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 - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Seminars

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

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

1-8-17

Greetings and Happy New Year to all …it’s been too long since I’ve last written.

Today I am writing and looking at the snow…which I truly and completely dislike…if we were meant to live in weather like this, we should have been born with fur, methinks…

To start off, I hope everyone’s holiday season has been wonderful. I wish all of you a safe, healthy, prosperous New Year. 2017 is shaping up to be a much better year for many people and I hope you are one of them.

Today, we have a few items of note. As a repeat, I’ve been nominated a Home Town Hero in Brick Township for nice things our great team has done for an unfortunate Sandster, a good guy named Bob Steimle. The ceremony is January 20th, and I even get a Golden Cape, which I will (modestly) wear 24 hours a day for the next 8 years or so. We mention our next Rebuilding Seminar, which is 10 days from now on Wednesday January 18th. Finally I close today with, “Yeah we do that for you” which is definitely worth reading…

January (1/18/17) Dream Homes Seminar – Rain or Shine – Hot or Cold

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday January 18th, 2017 – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.   Provenance & History : We’ve been holding this seminar for 4 years and counting; we are the only company actually bothering to tell you how to intelligently complete an improvement or renovation.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday January 18th, 2017 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.

The seminar date happens to be only 2 days before the Hometown Hero event! That’s right – Dream Homes and Vince Simonelli have been nominated as one of the recipients of the Hometown Hero Award in Brick Township!

Not to repeat great news, but I’m quite proud of the nomination! This award is given in Bricktown to people and companies who do nice things to help people in need. Our great team has helped an unfortunate Sandster – a really good guy named Bob Steimle.

Here’s what happened. Last year we got a call from Hale Built House Raising asking us if we could help a person in need. They explained to us that Bob Steimle had been the victim of fraud – Bob’s contractor had moved his house from his foundation 50 feet into his back yard and disappeared to another state, leaving Bob stranded in a trailer for 14 months. Bob needed help and Hale and Acme Piling joined together to install pilings and move the house back to where it needed to be.

But Bob still needed a builder to complete the project, which is where we stepped in.

The builder who could undertake the project had to understand the construction and financial issues and be able to work within the RREM program’s constraints and Bob’s needs and complete the project. Dream Homes stepped up.

I called Bob, who gave me his information, and told him, “Bob, we’ll help you out.” We scheduled a time to talk further and for me to look at his house. The next day I met Bob and 2 days later I gave him an estimate (he got his estimate in 2 days instead of 2-3 weeks). We signed a contract on the 3rd day, Bob gave us a $500 deposit and we started working.

A short time later, I’m happy to say the Dream Homes team is well on its way to finishing Bob’s house and getting him back home.

Thanks for the kind words and recommendation Bob! I’m happy we were able to help.

The Hometown Hero ceremony is January 20th at 7 pm at Brick High School. I originally thought I would receive a Golden Cape (which I was planning to (modestly) wear 24 hours a day for the next 8 years, other than during times of disaster or civil emergency (or rather, definitely during those dark times) And yes, that is perfectly normal behavior.) but it turns out that it is an ordinary colored cape. That’s ok – I’ll probably still wear it 24/7 so – have no fear – you’ll be able to recognize me on the street since I’ll be the middle age guy with the cape and sandals.

I will also get to give a lengthy, in depth speech (of approximately 30 seconds), which I promise will enthrall the multitudes gathered that evening. Do not miss it!

So please join us on the 20th of January at Brick High School. Go to the Brick web site and sign up for a ticket or just show up!!

All kidding aside, Dream Homes is honored to receive the Hometown Hero award. It represents the spirit of who we are and we hope to embody that every day going forward.

Mission Statement and Comment: We’re here to 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 no one else 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.

Yeah, We Do That For You… Ok, finally, I’m getting to this article. Believe me, Dream is much more diligent delivering projects in a timely manner than I am at blogging regularly. I’ve promised this article for the last 2 months and have not written it until now.

For the last few years, Sandsters have been asking “Why should we use Dream Homes for our project?”. I normally respond with some of my standard replies, but have been thinking about writing them down in a slightly more informal way.

I keep looking at those Geico ads, where Geico compares themselves to the competition and it’s absurd. Comparing us to 99% of every company in this business is like comparing a Yugo to a Mercedes or Joe’s General Contracting to Bechtel. Ridiculous. Dream Homes is so far superior in so many ways to our competition, that it amazes me that RREM doesn’t call us to finish the balance of the buildouts for the RREM grants. It would save a ton of time and aggravation for a lot of people.

