information package, contact Matt Chipman, our investor relations person. Matt can be reached at (818)923-5302, (310) 709-5646

or matt@GreenChipIR.com

Communications – What Works, What Doesn’t and How to Improve – Repeat

We’ve spoken often about this topic but I can’t really focus on this enough. It is a crucial subject for any complex undertaking, whether it is construction or otherwise. Today we’ll focus on 2 aspects – written communication and field discussions.

I’m a reasonably intelligent person, but no one has ever nominated me for a Nobel prize in anything and I doubt anyone ever will. I’ve won hundreds of wars and thousands of battles from diligence, persistence, good communication and organization and precisely none due to brilliance or a perfect memory. I mention this because organization and written lists are vitally important. No one can remember everything.

Ben Franklin said, “The faintest pencil is better than the sharpest memory.”

If you don’t write things down, they effectively don’t exist. If one doesn’t commit thoughts and agreements to paper or email, they may as well not have occurred.

No matter how smart you are, unless you have total recall (some people do – I am not one of them), you must write things down for them to be completed.

So, please remember the following two thoughts, which will serve you well.

Point 1: If you have discussions with anyone in the field (project manager, owner, salesperson, mechanic, inspector) and review several items, someone should be taking notes. If no one writes anything down or enters it into a tablet, assume that over 50% of what is discussed will be forgotten, remembered incorrectly, or misunderstood upon later reflection.

Point 2: Stop texting novels and long lists of worries, thoughts and ideas. If it takes more than 140 characters in a normal text message, don’t text.

Use email like an adult, or type your thoughts into a document and fax it if you don’t like email. If neither of those methods works for you, write your concerns and thoughts in longhand with pencil and paper and send it snail mail.

Teenagers, college students and immature people rely on texting as their primary method of communication. This does not work in real life. The founding fathers didn’t text their thoughts at the Constitutional Convention in 1776, and neither should you about your project in 2017.

Lesson: If you care about your project, reduce your thoughts to writing and email or fax them to your builder so they can be addressed correctly

Remember – if you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.

If you do write it down, and present it to your professional for comment, it will be taken in, categorized, disseminated through the organization to the proper people and (most importantly), followed up upon.

Summary: If you have concerns, questions or comments, write them in a 1-2 page email and send them to your builder to address.

Telling a project manager in the field a list of concerns serves little purpose. You are focused only on your 5 items. They are focused on the 1000 items needed to complete your project and others. If you don’t see him or her commit your conversation to paper, assume it didn’t occur and don’t expect that your items will be addressed.

New Dream Homes Team Member – Welcome to Lou Obsuth, Owner of Jersey Proud Modular

We have a new team member at Dream Homes who we’ve brought on to help us develop our modular home business as well as address many of our clients’ needs in northern Ocean county. We’ve been speaking with Lou for the last 2 years and he finally decided to fold his remaining construction operations into Dream Homes and come with us full time. Again, I’d like to welcome Lou to the Dream Homes family and really look forward to working together with him. Lou is a Point Pleasant resident for over 20 years and has successfully run Jersey Proud Modular with an office on Bridge Avenue for the last 8. He has a wealth of experience in modular and elevation construction, as well as sales and marketing and we’re glad to have him aboard. If you come to our next Rebuilding Seminar on June 14th, you can meet him.

General Resource – Consumer Protection: Kathleen Dotoli, Esquire is a workers’ compensation and disability attorney in Toms River and speaks regularly at our Rebuilding Seminar. Kathy gives an excellent presentation about consumer protection which is filled with great information to save you money and grief. (Next one is this Wednesday, June 14th, 2017). Email Kathy at kmdotoli611@aol.com or call her office at 732 228 7534 for a copy of her seminar presentation.

New Blog Development – Easier for you to read and use for reference –

We added some specific Pages on the main page, including References, Definitions, About Dream and Photos/Videos. Result: blogs can be shorter and more focused and refer you to specific pages. Hopefully it will help you use the blog more easily.

Grand Opening – New Office Glen Kelly Real Estate branch office – 2818 Bridge AvenuePoint PleasantGlen Kelly Real Estate is sharing an office with Dream Homes and handling all Dream Homes inquiries for elevations, renovations, new homes as well as the rest of your real estate buying and selling needs. Stop by with your real estate and construction needs.

Mission Statement and Comment: AT Dream Homes, we’ll help you when no one else will. We regularly handle the messiest, most unpleasant, real estate, construction and renovation situations. We do the projects that few other people can do, and help people finish their projects and get back in their homes. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to proceed, call us and we’ll do our best to help you.

At Dream Homes, we believe that taking on difficult unpopular projects is part of the social contract we have with the community and the Jersey Shore. We’ve never abandoned a client or failed to finish a project – we feel very strongly that it is our obligation to help Sandsters and others in need.

Video & Past Seminars

Photos & Videos – Click on the link below

https://blog.dreamhomesltd.com/video-photo/

Future Homes & Townhomes for Sale: We’re actively working on the development approvals for several properties in Bayville and Forked River.

Dream Homes at Tallwoods: We’ll be offering 13 beautiful new 3 and 4 bedroom single-family homes for sale in the mid $200,000 range in late 2017 / early 2018.

Dream Homes at the Pines: 58 new 2-3 bedroom townhomes, with garages. Anticipated opening in spring / summer 2018.

If you’re looking for new homes this year or early next year, give us a call and we’ll get you information.

2017 Scheduling & Priority projects – Critical dates to remember: If you are stuck in a stalled project for whatever reason (contractor in jail or indicted, bankrupt, lazy, inept, no money, etc.) at least we can help you with a prompt evaluation of your situation. As an additional service to our neighbors in the Jersey Shore community, we do initial consultation and estimates immediately for projects that are stuck in the poop. It doesn’t change what happened to you, but at least you’ll know what’s happening and how to get back on track, without chasing someone for a month to get an initial meeting and then a written estimate.

Timing for permits: Up and down the shore, we’re running 4-6 weeks to get through building and zoning Save time – submit zoning as soon as you have the footprint and the stair/entries done even if you’re still working on finalizing your architectural plans. Zoning and Building Departments are separate functions in each municipality. They work together, but can be pursued separately.

Perfect Time for Fall 2017: It is however, the perfect time to start working on a September or October 2017 start. Get agreements signed, engineering and design scope started, and get plot plans and architecturals submitted to zoning for review. There’s no reason you can’t have an approved plan set of plans waiting at the township in July or August, awaiting receipt of your utility disconnect letters. Planning doesn’t cost you any additional money, and the value to you is priceless. This is the type of service that you receive from us, and what you should expect from a good builder.

There’s Real…and then there’s Memorex…What an Estimate and Scope of Work is Supposed to Look Like…  

https://blog.dreamhomesltd.com/2017/01/28/dream-homes-rebuilding-blog-1-27-17-shore-house-lifters-indicted-a-real-scope-of-work-rebuilding-seminar-hometown-hero-rrem/

Click on the link above or call us and we’ll send you a blank scope of work for your reference.

Yeah, We Do That for You… This was an excellent (if I do say so myself) article from the 1/8/17 blog, which received much positive response from many people. If you missed it, go back and read it now at

https://blog.dreamhomesltd.com/2017/01/08/dream-homes-nearly-famous-rebuilding-blog-1-8-17-why-use-dream-homes-yeah-we-do-that-for-you-hometown-hero-award-in-brick-rebuilding-seminar-1-18-16/

Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project: Click on the link below

https://blog.dreamhomesltd.com/definitions/

References & Testimonials – Click on the link below

https://blog.dreamhomesltd.com/references/

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. Whether 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

Note to Sandsters: Though I write this blog and hold the seminars to help guide Sandsters and others through the maze that is any reconstruction project, Dream Homes actually does what I write about. Dream Homes & Development Corp. 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 supervise and manage elevation projects & house moves, demolish and build new homes, and develop and build entire new neighborhoods. In the past 23 years, we’ve completed over 1500 new homes, 190 elevation projects and 500,000 square feet of commercial buildings. 28 of our elevation projects have been rescue projects, where we came in to save a homeowner when someone else left. Dream builds new homes, demolishes existing damaged homes, elevates and move homes, complete additions and renovations and rescues homeowners when their other builder abandons them. We work with private clients as well as Path B clients in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for a free estimate on your rebuilding project.

