New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Blog 6-29-13 – Rebuilding after Sandy – 8 Handy Notes on the FEMA Zone Changes – Great News! They changed my Zone to an AE from a V!

Great News! They changed my Zone to an AE from a V!

8 Handy Notes on Foundation Costs & Feature Comparisons in the AE vs. V zones


Greetings NJ –

Hope today’s blog finds you well and enjoying your day.  

Today we have some exciting topics to talk about and more good information to help our rebuilding efforts. Most importantly, we’ll explore the ramifications of the changing flood zones as they relate to foundation options and costs. Talk about a bonus! New Jersey asked loud and clear for it and we got it. What an excellent $300 Million Gift from FEMA & New Jersey! (That’s how I figure it based on savings of $15.000 – $20,000 per house X 15,000 – 20,000 homes). This zone change directly, immediately benefited New Jersey. Outstanding!

      A quick positive mention of Sandra Gauge, Esquire who was kind enough to speak at our last seminar on legal issues regarding insurance (and whom I very ungraciously forgot to thank in the last blog). Sandra has been helping clients deal with their insurance companies and has been a great help to many people. You can reach her at 732 547 9660.

Changes in FEMA zones on the Working Flood Maps –What Does It Really Mean? Okay, so we’ve finally received the working maps for Ocean and Atlantic County and there have been significant changes, most of which are for the better. There was a large reduction in the V zone across many areas, which helps with rebuilding costs, to a much greater extent than expected. Once again, we were incorrect in our prediction that elevation levels would remain fairly constant and only zones would change – in most cases both zones and elevations have changed. So much for predictions. I must need another dart board.

The zone change is really good news if you are rebuilding. I didn’t go over it in detail in the last blog
because I was absorbing the ramifications (and redoing many, many estimates, proposals and feasibility studies.) but we will discuss it today in detail below. The not so great fact is that the author as well as numerous professionals in the industry, feels that in some cases (10% – 15%) elevations have now been posted too low and that ultimately they should and probably will be raised when the final maps are issued. Remember – these are working maps. They are subject to change over the next 2 years. It is in your best interests, as far as having a choice goes, to be able to use the current base flood elevation when deciding how high you want to go, since you can now choose to go lower.

(Author’s Note: We do not recommend construction at less than BFE + 4 to finished floor, regardless of the minimum zone requirements. Many professionals have seen the wave and water effects on the barrier islands and many, many homes would have had water above new proposed  finished floor if they were built to the new working map elevations. Be warned.)

Here are 8 useful notes on the effects of changing of a property from a V Zone to an A zone. Many readers are in that circumstance while many are already in an A or an AE zone. This information applies to both groups of people.

  1. In an A zone, you are allowed to raise your home on a concrete block and pier foundation, as opposed to being forced to use a piling foundation. This can cost ultimately cost less money if you raise your home to a lower height and can avoid moving it several times.
  2. Without the necessity of pilings, and without resorting to more expensive helical pilings, you can now lift your house straight up, without any additional moves. This is a savings.
  3. Though there is a savings on the move portion of the project, there are additional costs with concrete foundations, depending on how high of a foundation is being built. Additional costs include additional concrete, flood venting and concrete piers, as well as double fire protecting on the ceiling whenever you can park underneath or the ceiling height is high enough to be considered a third living level.
  4. That being said (See #3 above) when you are done with a concrete foundation, you do not have to install breakaway walls as you do with piling foundations to create an enclosed space. The concrete is both the perimeter walls as well as the structural foundation. That is a savings.
  5. Generally we are seeing a savings of between $15,000 and $30,000 per home by being able to use concrete. Even when the savings are negligible when compared to pilings, the addition of a basement and garage adds definitive value to the house.
  6. You can now choose to raise to a lower elevation, if that is your preference. In an A or an AE zone, elevation is measured to the finished floor, not the lowest structural girder. This means you can generally raise the house 2’ less. Accessibility would be the primary advantage, with fewer steps from the house to the grade, and/or shorter ramps.
  7. If accessibility is not an issue or concern, often it is prudent to consider raising a few extra feet to allow for parking underneath the house. The additional cost of a garage door, double sheetrock, several more feet of concrete and a real concrete floor if you want it is a relatively modest increase in price in the overall budget. However this investment yields you garage and storage space, which has a definable value.
  8. Each house is different. See earlier blogs about the cost/benefit of raising older homes. If it’s older than15 years and the property pre storm was worth less than $250,000, and it is smaller than ~ 1500 square feet, it is probably prudent to raze it and build new. Again, each house is different.

Dream Homes Seminar Schedule:  Our next Free Rebuilding after Sandy Seminar will be held at the Lacey Branch of the Ocean County Library on July 17, 2013 at 6 pm. It is called “Confused about Rebuilding & Frustrated with Flood Zones? This promises to be another great seminar. We’ll be hosting an excellent panel of professionals: Scott Lepley, architect, Steve Brasslett from Ivy First Mortgage, Tracey Giery, realtor, and Sandra Gauge, insurance attorney. I will be moderating and it’ll be an open forum for discussion to get your specific questions answered. Remember to bring your surveys and flood elevation certificates. Seating is limited and refreshments will be served. Call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.

Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Grant Program (RREM) – Update:

       Reminder – The RREM grant program is closing the first round tomorrow, although it is already oversubscribed by 100% +. There will be future rounds. If you haven’t already, go to and register. It takes 2 minutes and you will be on the list. You can also call 855-SANDY HM (855 726 3946). I don’t ultimately know how many people this grant will help or how long it will actually take to implement (as with many state programs, it is quite structurally inefficient), but it can’t hurt.


  1. FEMA will pay for rental costs while you are moving your home, up to 18 months. Typical time out of your home should be about 6-8 weeks.
  2. If you have been thinking of buying a home or a lot and building a home, now is a great time. Market activity and interest rates are both increasing and picking up even more at the shore. The optimum window will be another 6-15 months.

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

On another note, we actively purchase raw land, building lots and existing properties and have done so for many years. If you have property to sell, give me a call and let us evaluate it for you.

Stay well NJ. Keep up!


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

Rebuilding NJ One Home at a Time…

Residential Construction & Development for over 20 years in NJ

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

609 693 8881 x 102 Fax: 609 693 3802 Cell: 732 300 5619

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