Finally, we have parity and supply/demand balance in the market. The crooks are being run out of town on the proverbial rail, and the honest builders (who are actually more scarce than hen’s teeth) are still here, doing responsible business. Now we can choose to work with honest, civilized, pleasant clients and sub-contractors…and choose not to work with dishonest, uncivilized, negative, argumentative folks. Negative people should please go with God…elsewhere. Life’s too short.

Anyway, back at the ranch…here’s why people trust us with their projects.

”Yeah, we do that for you…..”

This is a list of what Sandsters ask us every day about new homes and renovation projects…and the answers we give them…

Q: Do you help us design our project right from the beginning?

A: Yes, we do that for you.

Q: Will you deal with the architect and engineer to create plans and foundation & piling designs? 

A: Yup, we do that too.

Q: How about the surveyor? Survey, plot plan, foundation location, final flood elevation certs?

A..That’s a pain in the ass, but we absolutely do that for you. It makes your project move more quickly when we handle it – and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Q: What about soil boring? Geotechnical analysis? Foundation inspection and analysis?

A: We got that for you. Very few people know what those things are anyway, but you usually need to have them done so we can design a foundation for you. We take care of that when it’s needed.

Q: What do I do about utility disconnect and reconnect? I’ve heard that’s a complete nightmare. My Facebook group says it takes 5 months to get gas reconnected? Can you help me with that?

A: Yeah, we handle that for you. You make the calls for electric, gas and cable, and we handle water and sewer. And although it’s distasteful for us, we talk you through the Facebook Mass Hysteria, which is usually quite inaccurate. Usually anything anyone tells you on Facebook about construction science is false to some degree.

Q: How about the township and building department? Do I have to bring the plans in and meet with people?

A: Yup, we do it. We do all the submissions at the township level, including all building and zoning, from initial zoning application through to final Certificate of Occupancy. This is a lousy part of the deal…but we do it for you. Again, it doesn’t cost you anything – it’s another value added that we bring to the table.

Q: How about costs? Can you think of ways to save me money? Do you suggest alternatives?

A: As it turns out, we’re actually the only company that does that for you. We discuss alternate design ideas for foundation, wall & floor concepts, decks, stairs and entries, with the architect, engineer and other professionals assigned to your project.

We’ll usually save you $10,000 – $50,000 on your foundation design alone, by suggesting alternate means and methods. Yeah, we definitely do this for you.

Q: How about trying to figure out if an improvement I’m considering is worth the investment? Will I get my money back? Is it worth it?

A: Funny you should ask. Again, we’re the only company we know of that does a Cost/Benefit analysis for you for your project. We explain the financial implications of each portion of your project – is your idea a vanity project, a valuable capital improvement or (usually) something in between.

Q: Do you have a specific service or product that you try and sell me, or do you try and figure out the best solution for me and provide what I really need?

A: Again, an excellent question. We are one of the only construction companies that first discusses options and your situation to determine what you want, what you need and the most suitable solution for your situation. It is only at that point, that we will design and tailor a project scope of work that addresses all aspects of your needs – construction, design, cost, feasibility.

Q: I’m worried about signing a contract with a builder or contractor since I’ve heard so many stories about homeowners being ripped off. What do you have to say about that? Can you assure me I won’t lose my money?

A: Yes, as a matter of fact, we can assure you of that. As a matter of fact, we welcome inquiries into our financial strength since our financial condition demonstrates to you that we’re able to successfully complete your project. We’re the people that finish the abandoned projects other people start.

Please review our financials at www.sec.gov Our ticker symbol is VRTR.

Q: I’ve heard about people giving contractors large deposits and then never hearing from them again? What can you tell me about that?

A: We’ve been writing for years warning people about large initial deposits and advising as to how to avoid being victimized. We rarely accept more than a 5% deposit as an initial down payment. We responsibly make sure your funds are used for your project and not spent on anything else. We take care of that for you and keep your investment safe.

Q: Do you know what you’re doing? How many projects have you completed? More importantly, will you finish my project?

A: Yes, we’ll do that for you. We’ve developed and built over 1700 residential homes and 2,000,000 square feet of commercial space since 1993. Most importantly, we’ve never failed to complete a project for a client.