That’s all for today Sandsters. I hope my words helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.

Regards,

Vince Simonelli

Dream Homes & Development Corp. (OTCQB: DREM)

Dream Building LLC

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

New Home Builder #045894

Home Improvement Contractor #13VH07489000

Office: 314 S. Main Street

Mailing: 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://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

Contractor Fraud · Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · Foundation systems · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County · New homes and elevations in Monmouth County · New Homes and elevations in Ocean County · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Path C · RREM Seminars

Dream Homes Ltd. Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 12-13-16

Hello Sandsters –

Hopefully your holiday season has been good and not too stressful.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged last and I do miss speaking with all of you. Though it takes a bit of time to do it correctly, I miss the writing and wish I made time to do it more often. I think of it like a private conversation I’m having with thousands of people, since over the years, literally hundreds of you have called or written and spoken as if we knew each other well. That’s true in a sense, through the blog.

We have a number of interesting items for you today, not the least of which is a sincere note of thanks to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, for responding to my open letter to her regarding suggested RREM changes. We mention our next Rebuilding Seminar, which is January 18th in the new year. We talk again about foundation systems and options and mention re-opening your insurance claim. We extend a warm welcome to our numerous new clients who’ve chosen to entrust us with their projects and wish a POX on all the folks out there who are defrauding other people – both contractors and homeowners.

 

January (1/18/17) Dream Homes Seminar:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday January 18th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.    We’re holding this seminar for 4 years and counting…

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday January 18th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. We’ll focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We offer engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and help with choosing the right builder or contractor. Please call to reserve a space if you would like to attend since refreshments will be served and space is limited.

 

So, let us begin, shall we? Once more into the breach, as they say…J

 

To begin, let us offer a sincere thanks to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, for her handwritten response and follow up to my letter of early October. While many other politicians and public figures have written thank you notes over the years, Kim Guadagno has consistently proven to be a classy, effective, responsive politician who is certainly deserving of all of our votes if (when??) she runs for governor in the next election. I mentioned in that October blog how she stood in front of 5000 + people at a builder’s convention, in the midst of the greatest economic cluster &$%# in recent history, and offered everyone her cell number to call if there was a problem they couldn’t resolve. Seriously? Who does that? One of the only other people that I know who takes ultimate responsibility for their organization’s actions and behavior is me. Other than that, Kim’s pretty unique.

 

Anyway, I received a handwritten letter, and a follow up call with Dan Kelly from the governor’s office, which ultimately wound up in a conference call to exchange views and suggest improvements to current policy. I felt it was positive and I think Dan did as well. On our end, we got the very clear impression that out input was not only being considered, but evaluated for possible constructive and reformative courses of action. Regardless of exactly what transpires, we got the distinct impression that our input was valuable and Sandsters opinions were being heard.

 

Which leads me into the next recurring subject – fraud, in all of its various and sundry iterations.

 

One of the discussion points which was very interesting was the various phases of fraud which have occurred since Storm Sandy in October of 2012. We’ve certainly encountered our share of nonsense since Sandy and fraud has now been categorized in three phases. Phase 1 was all the happy folks who decided that their vacation and second homes were now primary residences, considering they were suddenly getting divorced, separated or otherwise held apart due to emotional difficulties. That worked for about an hour and many enterprising folks were hauled off to the pokey, and shamed into paying fines and penalties.

Author’s note: One can easily make the case (especially in NJ, land of really high taxes and insurance rates) that trying to get money from the government to renovate and restore your shore house that you’ve been paying insurance and taxes on for about 80 years puts you on the side of the angels. I think the whole discrepancy between that issue and consumer/contractor fraud is really splitting hairs – I think RREM grants should definitely have covered 2nd homes since they were 70% of the affected real estate.

Forgive me, for I digress. Back on point…

Phase 2 was the group of contractors who defrauded all the poor people who suffered tremendously due to Sandy. I have no words for this type of garbage. We have been and continue to help Sandsters and others who have fallen victim to contractor fraud and are stuck with abandoned projects. I’m proud to say that we’re one of the only companies that I know who will step into a half -finished project and bring it to completion. Most builders don’t want the headache or liability.

Meanwhile, many of these folks have been indicted or are under investigation and the RREM fraud task force is starting to rack up some wins for the good guys. It takes time (much too much if you are a victim of fraud) but eventually justice is served in most cases. There are still a few whales out there who are about to be indicted but many, many larcenous contractors have been indicted, prosecuted and banned from the industry.

 

Which brings us to the 3rd wave, which is consumer fraud once again, albeit of a different flavor. I’ve written about this issue in the past and it has become an epidemic.

In simple terms, many homeowners have decided (after adding significantly to their project scope) that they will simply not pay their builder or contractor for extras over and above the RREM grant. This is happening between 10% -15% of the time and is effectively putting many small contractors out of business.

In addition to being unethical, whether it is a RREM project or not, taking money from RREM and not using it for its intended purpose is illegal and opens one up to civil as well as criminal penalties. If it’s a RREM project, it can’t be closed out without a paid lien waiver from your builder. If you don’t finish your RREM project within a certain time, RREM can demand the entire grant back. All of this is unnecessary and not a path on which one should proceed.

In any case, the market (and government) is managing to right itself and cure itself of pretensions, illusions, charlatans and subterfuge. It’s a shame it took 4 years to shake the rubbish out, but it is what it is. It’s not how long it takes to get there, but the fact that one arrives at all that is important.

 

Here we are halfway through my list of subjects and I’ve written 6 pages and 1100 words….perhaps there is some truth to the notion that I can be a bit verbose…

 

So I shall end here, reluctantly, through consideration for my reader’s sensibilities and time available for idle reading, as well as the recognition that blogs should be short (failure!), concise (semi-failure) and informative (success!! Heehee).

 

Today I’ll leave you with the reminder that we are here to help you when no one else will, with the messiest, most unpleasant real estate, construction and renovation situations. We’re doing what no one else is doing, and helping many people finish their projects and get back in their homes. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to proceed, call us and we’ll do our best to help you.

 

Have you been ripped off by Shore House Lifters or any other dishonest contractor?

We are continuing our offer of a $2000 discount to any homeowner who has been left in the lurch by a crooked builder. It’s not a ton of money, but every little bit helps if you’ve been taken advantage of.

 

Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project:

RREM Program Manager: RREM Program Managers DO NOT supervise the construction of your project. You do, as you should, since it is you that is responsible for how the money is spent. RREM Program Managers manage the paper flow for your project, authorize payment disbursements and (try to) lead you through the confusing RREM maze. That’s it. Nothing further.

They do not consult with you on construction process, give legal advice or comment on who you should choose as your builder, or advise if they are competent and stable.

You are the only person responsible to oversee the professionals you hire. A sobering truth, but one worth remembering.

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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above the sea level at the ocean beach. 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.

Footprint: A building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.

Ex: a 1200 square foot ranch with a 240 square foot deck has a footprint of 1440 square feet.

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.

These two items are not the same and you will need both for your project.

HVAC Elevation height in crawl space: This must be considered when planning your lift. This is the elevation of the lowest duct, furnace or air handler in your crawl space. Most townships require a minimum elevation of base flood, some townships have no restriction, and some are at minimum BF + 1 to the bottom.

Design scope: These costs are defined as architectural and engineering fees, all survey costs (survey, plot plan, foundation as built, flood elevation certificate and final survey), soil boring & geotechnical costs, cribbing diagrams, permit fees, soil conservation design, and wind load calculations.

Please note – you do not get $15,000 in cash to spend on your design scope. You get up to $15,000, depending on what your actual costs are.   So if your design costs are $9,200 you get $9,200. If they are $14,000, you get $14,000. If they are $16,600, you get $15,000. The balance of any remaining money in the $15,000 design scope budget does not go back into your grant and you don’t get to keep the extra cash.

If you signed your grant prior to October 1, 2014, you are not eligible for the extra $15,000 in design scope funding. Note: I have seen a number of clients kick, scream & please enough to have the $15,000 added to their grant, even though they had signed before 10/1/14, but that is not the policy.

Contingency costs: This item is part of your grant package and is designed to provide for unforeseen events or conditions that must be corrected in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and finish your project.

These are not mistakes, omissions or errors on your part, your builder’s part or the design professional that did the plans. Rather they are items that are not knowable or evident in the actual structure until it is elevated, or the result of one of the shore townships deciding arbitrarily to change, invent or augment the existing building code. These items include (but are definitely not limited to) rotten or termite infested sheathing, wall studs or sill plates, twisted, broken or rotten girders, site conditions or changes needed to comply with current codes which were not in place when the house is built, upgrades to water pits or valves required by the MUA, installation of hard wired smoke & CO2 detectors, installation of condensate lines to the exterior from the dryer, and a number of other items that we’ve encountered. These items should be itemized by your builder in a separate sheet and submitted to RREM. 95% of the time you will be reimbursed.

There is not a monetary limit to this contingency, although it is generally 5% – 10% of the grant amount. The contingency does not come out of your grant award.

 

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.

 

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

 

Note to Sandsters: Though I write this blog to help Sandsters, 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 supervise elevations & house moves, demolish and build new homes, and develop and build entire new neighborhoods. In the past 23 years, we’ve completed over 1500 new homes, 150 elevation projects and 500,000 square feet of commercial buildings. We work with private clients as well as Path B clients in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for a free 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.

I’m hoping I do at least one additional blog before Christmas, but if not, I wish you good luck, good building and a wonderful holiday!

 

Regards,

 

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Virtual Learning Company Inc.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

New Home Builder #045894

Home Improvement Contractor #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://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9-24-16

Welcome to Fall 2016 – Is RREM Putting Builders Out of Business – Note to our Esteemed Governor Christie… Dream Building $2000 Discount to Fraud Victims – Why Exactly Are We Lifting Our House? Review September Rebuilding Seminar & November 16th Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Getting Accurate Estimates & Courtesy  – RREM Fraud Update – Contractors & Homeowners

 

Hello Sandsters –

A little late, but welcome to fall. In the rebuilding world it is shaping up to be a busy season.

Today, we have a number of items for you. We talk about how RREM (and a numerous dishonest home owners) are putting small contractors out of business, which is a sleeping dog that is starting to bite….We welcome 6 new clients, in the last 10 days! (2 of them are sadly victims of bad contractors). An important item today is a repeat – Why Exactly are we Lifting our Houses? We repeat warnings about committing RREM fraud – on both sides – homeowner and contractor. We give you some tips on getting a good, accurate estimate and remind you of common courtesy. We review our September 14th Rebuilding Seminar, which was simply the BEST EVER! Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is  Wednesday November 16th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

November (11/16/16) Dream Homes Event & Last Seminar Review:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday November 16th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.    We’re holding this seminar for 3 ½ years and counting

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday November 16th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. We’ll focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We offer engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and help with choosing the right builder or contractor. Please call to reserve a space if you would like to attend since refreshments will be served and space is limited.

Note: We are only accepting 15 reservations for the 11/16 seminar, since we’ve discovered that is the ideal number of people for us to offer the best advice and counsel. If you want to come, reserve your space early.

 Once again,  professionals will be speaking.  Kathy Dotoli, who is a worker’s compensation lawyer in Toms River, will also give her excellent presentation on precautions to take to ensure a smooth relationship with your contractor. We’ll have one of our architects or engineers speaking, though we’re not sure exactly which one. This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project so bring your info (or send it to us ahead of time) and get some questions answered.

A special thanks….

To all who attended the September 14th seminar, as well as the fantastic group of speakers we had presenting. It was simply our best seminar ever, and the culmination of 3 years of practice and numerous rebuilding projects.

The comments and reviews we received were uniformly extremely positive and showed clearly that our efforts to bring a diverse professional team to the table continue to be successful. A huge Thank You to Dan Wheaton (architect), Kathy Dotoli (attorney), Tim Ferguson (Hale Built House Raising), Tim Tennis (project manager, northern region), Valerie Jones (VP Human Resources and RREM expert) and Michelle Hendley (office support staff). The combination of input from everyone helped 5 groups of people clearly chart their way towards moving forward with a rebuilding solution.

A warm welcome to our new clients…and new Atlantic County clients! We now have limited space remaining for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.

In the last 10 days, we’ve been retained by 6 new clients and thank you all for your confidence and trust in us at the Dream Homes team!

We’ve also done 8 new client intakes, which is a record for a 10 day period!

We’ve also (after repeated requests for the last 2 years) decided to open an Atlantic County region and start helping people in the southern New Jersey area. Not something we’ve decided lightly, we now have an excellent support team in place and have begin accepting commissions  in Atlantic City, Brigantine, Egg Harbor and surrounding areas.

Now that some of the rubbish has been cleared out, we can focus on helping people rebuild their homes in a timely, cost-effective, efficient manner.

You can read the last few blogs for more detail, but suffice to say, the 2 largest elevation and general contractors in south Jersey (defined as south of Toms River) are not solvent, and generally unable to complete projects.

That is one of the biggest reasons we decided to open up in Atlantic County. The Sandsters of Atlantic County deserve better treatment than they have been receiving. Bring us your tired, your poor, your hungry….and we will fix their houses and make them happy again!

 Note: Schedule your project: The market is heating up again, due to a number of factors (dishonest contractors going bankrupt or being indicted, honest contractors going out of business because of RREM and homeowner fraud, out of state contractors moving back out of state to purportedly greener pastures) so if you haven’t retained a professional for your project, expect delays.

We can accept only 1 additional client into our schedule for a Fall 2016 start, and only 3 more for Spring of 2017. It’s nice to be appreciated and in demand.

If you want to be in for Summer of next year, it’s time to get moving. Stop dithering Nero – Rome is burning.

Have you been ripped off by Shore House Lifters or any other dishonest contractor?

We are continuing our offer of a $2000 discount to any homeowner who has been left in the lurch by a crooked builder. It’s not a ton of money, but every little bit helps when you’ve give someone $60,000 and received only $30,000 worth of work before your builder retired to Bimini on his new boat.

Facts, Facts, Facts – Repeat about Shore House Lifters and others

If you are one of those unfortunate folks who isn’t hanging on my every written word, (can you believe there are still people out there like that??), you missed the last blog, and you’re dealing with, or considering dealing with Shore House Lifters, stop reading this blog right now and click on the 8/14/16 blog for a very detailed warning and caution before proceeding any further with this company. I’m tired of cleaning up their messes. And Price Home Group’s. And G&L Construction. And Axis Builders. And the list goes on and on…Be careful who you are dealing with.

Hall of Shame: If Governor Christie wasn’t kanoodling down in Washington with Mr. Trump….

He actually might be able to work on some issues here in NJ. As it is, we have a Washington Theatre of the Bizarre, and little work being done in NJ. We’re not interesting enough for our Governor, since he can’t be elected governor again (for myriad reasons), is busy putting out Bridgegate fires and is busily planning his next career path.

Thank God Kim Guadagno is doing what she can to help – she is the only person in the current administration that has any idea what the RREM program is supposed to accomplish. Reminds me of a one-armed paper hanger though…only so much she can do. It is difficult soaring with eagles when one is mucking around with turkeys.

Note to NJ Government: The RREM program is, once again, off the rails and heading merrily off into the magic mushroom field.

Is RREM actually causing small contractors to go out of business? Is RREM helping dishonest homeowners to rip off their builders?

Fact #1: RREM through their direct actions is putting small contractors out of business. Their bizarre, Byzantine payment terms, their insane clawback provisions and their incessant change in policy, has made it completely impossible for a 3-5 home a year builder to work for anyone in the RREM program.

Now I am an absolute capitalist and a firm believer in “May the best man – or woman – win”, but when a state sponsored program has an insidious design, which serves to bankrupt small business owners, there is nothing good about that for anyone.

It hurts the economy and it specifically hurts homeowners by removing choices in a free market, and directly causing honest small builders to go out of business in the middle of projects.

Fact #2: RREM through their indirect actions is putting small contractors out of business. They are assisting tacitly in the systemic, continuous perpetration of homeowner fraud, by not requiring payment to contractors for work that has been completed. This is illegal, immoral and truly counterproductive to the macro intent of the RREM program, which is to efficiently rebuild NJ after Sandy, and put people back to where they were before as quickly as possible.