Q: How about dealing with RREM or my insurance company for payment requests and completing my ICC grant paperwork for my insurance company? Also, can you help me deal with my bank, which has an entire other set of requirements?

A: We prepare a special ICC estimate and scope of work for your insurance company to assist you in getting your $30,000 ICC funding. We also help you prepare and submit all RREM payment requests, and help you with final inspections and to close out your grant. We will address funding and draw request issues with you bank for you.

Q: I’m worried about unforeseen events? What if something happens while the project is under way?

A: We’ll handle whatever comes up on your project. Whether it’s a septic tank or well that no one knew about, or work that was done in your home without permits before you bought it, we’ll get you through any issues that arise.

Q: What about if I need work done after you’re finished with the initial project? And what if something goes wrong? Will you be there to fix it? Will you come back to add that room in the garage, that deck we talked about or that new kitchen?

A: We definitely do that for you. Once you’re a client, you can call us in 10 years to change a storm door and we’ll send someone over to your house the next day. At any time in the future, we will come back to your home and do work you may not have been able to do when we were initially there, regardless of the size of the project. We stand behind our work and consider the relationship to be the most important part of our agreement with you. We’ve been building and developing homes in NJ since 1993 and our client referrals and testimonials are the most important part of our legacy.

Q: Will you help me figure out which items I can afford to do now and which I can do later? I’m really confused because I feel like if I don’t do everything at once, I won’t be able to get a CO and move back in my house.

A: Again, we do this for you and very few other companies will evaluate your project like this. We’ll tell you the minimum scope of work that you need to finish your project on budget and move back in, and then we’ll help you choose items that you can afford to do now and those that can be done in the future.

Q: I’m worried about cost overruns and upcharges. I have a tight budget and can’t go over it.

A: We take care of that for you. Unless you change the scope of work by adding items in the middle, we pride ourselves on preparing accurate estimates in the beginning, so you know what to expect and aren’t dealing with any surprises. We never deliberately omit items we know you will need to finish you project, so they can be added later. Many, many builders use this technique to have you sign a contract only to add significant charges once you are stuck in the middle of it and have no choice if you want to finish. We never do this.

Q: I’m worried about communication and being able to reach my builder during the project. I’ve heard about people who couldn’t contact anyone once their project started and had their contractor close his retail storefront and leave town. Do you provide the ability to contact you and will you respond in a timely manner?

A: We do that for you. We’ve owned a building in Forked River for 14 years and we have an outstanding team in the office to respond to your needs. In addition, we’ll communicate with you in the way that suits you, whether it be via phone, text, email or personal visit.

Reminder: If you’ve been ripped off by any dishonest contractor and are stuck, call us and we’ll help you. You may qualify for a $2000 credit towards your project.

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 to help guide Sandsters and others through the maze that is any reconstruction project, we actually do what I write about. 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 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, 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 my words helps you move forward and I hope to see you at the seminar on the 18th. As always, call or write with any questions.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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 - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Seminars

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 8-6-16 – Builder Hall of Shame – September RREM Seminar – Bizarre RREM & FEMA Behavior – Change Orders & Cost Overruns

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

8-6-16

Builder Hall of Shame Blog – Trade Partners – Hale Built – Caution Bankrupt Contractors – September Rebuilding Seminar – Deadbeat Contractors and Warnings – Last Look & Working with your Favorite Contractor-

Hello Sandsters –

Long time no speak. I’ve been getting a lot of heat from my fans (bless their hearts) for not blogging regularly, so you have a double blog here for your bathroom reading.

Here’s hoping your summer (and your building project) is going well.

With any luck, you are not one of the (many, many) folks stuck cleaning up their project when their builder stops work, runs out of money, declares bankruptcy or simply disappears. To say that the landscape is bizarre is a vast understatement.

Today, we have a new one for you – a builder who abandoned a job after 15 months of inaction, waited until we finished the project and then posted pictures of our (lovely) completed project on Facebook (you can’t really make this stuff up). John Cafiero and Axis Builders get honorable mention in the Hall of Shame and the Deadbeat Contractor Category. Again we have bankruptcy cautions you should be aware of, and warnings (repeated) about having multiple contractors work on your home at the same time. We define the term Program Manager, which must be the most misunderstood concept under the sun. We caution you against multiple change orders and their inherent risks to your project in delays and cost overruns. Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is Wednesday September 14th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

September Dream Homes Events:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar –Wednesday September 14th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.

This seminar is going to be great – don’t miss it. We’re giving away a $50 Home Depot Gift Card to a lucky Sandster.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday September 14th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. Once again, 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.

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.

Facts, Facts, Facts

I’ll keep this paragraph brief and stick strictly to the facts, for several reasons. For one, I do not wish to delve into my opinions on the matter or bore you with rhetoric (more than enough of that below). For the second, I don’t want Steve Smith from Shore House Lifters to file suit against me for slander.

Fact: In the last month, we have had 3 clients bring their unfinished projects to us from Shore House Lifters.

Fact: In the last 2 years we’ve had 17 clients come to use with unfinished projects from Shore House Lifters, which we completed.

Fact: In all cases, Shore House Lifters had accepted very large deposits and had left unfinished projects for 6-15 months.

Fact: Shore House Lifters has a very strong contract – to protect them from clients.

Fact: Shore House Lifters payment schedule requires a project to be 80% paid prior to the house being lowered onto a new foundation.

Fact: Shore House Lifters is the only company that regularly underbids us and other reputable companies to be awarded projects. Their projects are bid incorrectly – they are priced too low to be finished correctly in a timely manner.

Those are all facts, folks. My opinions are another story and would be much stronger and decidedly more colorful.

Be advised accordingly.

Final Fact: It’s disheartening to continue to have clients come to us when others have failed them and left them in limbo.

Opinion: For clarity– I want all the good business we can responsibly handle, but I sincerely wish that I never have to rescue another homeowner from a dishonest contractor. No one with integrity wishes to grow their company in that manner. Thank God we’re here to help, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if this type of help wasn’t required?

It takes a Village, or Hire a Team, not a Person

You know, on a side note before I get into other business, a client recently told me how comfortable they were working with us, since they felt that we brought a team to the table and could handle anything that arose during a project. While this was a (very) nice and true thing for them to say, and for us to hear, it illustrates a deeper point about choosing the company who will build or rebuild your home.

It takes a village, folks. You need a good team to bring the ball from one end of the field to the other.

No one performs complicated projects alone. Your builder is the manager, the ring leader, the conductor and the orchestrator of the process. Ideally, behind him (or her) is a qualified talented team of employees, subcontractors, professionals and advisors who all participate and assist in getting a project completed successfully.

If you aren’t getting that feeling when you interview builders, look elsewhere. Your builder doesn’t have to know everything, or do everything, but he needs to be able to draw from a deep talent pool to effectively complete your project.

America is Good – and getting Better! Repeat

This was such a great article in the January 24, 2016 Sunday Star Ledger, that I summarized it in the last blog on 7/3/16. Go back and reread it for inspiration, or better yet, dig up the article online and read that. It makes you proud to be an American.

Deadbeats and Disreputable Contractors – Good Lord, does this song ever change??

Moving on to a topic in the same vein, I bring you today one of the more egregious, absurd occurrences in this rather bizarre business. I mean, we’ve been regularly underbid by builders who later abandon their projects, take their clients money or declare bankruptcy, only to have the poor Sandster contact us in tears to come fix things.

We do that regularly. I should be called The Cleaner. We have 26 active projects and 7 are “rescues”.

Usually they skulk off into the mud like the cretins they are and leave broken houses and lives, depleted bank accounts and manna for the attorneys.

But this is a new one. A builder who abandoned a job in Ship Bottom after 15 months of inaction (Hello John Cafiero from Axis Builders, now working under NJ Home Builder with Daniel Sachkowsky, who is now listed as the owner of Axis, and formerly of several other companies which have gone out of business) posted really nice pictures on Facebook of the wonderful completed project – that we finished for the homeowner after they fired Axis and instituted litigation. The poor woman called us for 8 months in tears while we finished the house next store, while waiting for the Axis shell game to wend its course through her life.

To add to the litany of the bizarre, John and his lovely wife are life coaches as well as being dishonest builders. Outstanding! How about this for some life coach advice, John? Perhaps a quick perusal of the Ten Commandments or maybe just the Boy Scout Motto would be appropriate.

Come on, really? If we must be deadbeats, must we also denigrate the work of decent folk? Is it not enough to steal, defraud, and not perform, without consideration for a person’s life, property, assets or sanity?

I’ve been building and developing for 23 years and in my entire career I have never seen this type of nonsense regularly being perpetrated upon the citizenry.