The sad truth is that many RREM homeowners (certainly not all) are deliberately delaying payment, or not paying contractors, over completely insignificant matters. If a homeowner is living in their house with a certificate of occupancy and a homeowner has received their RREM funds and is not paying their bills, they are directly contributing to the insolvency of honest small contractors.

Thankfully, this is not affecting Dream to too great of a degree. We carry no debt and are in a very strong financial position. Out of 160 clients in the last 3 years, we have only 4 people who we’ve had to pursue through litigation. All of them have eventually paid, including legal and late fees. All of them have been audited (FINALLY!) by RREM. All of them are subject to civil penalties. All of them had added significantly to the RREM scope of work and decided they didn’t want to pay for any of their extra work when they couldn’t scam RREM out of the money. 

This is atrocious individual behavior and incredibly bad oversight by the RREM program.

The fact that there is no RREM mechanism to prevent this from occurring is absurd. Instead of fostering competition which leads to better consumer pricing and choice, it has had, and will continue to have, the opposite effect of destroying smaller builders due to nonpayment.

 Again – Why Are We Lifting Our Houses??

I’ve written about this topic many times, but it bears repeating and updating. Certainly, we are not elevating our homes because we want to, need an aggressive home project or have nothing better to do with our time and money.

Repeat: How close did we come to another wicked storm event?…This plays right into, “Why are we bothering to raise our homes (below)?” Click on this link and see more detail below.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/with_hermine_gone_another_bullet_dodged_on_duneles.html#incart_river_index

 

Summary of the main reasons we are elevating, or rebuilding at a higher level:

  1. To avoid or mitigate flood risk.
  2. To save (a lot of) money on flood insurance.
  3. To protect the value of what is (probably) your single largest investment.
  4. To add value to your home by incorporating improvements that will add to the worth of your home. Improvements that add value include (among many others) full height lifts, garages under the house, enclosed space for storage, concrete floors, better views, new or larger decks, and better insulation to create ongoing energy savings.

 

You will also be accepting the inherent risk of living through another significant storm event – your home may flood again. That is a calculated risk. For a working hypothesis, I am assuming another event within 10-20 years with an average of 2’ of water over finished floor, as opposed to the 4’ we experienced with Sandy.

 

Call to Action – RREM Homeowner & General Contractor Fraud – Can DCA/RREM Fix This?

To say that our justice system is broken as it relates to contracting is an incredible understatement. We have much greater oversight in a vast number of other professions, often where much less money is at stake.

Ironically, the process of awarding $150,000 grants with no oversight attached to homeowners is also quite flawed.

(Turns out that the moral of the story is that a certain percentage of people in general are flawed and will steal. One can’t legislate that fact out of existence.)

Summary: 1. Contractors: If you accept people’s money, you should be held to a higher standard, and in any other business other than construction, you are. 2. Homeowners:  If you accept federal and state RREM money, you should treat it the same way you would want your contractor to responsibly behave and not spend the money you need to finish your job on furniture, a pool or a vacation.

 Sandsters, if you take your RREM grant and go on vacation, install a new kitchen, build a new Trex deck, install cultured stone on the front of your house, or do a full height raise with garage and concrete, and don’t pay your contractor, you won’t be able to close out your RREM grant, you will definitely have your entire project file audited, and will be subject to civil and criminal penalties for fraud. We see RREM and DCA eventually catching up with fraudulent contractors and they wind up under indictment. Homeowners are also subject to severe repercussions if they do not pay their contractors and close out their RREM file. If you are living in your home with a CO and have not paid your RREM contractor, you are taking a tremendous chance of having your grant revoked, your file audited and being fined. If you have a valid disagreement with your contractor, escrow the balance of payment due with your attorney and file suit. Otherwise finish your RREM project and get the government out of your life. RREM is finally catching on to homeowners that are holding up $35,000 payments for discrepancies about sheetrock cracks – while moving back into their homes with certificates of occupancy. A word to the wise – don’t come under RREM and DCA scrutiny for fraud.

When contractors behave improperly, they are (eventually) arrested, indicted, fined and go to live in 6’ x 10’ rooms.

When homeowners defraud the RREM program, they are at risk of having to return their RREM grant and are subject to fines and penalties.

Hiring Your Own Architect or Engineer: Pros (none) and Cons (many)

I’ve written about this in the past, and have shared various thoughts. This is an update which reflects my most recent experiences.

The upshot, though a general statement, is that dealing with your own design professional does not save you any money and generally costs you time and stress.

1st, the reality is that the architectural/engineering cost to you is the same (usually less), whether you deal with the professional yourself or retain your builder to handle this aspect of the project.

2nd, you will save yourself a tremendous amount of time, since you will avoid the constant interaction between your professional and your builder. Your builder will handle the professional discussions and break it down for you in simple language you can understand.

3rd, you will avoid excess costs which are incurred when you design your plan with your architect without input from the person who will be building your project. Remember – architects and engineers draw pretty pictures, which sometimes are not the most cost effective methods to achieve your objectives. Sometimes (too often) the plans cannot be actually constructed as they are designed.

Last but not least, if there is an error and you’ve designed your own plan, you’re responsible for your architect’s errors. When you give a plan (that you’ve designed) to a builder to estimate, any errors in the plan are ultimately your responsibility and will cost you money.

Points to ponder, Sandsters. Sometimes we try to save money – and end up stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

Repeat – Partial – Beware of fancy trucks and equipment – You’re paying for it – PRICE HOME GROUP was only one notable example and is symptomatic of many other contractors;

Debt is a killer, Sandsters. Though it is relatively impossible to determine, the amount of debt a company carries on depreciable assets (vehicles, equipment, furniture and fixtures) as well as their fixed overhead, dictates behavior. You can request a balance sheet and income statement but you might not get one. If it’s not audited, it means little anyway.

We have no debt. We own everything outright. We don’t buy new vehicles – ever. We very rarely buy new equipment. We have the same office we’ve had for 14 years. We have low overhead. Everyone rows or we throw them out of the boat. We are not flashy. I may be one of the most boring people on the planet – and my clients like that. We’re quietly competent. We don’t need to impress anyone with anything but our performance.

Ultimately, you want to work with someone who is not taking your deposit to make truck payments, pay high salaries, support a fancy office and dazzle you with nonsense.

What you SHOULD be asking before your hire a builder or general contractor:

The real questions are, “How many projects have you completed?” (We’ve finished 155 in the last 3 years, and over 1500 new homes in 200 + developments in the last 2 decades)

“How many projects are unfinished?” (We have 0 unfinished projects)

“How many clients are suing you for misappropriation of funds, fraud or consumer fraud?” (We have 0).

What is the Difference between Non-Performance & Fraud versus a Difference of Opinion?? Important Repeat:

I’ve written about this in the past several times but the topic bears repeating (over and over) again.

Sandsters, there’s a world of difference between the two above categories. You are well served to understand this difference prior to embarking on a renovation project.

Notwithstanding any of the drivel regularly posted on Facebook, having a disagreement

with your builder, does not mean they are defrauding you or abandoning your project.  Misunderstanding is materially different from contractor fraud, abandonment, mismanagement or incompetence.

 The objective is to complete the project and move you back into your home. It is not about personalities, or who is right or wrong. It is about dealing with, and accepting, that human communication is complicated and fraught with misunderstanding.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – Reader Survey: Do you have any specific topics you would like covered in the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog that I haven’t mentioned? Send me an email or give me a call and I’ll try to include them in one of the upcoming bogs. Construction science is a pretty varied field and there is always something new, whether it is a method, a material or a design technique. Let me hear your questions, especially if it’s an item I haven’t written about.

 Last Look or If you don’t ask, you’ll get nothing: If you are making a final decision and are between 2 builders that you like, where one is slightly more expensive but you like them much more and one is cheaper but you have concerns over him,

Ask the builder or contractor you like and want to use to meet your proposed budget number or the other written estimate.

I recommend this particular technique because it is easier for you. There is less detail and discussion about particular pricing and ultimately you don’t really want or need to know all the whys and why nots and details of a particular estimate.

If your first builder choice can meet the price you need or at least the other valid estimate from another contractor, that’s good enough for you.

Anyway, you have nothing to lose by asking your 1st choice builder to meet your budget number.

That being said, your builder choice should also:

1) Have an office that you can visit

2) Has been in business for long enough time to have learned how to do what you are contracting for

3) Have completed numerous projects similar to yours

4) Have current insurance and licensing and

5) Not be asking you for a huge non-refundable deposit up front.

This category, as well as worker’s compensation and social security disability, is something Kathy Dotoli, who is an attorney in Toms River, covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar. Feel free to call her directly at 732 228 7534 for further discussion. Come to the seminar or call us and we will send you the handout.

Signing Blind Contracts – PLEASE STOP DOING THIS SANDSTERS!!

If a builder or contracting is asking you to sign a contract with a non-refundable deposit, without plans or a defined scope of work, be careful. If an estimate is based on a set of assumptions which turn out to be inaccurate, you should have the right to cancel the contract and have the unused balance of your deposit returned to you.

Further detail in past blogs.

Repeat: Does Anyone (Carpenters, laborers, helpers, contractors) Really Want to Work Rebuilding New Jersey?  We run 7 crews for our elevation projects and 3 crews for new home construction and we’re constantly hiring (and firing!!) at least 2 new people a week. We’re one of the best builders out there (we pay promptly and are very honest) and always have room on our team for the right people, but good people are 1 in 10 at best. If you are competent and positive and looking for work or know someone who is, give them my email or phone number and have them call me.

New Townhome Announcements: Some great news for Sandsters on the new home front – we’re planning an 88 unit town home waterfront community locally which will open at the end of 2017 and be very affordably priced.

 Facebook: Please visit us and like us on Facebook! I am a social media illiterate but thankfully there are some great people on the Dream Team that are Facebook addicts and will communicate with you on Facebook 25 hours a day…

 Dream Homes – Satellite office – 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant:

Dream Homes has been so busy in the Point, Brick, Manasquan area in the last year that we recently opened a branch office for client service, sales and construction at 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant. You are welcome to bring your surveys, plans and paperwork to that location if it’s easier than scanning, faxing or bringing documents to our main office on Rt. 9 in Forked River. Please call us for hours if you want to visit this location.

 Tip – Follow the Nearly Famous Blog: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go the blog and “follow” it directly. Some times I don’t send email alerts when I blog. If you “follow” the blog you will get an email reminder whenever I post. We’re also on Facebook if you want to Friend us or post a comment.

Stop FEMA Now Association: We’re a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now  which is an excellent organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters (as well as other states) from FEMA tyranny. To get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is HYPERLINK “http://www.stopfemanow.com” http://www.stopfemanow.com

New development: Dream Homes Mobile Web Site is now Live!

You can now log onto “http://www.dreamhomesltd.com” http://www.dreamhomesltd.com from your mobile device and see a mobile site tailored to a smaller screen.

 Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project:

RREM Program Manager: RREM Program Managers DO NOT supervise the construction of your project. You do, as you should, since it is you that is responsible for how the money is spent. RREM Program Managers manage the paper flow for your project, authorize payment disbursements and (try to) lead you through the confusing RREM maze. That’s it. Nothing further.

They do not consult with you on construction process, give legal advice or comment on who you should choose as your builder, or advise if they are competent and stable.

You are the only person responsible to oversee the professionals you hire. A sobering truth, but one worth remembering.

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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above the sea level at the ocean beach. 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.

Footprint: A building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.

Ex: a 1200 square foot ranch with a 240 square foot deck has a footprint of 1440 square feet.

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.

These two items are not the same and you will need both for your project.

HVAC Elevation height in crawl space: This must be considered when planning your lift. This is the elevation of the lowest duct, furnace or air handler in your crawl space. Most townships require a minimum elevation of base flood, some townships have no restriction, and some are at minimum BF + 1 to the bottom.

Design scope: These costs are defined as architectural and engineering fees, all survey costs (survey, plot plan, foundation as built, flood elevation certificate and final survey), soil boring & geotechnical costs, cribbing diagrams, permit fees, soil conservation design, and wind load calculations.

Please note – you do not get $15,000 in cash to spend on your design scope. You get up to $15,000, depending on what your actual costs are.   So if your design costs are $9,200 you get $9,200. If they are $14,000, you get $14,000. If they are $16,600, you get $15,000. The balance of any remaining money in the $15,000 design scope budget does not go back into your grant and you don’t get to keep the extra cash.  

If you signed your grant prior to October 1, 2014, you are not eligible for the extra $15,000 in design scope funding. Note: I have seen a number of clients kick, scream & please enough to have the $15,000 added to their grant, even though they had signed before 10/1/14, but that is not the policy.

Contingency costs: This item is part of your grant package and is designed to provide for unforeseen events or conditions that must be corrected in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and finish your project.

These are not mistakes, omissions or errors on your part, your builder’s part or the design professional that did the plans. Rather they are items that are not knowable or evident in the actual structure until it is elevated, or the result of one of the shore townships deciding arbitrarily to change, invent or augment the existing building code. These items include (but are definitely not limited to) rotten or termite infested sheathing, wall studs or sill plates, twisted, broken or rotten girders, site conditions or changes needed to comply with current codes which were not in place when the house is built, upgrades to water pits or valves required by the MUA, installation of hard wired smoke & CO2 detectors, installation of condensate lines to the exterior from the dryer, and a number of other items that we’ve encountered. These items should be itemized by your builder in a separate sheet and submitted to RREM. 95% of the time you will be reimbursed.

There is not a monetary limit to this contingency, although it is generally 5% – 10% of the grant amount. The contingency does not come out of your grant award.

You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link HYPERLINK “https://mail.foxmoorhomes.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=k5TFzkRAAkGU8ZY4NsMK_eZZ0s4wMNEI4fjCWNZ1F5euRIUWkyL5Y3FT1L0r7zXdkG1ZrUuQQlA.&URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.youtube.com%2fchannel%2fUCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg” \t “_blank” 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.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

Note to Sandsters: Though I write this blog to help Sandsters, 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 elevate & move homes, demolish and build new homes, and develop and build new neighborhoods. In the past 23 years, we’ve having completed over 1500 new homes, 150 elevation projects and 500,000 square feet of commercial buildings. We work with private clients as well as Path B clients in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for a free 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.

Good luck and good building!

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

New Home Builder #045894

Home Improvement Contractor #13VH07489000

PO Box 627

Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: HYPERLINK “mailto:vince@dreamhomesltd.com” \t “” vince@dreamhomesltd.com

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Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · Foundation systems · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County · New homes and elevations in Monmouth County · New Homes and elevations in Ocean County · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B

NJ Home Show This Weekend & ICC Funding

Hello Sandsters –

Hope you are well and not frozen.

See the below video with detail about the NJ Home Show this weekend and some information about ICC information.

Take care Sandsters and I hope to see you this weekend.

Foundation systems · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County · New homes and elevations in Monmouth County · New Homes and elevations in Ocean County · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Seminars

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 12-5-15 – January Event Schedule – The Incompetence of Bricktown – New FEMA LIMWA Regs – Common Courtesy – Avoiding Paralysis Through Analysis

Hello Sandsters –

I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying your Sunday.

In today’s blog, I’ll talk again about the change in the codes for Coastal A zones, since that’s a hot topic which is affecting many people. We’ll talk about Brick Township and their continued incompetence and refusal to move forward in a meaningful way with rebuilding. We’ll try and touch on helical piles and 2 different methods of using them in your foundation but that probably will happen in the next blog. We’ll post a repeat of the Paralysis through Analysis section and try to encourage you to get past mental stumbling blocks. We’ll remind you to be considerate of others during your rebuilding efforts. Finally we’ll list 2 upcoming events, including our next Rebuilding Seminar as well as the NJ Home Show, both in Toms River in January.

Zone Change and Acting Quickly: We’ve said it in the last 3 blogs and I’ll probably repeat it until 3/1/16. If you’re in the Coastal A zone and thinking about when to move forward you should get started now to save yourself a significant amount of money. Get your permits (either obtained, or at least submitted, depending on your paranoia level) before 3/15/16 or else you’ll be forced to raise your house on pilings, as opposed to being permitted to raise on concrete block.

This is an important issue, which will hit many Sandsters in the pocketbook if they are not aware.

These new UCC updates are in effect now, but we are within the 6 month grace period. They are scheduled to be mandatorily implemented on 3/15/16, but if you have your permits submitted by that time you are grandfathered and not subject to the new requirements.