To say that our justice system is broken is an incredible understatement. How in God’s name can contractors and builders regularly defraud laymen, and not have the immediate might of our judiciary pounce upon them? How many times does one have to steal money from clients before they are not permitted to continue to pursue their craft?

Folks, we have greater oversight in a vast number of other professions. If you are a realtor, you are monitored closely and made to adhere to a code of conduct. If you are an investment professional, you are held to the highest standards of fiduciary conduct (I know – I had a Series 6, 7 & 3 licenses a long time ago). If you are a building inspector, you are overseen by the DCA and must behave in a proscribed manner by a set of rules. If you sell insurance, the department of banking oversees your behavior. If you accept people’s money, you should be held to a higher standard.

Why can people who can’t do simple math in their heads are permitted to accept a 40% deposit on a $150,000 projects without any oversight? (The real question is WHY ARE SANDSTERS STILL GIVING BUILDERS 30%-40% DEPOSITS TO START PROJECTS, but that is another, recurring topic).Why can builders who regularly defraud clients permitted to continue being contractors and accepting client’s money without any requirements as to probity, honesty, performance history or solvency?

It’s pathetic.

Those of you who know me, know that I am absolutely not a proponent of big government, or most government for that matter. I feel that when one is free adult of majority age, one should be permitted to harm oneself however one pleases, without government protecting us from our own foibles. Our government was originally intended to provide for the common defense and maintain a republic where capital crimes were not permitted, and not a heck of a lot else.

That being said, when there is such a ridiculous preponderance of criminal behavior that it becomes a material percentage in an industry, the case could be made that there should be some oversight and guidance, and a barrier to entry that is higher than a $200 yearly fee and production of a general liability policy.

We should absolutely have different levels of home improvement contractor registrations, and they should be dictated by dollar amount. The person building your $4000 deck should not be permitted to accept a deposit for a $150,000 elevation project. They most likely are not capable (in numerous ways) to handle the responsibility.

As they say, while on a rant, stay on it….

How about a simple registry where all building projects over $25,000 must be registered, with the contractor, license number, start (and completion) date and the status of the project are listed? We could put that together in about an hour in our office.

If the builder abandons a project, becomes insolvent or has numerous complaints lodged against them, it is simply noted. An objective reference point, as opposed to a subjective forum (like Facebook).

That way laymen can simply consult the site and see how many times the company in question has sung the same song.

As a new home builder, we have to offer a 10 year warranty on our work, and if there is an issue and it is not resolved, it is a matter of public record, and our license is not renewed. There is no such device for home improvement contractors, nor is there a distinction in the amount or sophistication of various projects. All of this accretes to the consumer’s detriment.

Moving on in the same disgusting path, be aware that dishonest contractors are most often serial misfits. Talk about a sad fact of life. That means that the idiot that took your money took your neighbors last month and will take your other neighbors next month.

It’s true – most contractors who defraud people have done it over and over and over….and over….and over again. It’s like heroin addiction. “Let’s see how many people we can rip off this month!” “How much of a deposit can we get from this client so we can pay our subs for the last job?” “Once we have their money, let them sue us”.

It’s deplorable that we allow serial dysfunction on this level, to this degree, in this monetary magnitude. By my simple calculation, and based on an extrapolation of clients we have rescued over the last 3 years, there is $45,000,000 in fraud out there, whether in the midst of prosecution or simply abandoned due to lack of energy or resources.

That is simply abysmal oversight on the part of our regulatory system. RREM has a fraud fund with a $20,000,000 budget, to assist homeowners who have been victims of fraud or insolvency. The real question is why can’t we be able to access a list of projects that have failed and contractors who are guilty of this behavior?

Aggghhhh. Groan. What pathetic nonsense.

To all of the completely nefarious assholes out there that are taking Sandsters money and leaving their lives in shambles, a scourge and a pox on you, and a wish that karma will visit you with your just desserts. You deserve to be relegated to (at least) the 7th rung of hell in Dante’s Inferno. You are lousy, criminal, vile creatures.

Come pick on me – all 5’ 6” 150 pounds of me. Fight someone who can fight back. I’ll set you straight. Someone has to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Play in the Bigs – leave the innocents off the battlefield. Go out honestly and fight on the capitalist field of battle. Stop stealing money, peace of mind and sanity from innocent people.