What that means in English is that if you are in a Coastal A zone, you will not be allowed to build or elevate on concrete block, but will have to use a deep foundation system such as pilings. 

The update to the UCC (uniform construction code) says that all homes in the Coastal A zone will now have to adhere to V zone construction standards. Until now, this has been a voluntary choice, as opposed to a requirement.

Some additional notes from our last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar:

  1. If you do pour a slab under the house, it can’t be reinforced, or tied into the pilings or foundation
  2. There is now a $250 surcharge on insurance for second homes
  3. 2”x4” exterior walls are no longer allowed – minimum 2” x 6”, with R-19 vs R13 insulation.
  4. When moving a house into the street, you must leave a minimum of 18’ clear traffic way
  5. You will be able to build a maximum of 300 sq ft in the flood area below the house before your flood insurance is affected. You can enclose a greater space but expect to pay a higher insurance premium.
  6. Everything on the first level is considered “sacrificial” which means FEMA won’t pay for it.
  7. Breakaway walls are required beneath the flood plain.

As always, if you can move your house and demolish your foundation, you can drive timber piles for your foundation structure. If you don’t have room to move your house, either on or off your property, you will now be forced to use helical piles as a foundation structure. Your costs will increase substantially.

Again, see the 11-8-15 Rebuilding Blog for more detailed information.

As always, call 732 300 5619 or email me at vince@dreamhomesltd.com with any questions.

Upcoming January Events – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 & NJ Home Show – January 22-24 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River:

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 6 pm at the Tuscany Bar & Grill restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. It’s a great way to start the New Year and get ready for your project to start in the spring. As we have been doing, we’ll focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We’ll offer engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. We’ll be in the Fire Room, which is a great indoor/ outdoor space with a fire pit in the center.

If you haven’t been to a seminar in this space, try and make it. It’s a room that’s great for conversation and discussion. This time, we’ll have Tim Ferguson from Hale Built House Lifting, as well as Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and me.

Exhibit Schedule: We’ll also be exhibiting at the NJ Home Show on January 22-24 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River. This is a great opportunity to meet our professional team, since there will be plenty of time for discussion specific to your project. We’ll be scheduling appointments throughout the show so give us a call and bring your plans and surveys for comments and suggestions.

Consideration & Common Courtesy: It’s always been an occupational hazard in any professional service business to complete estimates for potential clients, only to find that you weren’t being seriously considered for the work. I thought I would write a few sentences about this topic, since many (most?) people aren’t aware of the costs and details of preparing a real estimate.

On average, it takes no less than 3 hours to complete a detailed, accurate estimate and costs in the neighborhood of $200 – $250. This includes a visit to the site, as well as several hours studying plans, surveys, borings and other information. As I said, many people are not aware of this, and might behave differently if they were. So here are some notes to Sandsters who care about being considerate of their fellow man. Out of courtesy, if you have chosen a builder or contractor, and just want to verify that your project is priced correctly, tell the other builder or contractor that fact and ask for a courtesy consult. Most people in any professional service are glad to give you an opinion on the proposal you are considering in the hope that you will consider them in the future. A pricing opinion takes 10 minutes, versus the 3 hours that an estimate entails. The other thing you are accomplishing by being honest with the contractor you are considering, is that he or she will be able to properly devote time to people who really need construction services and haven’t chosen a builder. Treating people how you would like to be treated is a decent thing to do, and gives other people who are trying to get estimates the chance to receive those estimates.

Likewise, if you have received 3 or more estimates, and are still speaking with other people, out of fairness, make sure you share this information with your next potential builder. I will always ask, “What has held you back from finalizing an agreement with these other people?” If there is a legitimate reason for not proceeding with another contractor (often there is), we will estimate the project. If not, we’ll usually pass. We don’t need practice doing estimates – since we don’t charge for estimates and they are involved, we try to focus on Sandsters who really need our services.

Building Departments & Zoning issues – Brick Township Consistently the Worst!!:  I’ve written about this issue so often, it should be its own blog.

I have decided that I am now going to devote my life to exposing Bricktown as the incompetent progress averse group of folks they are and campaigning for change in the process. Question for Brick – are you folks splitting the atom or just reviewing building permits so we can rebuild our homes? Do you have to look on the Holy Face of God for inspiration or simply review our applications to make sure we’re at least one foot above base flood elevation?

For me to call out these townships is a strong statement – for them to continually delay this process is absolutely unconscionable.

Brick has no concern with expediting the rebuilding process – their only concern is protecting their jobs and not getting the state inspectors mad at them. Truth.

As a note, I am not that guy – I am always polite, pleasant, courteous and give people, companies and townships (too much!!) the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want to grandstand – I like to be left alone to do my work. I’m done with that nonsense, where building departments are concerned. It’s getting me nowhere. Nothing is changing.

As a suggestion, I have a lazy, incompetent Chihuahua who could do a fine job staying out of the way of people who are actually doing productive work. He needs no benefits and will work for table scraps and a dog bed in each room.

After wasting the time last year to meet with the Joanne Bergin the Business Administrator, Township Engineer and Dan Newman, the building inspector, and seeing no substantive change in process or procedure, we will now devote our efforts to direct communications and complaints to the DCA, Mayor Ducey, the Lieutenant Governor of NJ and all of the local papers. If Brick’s position is to blame the state for the fact that building permits can’t be issued in a timely fashion, let’s get the DCA involved to see if that’s the case. Let’s ask Lt.  Governor Kim Guadagno to explore the matter (our fine Governor is off somewhere diligently losing the presidential primary and ignoring NJ) and bring some resolution.

I am now convinced that building departments in the Sandy affected towns of Brick and Toms River are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit and inspection process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary.

Let’s all say it together – the LAW in the State of New Jersey  is that all building permits will be approved or denied within 21 calendar days or submission and building inspections shall occur within 72 hours of being called in and accepted. Permits are supposed to be approved or denied within 21 days – not 4 months.

Just to clarify in case you were watching a Seinfeld rerun, that’s not my opinion, that’s the law.

It’s not arbitrary, subjective, or subject to interpretation. It’s also quite easy to understand, assuming you have access to a calendar and can do basic math.

Next time you’re caught speeding, explain to the fine officer that your township has been Sandy affected and therefore you are not subject to the same strictures as the rest of the common folks. Let me know how that works out for you.

Think I’m annoyed? You bet I am. You should be also.

Let’s all start picking up the phone and calling the DCA (Department of Community Affairs) when our permits are held up. We’re paying our towns for permits and inspections – we should receive the service we are entitled to.

How many other projects are being unnecessarily delayed because of bureaucratic nonsense? If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the DCA and complain. Eventually something will change. Heck, most of the ridiculous RREM policies were changed after enough people yelled and screamed about them (and I wrote incessantly in this blog.)

Grrrrr…..isn’t this process difficult enough? Shouldn’t building departments be working with us and not against us? Isn’t it in everyone’s best interests to move the process along? How are the tax ratables going to be restored to pre-Sandy levels if building is delayed because permits and inspections take twice as long as they should? We have 32,000 houses to rebuild and last year we pulled 1200 permits. At this rate, I’ll be collecting social security before we get close to finishing.

Sandsters are getting really tired of being treated like we’re  an annoyance. We’re paying their salaries and it’s time they started realizing that – and high time we started reminding them quite loudly

Dream Homes – New satellite office – 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant:

Dream Homes has been so busy in the Point, Brick, Manasquan area in the last year that we recently opened a branch office for client service, sales and construction at 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant. We’re still in the process of fitting out the front reception area, but you are welcome to bring your surveys, plans and paperwork to that location if it’s easier than scanning, faxing or bringing documents to our main office on Rt. 9 in Forked River. Please call us for hours if you want to visit this location.

Paralysis through Analysis – Stepping Over Dollars to Pick up Pennies: Part II: This is a partial repeat from last week, and previous blogs. If you have been waiting for a long time to get started and aren’t exactly sure of the reason, this section deserves your review and consideration.

Simply put, don’t worry so much about getting it perfect, because you might not ever get it done. 99.44% of the time, “good enough” is more than good enough and not proceeding with a “good enough” solution will eventually yield you less of a result than just getting started with a good enough solution and adjusting as you go along.