It’s tragic Sandsters. We’ve been retained by 4 new clients in the last month, who’ve had their lives ruined by people such as this. BE REALLY CAREFUL WHO YOU WORK WITH.

Onward and upward but staying in the same pig slop.

Beware of fancy trucks and equipment – You’re paying for it – PRICE HOME GROUP is a notable example

The boys at Price Home Group were recently indicted for fraud and misappropriation of RREM funds, to the merry tune of $880,000 from RREM and $280,000 of clients’ money. That’s a lot of spoiled fish.

3 years ago they popped up out of the weeds – an attorney, a salesman and a small remodeling contractor. They decided they were going to (here we go again) open nice new offices, get a bunch of nice new trucks, pay everyone nice big salaries and – most importantly – take a whole big pot of money in deposits for modular homes they were going to build. We know how this worked out.

There are 17 victims named in the indictment. The principals and the company have declared bankruptcy. They had 100+ other clients who were also defrauded in one manner or another. Many houses are sitting unfinished. Many were never even delivered.

Modular builders rarely know how to build or manage a building company. I say rarely as opposed to never because I’ve recently met a good modular builder who actually knows how to stick build and renovate. .That’s a rarity. Most modular builders are order takers.

Side note: 3 years ago PHG called us in and offered us the opportunity to finish a number of their modular homes, since they had sold so many in such a short period of time. (They sold that many because the homes were under priced by $40,000, which took me about 2 seconds to figure out. You can’t sell a house for $100 per square foot when finished cost is between $110 – $120 in NJ. Call me a genius). I went and met with them and said, “Sure I’ll take as many as you want. I’m a production builder. I’ll take 20-30 – whatever you need done.” I asked for a scope of work. 3 weeks later I got a rambling 2 paragraph email listing all the things needed to finish a house. I went to see several of their jobs. I remember coming back to my office and saying, “These guys aren’t going to be around in 2 years. They have no idea what they’re doing”. Chalk up one smart prediction for me – and chalk up 100+ miserable people who had their lives disrupted from PHG.

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.

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.

The real questions are, “How many projects have you completed?” (We’ve finished 145 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).

(Note: we do have several active lawsuits against fraudulent clients, who took RREM funds and decided they wanted to keep them for vacations and new furniture, and have decided not to pay us. Aside from being quite illegal to misappropriate federal funds, this behavior is pathetic and was unheard of prior to Sandy. People who work for their money don’t rip other people off. People who are given money may not be up to the task of responsibly disbursing it, but that’s another subject entirely.)

As they say, while on a roll, stay on it and bring out the cream cheese (actually no one says that since I just made it up, but it is pretty catchy…)

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

I’ve written about this in the past several times but the topic bears repeating.

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

Notwithstanding any of the drivel regularly posted on the evil monster Facebook (although I have to thank FB for making us aware of Dear John Cafiero, since within hours of his post, no less than 8 of our clients alerted us to the fact that since he couldn’t finish any of his own projects, he was taking pictures of ours), having a disagreement

with your builder, does not mean they are defrauding you or abandoning your project.

Avoid drama, take a deep breath and focus on the issues.

Let’s all say this again: You don’t get divorced because you had an argument with your spouse about where to go for dinner. You don’t fire your builder because your interpretation of the trim on the deck is different from his and the contract is vague.

What you do in that situation is behave like an adult, put personalities aside and come to a common ground that everyone might be slightly unhappy with.

(That may be one of the more important take-aways from this blog, other than the cream cheese joke above).

If there are issues to be worked out and personalities are getting in the way of completing the project, do what baseball does (I am not a sport fan at all) and bring in a designated hitter.

I am blessed with a wonderful team of people around me and we regularly designate different people to deal with different clients, as the situation dictates. (Though it may be inconceivable, some people find me annoying. I know, unbelievable right?) Result: We have someone else deal with that particular client (Tim, Valerie, George) and life goes on.

On the client side, sometimes the husband is very difficult and the wife becomes the voice of reason (or vice-versa) and all moves along swimmingly. As my mother used to say, the train gets back on the track.

The result? The project moves forward, which is the ultimate (and only) valid goal. Once a project is done, everyone is happy, harsh words are forgotten and life goes on.

That is materially different from contractor fraud, abandonment, mismanagement or incompetence.

PLEASE Sandsters – learn and understand the difference, and it will serve you well.

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.