We’re overloaded with information and that has caused us to fear that a “better, stronger, faster, cheaper, smarter” solution is another click, conversation or estimate away. That mind set can cause one to spend 2.5 years evaluating a 100 day project. That’s the issue that Sandsters who are stuck need to focus upon to move forward on their project.

“Ready, Fire, Aim” is another way of looking at it. Shoot, adjust your aim, shoot again, adjust for conditions, shoot again. The first shot isn’t perfect, but you are moving forward and adapting as you go.

A good point to remember is that there are a number of correct solutions or courses of action in any multi-variable chaos equation, such as a home elevation project. The chances are that your choice is just fine, although inevitably in life, the grass is greener somewhere.

The point is not just to behave foolishly and not think at all about what you are doing, but rather to achieve a

balance somewhere between thoughtful consideration and the analysis required for astrophysical theory. That will enable you to pull the trigger and get started, with the understanding and knowledge that you will constantly adjust to changing conditions as you move through your project.

If you wait to achieve “perfection”, you will never begin.

RREM Update – Detailed ECR (estimated cost of repair) with pricing: From the 10-23-15 Blog…If you haven’t received this from your PM, ask for it. Go back and check the 11/1/15 blog for detail.

Design work and timing: Winter 2015, Weather Delays & Pouring concrete in the winter: At this point, if you have submitted or are submitting plans to your local building department, you will be lifting in late January or early February. Depending on what type of foundation you are using, you may encounter slight delays due to extreme cold.

For some additional notes on building in the winter review some of the blogs last year, where we spoke about pouring concrete in the colder weather. With the addition of calcium hydroxide (anti-freeze), you can pour concrete as long as the temperature is 25 degrees and rising. Here in NJ that generally takes us into January, at which time the weather can be hit or miss until mid-March.

Contingency funds vs. Design scope funding:

I’ve written and spoken extensively about this item but Sandsters are continually confused about it, so I’ve started to include it below in the glossary of definitions which is a part of each blog. See below for more information.

Tip – Follow the Nearly Famous Blog: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go the blog and “follow” it. Some times I don’t send email alerts when I blog. If you “follow” the blog you will get an email reminder whenever I post. We’re also on Facebook if you want to Friend us or post a comment.

Stop FEMA Now Association: We’re now a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now  which is an excellent organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters (as well as other states) from FEMA tyranny. To get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is www.stopfemanow.com

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.

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.

Footprint: A building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.

Ex: a 1200 square foot ranch with a 240 square foot deck has a footprint of 1440 square feet.

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.

HVAC Elevation height in crawl space: This must be considered when planning your lift. This is the elevation of the lowest duct, furnace or air handler in your crawl space. Most townships require a minimum elevation of base flood, some townships have no restriction, and some are at minimum BF + 1 to the bottom.

Design scope: These costs are defined as architectural and engineering fees, all survey costs (survey, plot plan, foundation as built, flood elevation certificate and final survey), soil boring & geotechnical costs, cribbing diagrams, permit fees, soil conservation design, and wind load calculations.

Please note – you do not get $15,000 in cash to spend on your design scope. You get up to $15,000, depending on what your actual costs are.   So if your design costs are $9,200 you get $9,200. If they are $14,000, you get $14,000. If they are $16,600, you get $15,000. The balance of any remaining money in the $15,000 design scope budget does not go back into your grant and you don’t get to keep the extra cash.  

If you signed your grant prior to October 1, 2014, you are not eligible for the extra $15,000 in design scope funding. Note: I have seen a number of clients kick, scream & please enough to have the $15,000 added to their grant, even though they had signed before 10/1/14, but that is not the policy.

Contingency costs: This item is part of your grant package and is designed to provide for unforeseen events or conditions that must be corrected in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and finish your project.

These are not mistakes, omissions or errors on your part, your builder’s part or the design professional that did the plans. Rather they are items that are not knowable or evident in the actual structure until it is elevated, or the result of one of the shore townships deciding arbitrarily to change, invent or augment the existing building code. These items include (but are definitely not limited to) rotten or termite infested sheathing, wall studs or sill plates, twisted, broken or rotten girders, site conditions or changes needed to comply with current codes which were not in place when the house is built, upgrades to water pits or valves required by the MUA, installation of hard wired smoke & CO2 detectors, installation of condensate lines to the exterior from the dryer, and about 50 other items that we’ve encountered. These items should be itemized by your builder in a separate sheet and submitted to RREM. 95% of the time you will be reimbursed.

There is not a monetary limit to this contingency, although it is generally 5% – 10% of the grant amount.

The contingency does not come out of your grant award.

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.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

Note to Sandsters: Though I write this blog to help Sandsters, 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 clients in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for a free 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.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

New Home Builder #045894

Home Improvement Contractor #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://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

Calendar of Events – Join Us: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar, 6 PM January 13, 2016 at Tuscan House in Toms River.

NJ Home Show – January 22-24, 2016 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River.

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · House raising and Moving · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Renovations

Dream Homes – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 6-7-15 – Stop Getting Ripped Off – 10 tips – FEMA & RREM Claims – RREM Rebuilding Seminar – 6-25-15

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

6-7-15

Hello Sandsters and Happy Sunday!

Today we tell you how to Avoid Being Ripped Off, remind you about filing for new FEMA claims, and touch on the latest contemplated RREM lunacy about performance bonds. We have some RREM news, with a link to an article in the Press. We talk about the next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which is Thursday night June 25th at Tuscany House restaurant in Toms River, which should be interesting, since we’re adding some wine to our whines. We remind you again about material and labor shortages, and proper planning.

Once again, I’ll try and serve up Brevity in a Blog, since I think that helps Sandsters the most quickly and effectively. I’m also trying to keep to 3 topics and not go bouncing around on tangents. (Probability of failure:high)

It was also a rough month this week…it’s been 80 work hours and counting and no end in sight. There is an old Zen saying which goes “Chop wood, carry water.” My brother says, “Run longer, sleep less.” To which I add, “Don’t complain.”

Okay, here we go. Let’s roll. We’ve got houses to build, and Sandsters to protect from themselves – and others.

2015-05-22 08.55.33  Some of the projects we’ve just completed.  SAMSUNG

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Getting Started – Thursday 6/25/15:

Our next Nearly Famous seminar will be held Thursday, June 25th at the Tuscany House restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. The theme this time will be Getting Started, and we will focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. (I’m finding that Rebuilding mimics life – starting things can be mind-numbingly difficult and actually pulling the trigger on their project is a main issue holding many Sandsters back.)

At this seminar, we’ll focus on working with people who need engineering or architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. I can comment and help people in the active stages of construction either online, through email, text, or phone, but the Sandsters that are just getting started are the people that most need a team of professionals answering specific questions in person.

We’ll start at 6 and be in the Fire Room, which is a really cool outside space. Our speakers will be Kathy Dotoli, Esq., and Scott Lepley or Jeff Barton, architects. I will moderate and discuss RREM and general construction issues at this seminar. George Kasimos from Stop FEMA Now may also speak regarding current FEMA news and to discuss the details about RREM reopening claims due to fraud.

It should be a great seminar in a relaxed environment and as always we’ll try and clear up rebuilding confusion. Soft drinks, beer, wine and pizza will be served and it should be interesting, and maybe some fun. If it works, we’ll have a new favorite place for our Nearly Famous seminars …J

In the meantime, send me an email or give me a call at 732 300 5619 and let me know your interest in attending. Space in the outside Fire Room is limited to about 30 or so people.

FEMA Insurance Scandal & Reopening Claims: Time is running out – Don’t leave money on the table

Letters have gone out to ALL policy holders who made a claim for Sandy damages. You have 60-90 days to respond initially after receiving your letter, if you want to reopen your claim. I had an exhaustive list of bullet points in the last blog, and encourage you to reread it if you haven’t already. Here is a decent article to view.

View full article here http://www.app.com/story/news/local/monmouth-county/sandy-recovery/2015/05/07/sandy-fema-claims-letters/70939654/

Paying for Work in Place and How to Avoid Being Ripped Off

I’ve gotten so many repeated requests about repeating this topic because Sandsters keep getting ripped off, that I am reposting a previous blog almost verbatim. It’s all about what you are paying for and when you are paying for it.