Foundation Thoughts: Repeat but Important if you are currently considering options

This is one of the most important (and complicated) topics in rebuilding and one we don’t spend enough time discussing. When you are trying to decide on the best method, there are numerous options as well as varied cost differences.

Without discussing the entire range of options (which is a book in and of itself) I’d like to bring your attention to one design concept which can save you money and help you with some of your exterior finish decisions.

Instead of running a complete concrete block foundation up from your existing block or your new footing, consider partial or full wood framing for your above ground foundation system.

Though it is not a traditional concrete block foundation, wood framing affords different options for interior as well as exterior finished. It also weighs significantly less than concrete block, which may be the difference between constructing a completely new foundation and adding on to existing block.

Wood frame construction for your foundation walls costs less than block (15% – 20%) but must be finished on the exterior in some manner. Concrete block is usually parged with 2 coats of mortar and is in itself a finished surface.

On the other hand, frame walls need either cement board as an exterior sheathing material, need siding extended down from existing siding, or need to have some other wall treatment such as cultured stone.

Summary and take – awayFoundation choices: Frame construction above grade is a good alternative to using only concrete block, and has advantages in weight, but to get a true financial and practical picture of your foundation choice, you have to consider both the inside and outside finishes you will want to use.

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.

Delays – 2 Reasons that cause the Biggest Delays & Biggest Issues:

Excessive change orders and lack of, or slow, payment are the most common causes for project delay.

If you don’t have money on hand to fund your project and are depending on RREM, it’s really important that you keep on your RREM Program Manager about the progress of your payment requests. If you don’t say anything, disbursements take much longer and this can translate to delays in paying your builder, which could slow your project.

See the June 5th blog for more detail.

BANKRUPTCY – FRAUD ALERT –

Alert!! A LEADING NJ ELEVATING COMPANY IN THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE STATE HAS DECLARED PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY WITHIN THE LAST 2 MONTHS.

They are still in operation while reorganizing.

BEWARE. BE CAUTIOUS. WHEN IN BANKRUPTCY ALL EXECUTORY CONTRACTS OF ANY TYPE CAN BE VOIDED IF THE TRUSTEE DEEMS IT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CREDITORS. Your elevation contract is an executory contract and could be voided.

Definition: You can lose your deposit, or money invested if the federal bankruptcy trustee deems the contract invalid for any reason.

Again, in the “I can’t believe these people are not in jail” category, a HOUSE LIFTER at the SHORE (READ BETWEEN THE LINES HERE SANDSTERS) who is a very popular (read: cheap) elevation company, which I have been writing about forever, chose the inventive path of declaring personal (instead of corporate) bankruptcy. They are screwing their clients throughout NJ and under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office – We signed 4 clients in the last month who instituted suit for lack of performance.

BE CAREFUL Sandsters. Make sure the people you are dealing with are representing solid, real companies.

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat – And the Really Interesting Last Look Method that works!

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it bears repeating. See the last blog – this blog is already approaching novel length.

Last Look or If you don’t ask, you’ll get no where: 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 estimate.

I recommend this particular technique for discussion 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 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.

That being said, your 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.

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: Good Advice – Contractor’s Corner – Tips and Warnings about Speaking Directly to Workers and Sub-Contractors on Your Project:

See the last blog – this blog is already approaching novel length.

Repeat: Does Anyone (Carpenters, laborers, helpers, contractors) Really Want to Work Rebuilding New Jersey? Atlantic Northeast Construction is running 6 RREM crews for elevation work 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.

Note: If you are looking for a part time job for which you will not show up, DON’T CALL US.  

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 – 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. 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.

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 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. George Kasimos does a great job and needs your help also. 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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above 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.

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 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, 125 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: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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 and elevations in Ocean County · Pilings · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding · Renovations · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Seminars

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Bloglet – 11-15-16 – Changes in Coastal A zone requirements – Save Money & Submit Plans Now – Paralysis through Analysis – Rebuilding Seminar Recap

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

11-15-15

Hello Sandsters –

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

Today we’ll try something a little different and do a short blog (Bloglet) which I will also post to YouTube for those who dislike reading. People have been telling me for years to do more video of specific subjects that are important as well as action shots of home elevations and general construction. I’m going to try and do that a lot more often since I think I’ll reach many more people than with the written word alone.

Here is the You Tube link. There is a weird static thing happening for about 30 seconds, but otherwise it will save you having to read the blog.

https://youtu.be/0lb3ghDaxfM

In today’s video, I’ll focus on details about the change in the codes for Coastal A zones, since that is a subject which is affecting many people. We’ll talk about how this is insanity – changing the Coastal A zone to require V zone compliance may be a pretty effective way to de-people NJ, at least in the short term. In the written blog below, we’ll repeat the Paralysis through Analysis section and try to encourage you to get past that mental stumbling block. Finally we’ll review the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which was last Wednesday night November 11th at the Tuscany Bistro Bar in Toms River.

Video Blog Section:

Ok, let’s roll. If You Are in the Coastal A zone and on the Fence about when to move forward – Get Started Now and Save Yourself Some Money!

Get your permits before 3/15/16 or else you will be forced to raise your house on pilings, as opposed to concrete block.

Evidently, I wasn’t clear enough about the urgency of this item, since a number of people have commented and complained that it is much more serious that most people know.

This is because part of me does not believe we’ll be stupid enough as a state not to override this change in the building code, and the other part of me always hopes for the best and prepares for the worst.

In any case, these new UCC updates will be a disaster if implemented: They’re 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 in by that time you are grandfathered and not subject to the new requirements.

So that does all this mean to you?

Essentially, 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.

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.

Some additional notes from Scott Lepley, our architect who spoke at our last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar:

  1. The Slab can’t be reinforced, or tied into the pilings or foundation
  2. $250 surcharge on insurance for second homes
  3. 2”x4” exterior walls 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 allowed 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.

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.

The primary issue with helical piles is the cost. Generally, helical piles themselves are 3 times as expensive as timber, but that is not the only factor. With helicals, in addition to the actual piling itself, you need either foundation underpinning brackets (not widely used though they should be due to excellent cost savings) or a reinforced grade beam over the helical piles, which are both quite costly additions.

The summary is that helical installations add about $40,000 – $50,000 to the cost of an average elevation, for a home with a 1500 square foot footprint (a building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.)

The problem is that this additional cost will drive some people right off the edge and literally right out of town.

Unless RREM refines its budgeting for homes in applicable zones to allow for increased grant awards, many Sandsters may choose to vote with their feet. Sandsters of a certain age may choose to not deal with the additional height and additional cost of elevation. Add in the fact that it’s quite costly to live here in the Garden (of Eden) State and if the new codes stay in effect, I predict we’ll see a mass exodus of Sandsters to more friendly places.

Not a happy thought. If you’re in an affected zone, weigh in with your opinion at your township as well as the local office of your state legislator. If implemented, this change will be very bad for New Jersey.

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

Here is the link to a good, short article about the new codes:

http://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-jersey-state-s-new-construction-code-provides-stricter-building-requirements

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 – Recap:

Our Nearly Famous seminar was held last Wednesday, November 11th at the Tuscany Bar & Grill restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. It was excellent and a big help to those who attended. As was the case with the last seminar, our theme was Getting Started. We focused

on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We offered engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. We spent a lot of time talking about the new code changes for Coastal A zones.

We were in the Fire Room, which is an indoor/ outdoor space with a fire pit in the center. We had Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and myself.

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 – Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees!: I’ve written about this many times in the past, but it is so important that I am once again mentioning it for your 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.

As a society, the preponderance of information 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 and that is the issue that Sandsters who are stuck need to focus upon to move forward on their project.

Example: Sally Sandster is obsessing over detail for her project and has spent 15 months in search of the elusive Holy Grail of Perfection. She is desperately trying to save that last 5% and is sure you can. She’s able to get estimates (finally!!) which show the cost structure she was looking for. However, in the meantime material and labor costs have risen 8%, the contractor she preferred is 5 months out and the codes have changed so she has to redo the engineering. Net savings (cost) on a $125,000 project: Negative $6500.

So you can be a wizard at costing and checking and making sure of everything you can think of, and still lose money on your project. Put another way, you can be absolutely right when you walk across the road, and still get run over by a truck. Sometimes it is the “unknown, unknowns” that cause us to fail.

“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 theoretical “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: Fall / Winter 2015, Pouring concrete in the winter: If possible, you should be submitting plans to your local building department so you can lift in November or December and (ideally) have a foundation complete by the end of the year.  Now is the time to make plans to secure alternate housing because there are cheap rentals in the winter at the shore.

For a preliminary note on building in the winter, from a few blogs last year, 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

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