We’re hearing too many sad complaints from people and hearing too many stories about builders absconding with client’s money or not being able to finish projects because payments are tendered before work is complete. A few bad apples can ruin the whole barrel and it is my continuous personal crusade to root out and get rid of this type of person…no one needs it and it gives the profession a bad name and negative image.

Today’s post is not about the delays in RREM payment and the problems that may cause with your contractor if they cannot move forward until receiving payment, although that is a constantly recurring valid concern. Rather, this post is about how exactly you should tender funds, whether you’ve received them from RREM, insurance or ICC, or you are working with your own money. It’s about the protocol and the discipline of monitoring a project, as opposed to the details regarding where the money is coming from.

As a general rule, smart Sandsters pay for work in place and do not give (large) deposits on work to be done in the future (with certain limited exceptions).

I tell you three times, I tell you three times, I tell you three times.

Repeat that aloud every single day you are involved in funding an active project.

Like many rules, there is a vast amount of flexibility here. Common sense is essential in order to effectively protect your interests, and still keep your project moving forward.

Paying for work in place, that has been inspected by either/both you and the township inspector, is a generally accepted best practice in building and contracting since the beginning of recorded time.

(Note: In all commercial and professional residential construction (as opposed to smaller scale operations, which constitute about 85% of all residential construction work), and for the safest strictest payment behavior, lien waivers should be procured from your builder at each invoice or draw request so you can verify that all subcontractors and material suppliers have been paid on an ongoing basis. This item is required for RREM at the end of your project and is not generally something you should have to deal with throughout your residential project.)

In any case, if your builder is asking for deposits ahead of work in place, you should meet the following conditions or take the actions I list here.

  1. Specifically determine what these advance funds will be used for, before making any significant payment ahead of completed work.

2. Absolutely know and trust your builder, their work and their reputation.

3. Think carefully before you expend any amount greater than 10% of your project cost at any single time, for work not already in place.

4. Thou Shalt Not Rush and Maketh Decisions in Haste When It is Not Necessary.

5. Get at least one other qualified individual in your life to tell you (in writing, whether email, text or letter) that you should proceed. That person can be your spouse if they are capable of dispassionate analysis (and you are comfortable with the possibility of separation or divorce), your attorney, another builder you know, or an architect or engineer. If you cannot find someone qualified who will put their advice in writing, you are probably making a mistake in paying for something ahead of completion.

6. Definitely do not tender advance payment to out of state contractors. Your recourse is limited to actions you can take against their NJ subsidiaries. Specifically, avoid construction companies that fly in from Louisiana.

7. If all else fails, and you are still perplexed, do some legwork and check with the township, Better Business Bureau, and the Departments of Community Affairs and consumer fraud. Contractors who are consistently illegitimate do not last long in NJ. We’re a vocal bunch of Sandsters and spread bad news far and wide.

Chances are, if you follow these simple rules, you won’t make too grievous of an error. If you are in doubt and have no one else to consult, use me as your Phone – A – Friend and I will talk you away from the Paying Ahead Ledge.

However, as with any simple set of rules or protocols, there are many exceptions.

  1. When you sign your contract, you should expect to pay between 5% – 10% of the total project cost. We sign contracts with clients for $1000 if clients are waiting for money, but generally it’s $5000 – $15,000.

5%-10% is not unreasonable, because you have probably been working with your builder for a number of months and developed some type of relationship. There is a legitimate cost to starting design work, ordering and securing contractors and material, and gearing up and staging a project. If you are (inadvertently) dealing with someone who is unscrupulous and is going to steal $5,000 – $10,000, the chances are that with a little due diligence you can determine that before signing a contract.

  1. If your contractor or builder comes to you with a legitimate cash flow concern (“I’m sorry John, but I really have to wait for that first payment for the elevation before I spend another $40,000 on helical piles…I just don’t have the money to lay out…”) and you don’t want to delay your project, and you have a warm, fuzzy, comfortable feeling about the universe, you can go ahead and spend some money and keep moving along.
  2. If you do advance funds ahead of work, because you have satisfied some or all of the above conditions, you should try and tender payment to suppliers when material is delivered to the site. This is actually a very safe, acceptable method of monitoring your project, but very cumbersome and time consuming for you. There is nothing wrong with being on site when material is delivered and paying a supplier directly for it, with the amount being deducted from the total contract.

I can write volumes about proper payment protocols, but that’s enough for today Sandsters.

Finding and Working with Contractors – Beware Out of State companies! – Part IV – Repeat

In the last few blogs, I’ve written an excellent summary of items to consider when choosing a builder and if you haven’t read them, please go back and do so. To again stress an important point, I remind you that pricing will be between 25% – 40% higher when dealing out of state, or with very large contractor/builders. Of specific note is the concern when you are dealing with one of the original approved Path C contractors. They’ve spent the last 2 ½  years giving estimates for RREM Path C projects which are significantly higher than fair market pricing and they’re now finding it difficult to adjust their estimates to the market.

Recent comparisons for projects we have signed, with real numbers: Quoted: $282,000. Dream pricing: $209,000. Quoted: $143,000. Dream pricing: $103,000. Quoted: $128,000. Dream pricing: $88,000.

Be warned. Don’t go bigger than you need and don’t go looking for diamonds on a mountaintop when they’re in your backyard. Caveat emptor.

11 Tips for Good Communications with your Builder – Part II:  If you missed this article in the last few blogs, go back to it and read it now. It’s really useful for effective communication and good to reread.

Much of it talks about being nice to others. Sometimes we forget – You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

Reminder – Repeat: You should not separate the elevation or masonry portion of your project from your entire project scope. These are not items that you should direct yourself, nor will you be able to accurately monitor progress of your project or avoid the inevitable finger pointing if (when) events go awry. You definitely will not save money, though it may appear as if you will.

If you would like to build your own deck, do interior finish like painting, sheetrock and cabinets, or perform some other cosmetic, non-essential service, have at it and save some money. Avoid handling mechanical and structural aspects of your project yourself unless you are specifically qualified and have the time to devote to the effort.

Material and Labor Shortages – Welcome to the New Normal:

Sadly, we’ve all been dealing with material and labor shortages since the winter weather broke, and it will be like this for the foreseeable future.

There is no way around this concern, except to effect better planning and deal with someone who has the resources to bring to the table when material, subcontractors and labor are in short supply. We deal with several elevation, masonry and mechanical contractors in each field and have the flexibility to seek qualified alternates if our first choices are not available. This can save weeks over the life of a project.

Tip: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go the blog and “follow” it. Sometimes I don’t send email alerts when I blog. If you “follow” the blog you will get an email reminder whenever I post. We’re also on Facebook if you want to Friend us or post a comment.

Stop FEMA Now Association: We’re now a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now (www.stopfemanow.com) which is an excellent organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters (as well as other states) from FEMA tyranny. Those folks are doing more to try and protect the interests of Sandsters than all the HUD and DCA committees combined. George and his organization are actually attempting to change policy to improve the situation for thousands of Sandsters and that is an effort we wholeheartedly support. If you want to get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is listed above in this paragraph.

Path C to Path B – Update & Multiple Repeat: A note to Sandsters still considering Path C, “Time is much more valuable than money. Don’t waste one minute of your life on a pursuit (Path C) where the guidelines are completely unclear and subject to change, and your project could take 3 times as long.” Sandsters up and down the shore are still switching from Path C to B, so do not listen to anyone who tells you that you are unable to do so. Call / email me for assistance if you cannot get past this point with your program manager.

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. Hopefully this is helpful to mobile Sandsters.

Design work and timing: Fall 2015. You should be working now on your design scope and scheduling for a September / October start to your project. We currently have a dozen Sandster projects we are starting in the fall – all have either completed or are actively working on their design scope at this time so permits will be ready and plans can be made to secure alternate housing. Besides, there are much cheaper rentals in the fall/winter at the shore.

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.

HVAC Elevation height in crawl space: This must be considered when planning your lift. This is the elevation of the lowest duct, furnace or air handler in your crawl space. Most townships require a minimum elevation of base flood, some townships have no restriction, and some are at minimum BF + 1 to the bottom.

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.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

Note to Sandsters: Though I 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 clients 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.

Stay well.

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://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder