New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Blog 9 – 14 – 13 – Rebuilding after Sandy – Superior Wall Foundation systems – Concrete Curing time – Trade Partners – RREM Update – Free Rebuilding Seminar 9/17

Superior Wall Foundation systems – Concrete Curing time – Trade Partners – RREM Update – Free Rebuilding Seminar 9/17


Hello NJ –

Welcome to the end of summer (one more week) and what a challenging summer it has been. As the icing on the already painful Rebuilding after Sandy cake, Seaside Heights and Park took another hard shot with a 4 block, 10 alarm fire that’s still smoldering. Coming off a very lackluster summer for shore businesses, many stores, arcades, restaurants and hotels had only recently finished rebuilding only to be devastated by a fire which destroyed much of the southern end of the boardwalk. The one saving grace is that there were no fatalities. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone affected by this truly unfortunate event. Hang in there Seaside – Jersey is with you and we know you’ll be back better than ever.

On a humorous note, I started writing this morning and was really on a roll – witty, sarcastic, informative. I wrote a great first page, when I decided to take a shower. When I came out, one of my spoiled, lazy overweight cats was on the counter next to my laptop, looking very satisfied with herself. After shooing her away, I sat down to write again and immediately saved the document, because I am paranoid about data loss. It was then that I noticed a question mark (?) in the center of the page. Then I discovered that the idiot cat had stepped on the keyboard and erased 90% of the new copy I wrote. This really happened. I should have waited on the shower.

World Record for House Lifting in NJ – Update: I am officially claiming the NJ House Raise & Set Speed Record. As of this Friday, it will be 21 days from house raise to reset, including a new floor system, and a new block foundation. Amazing timing and the new gold standard. If I didn’t have to wait 14 days to achieve proper curing on the concrete, we would have completed the entire process in 10 days, including inspections. I feel like I should retire after this house…could it get any better than this?

FREE Rebuilding Seminar Reminder – This Tuesday: 2 days from now: If you haven’t reserved a space at our seminar this Tuesday, call me now. It will be at the Holiday Inn on Rt.72 in Manahawkin at 6 pm this Tuesday, September 17, 2013. We have a great presentation planned showing the steps involved in an actual house raising. Rod Scott and Andrew Baumgartner from Baumgartner House Lifting (Our approved RREM trade partner) will be joining us with an excellent Power Point presentation about the entire process. The rest of our panel of professionals includes Scott Lepley, architect, Steve Brasslett from Ivy First Mortgage, Tracey Giery, realtor, and Kathy Dotoli, attorney. I will be moderating and fielding construction questions and as always, it’ll be an open forum to have your specific questions answered. Remember to bring your surveys and flood elevation certificates if you haven’t sent them to me already. Seating is limited and refreshments will be served. Call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.


New Idea – Construction Science – Superior Wall foundation: The World Record paragraph leads me to my next point about using Superior Walls as a foundation system instead of block or pilings. One of the important considerations with raising a home and resetting it on concrete block (known as cmu, for concrete masonry unit) is the curing time need for concrete to cure completely. Actually, concrete never really cures completely, but it does get to 97%-98% after 28 days. It achieves 70% at 14 days, which is what we generally work with. That one issue unnecessarily adds 7-10 days to the house raising process.

One solution is to start with higher psi (pounds per square inch) concrete. If 4500 – 5000 psi reinforced concrete is used instead of regular 3500 psi concrete, the cure rate in one week is greater than 3500 psi after 14 days. It’s more expensive to use reinforced or fiber cement concrete but there definitely is a time savings.

Another consideration (thank you Scott Lepley for the following analysis) is that only 30% of the design load of a house is in the empty weight of the house. Another 25-30% is the snow load on the roof, and the balance is all the crap we cram in our homes, as well as all our overweight relatives. So technically, we should be able to drop the house immediately without worrying about the concrete curing sufficiently to support the weight. I have yet to be able to convince a building inspector of the truth in this theory.

Getting back to new developments, the other day I got a call from my old friend Richard Hawk from Superior Walls / Northeast Precast. We’ve done hundreds of basements through the years with Superior Walls, it’s a great product and Rich is a trusted resource for anything involving pre-cast concrete. I never thought of using the product above grade (although I probably should have) but Northeast has been using Superior Walls recently in different applications as a new above-ground foundation system for house raises. Each wall is precast in their plant, is 5000 psi when it is delivered and has an insulating R Factor of R22, which is greater than the R 13 in your walls. This is due to a layer of 2’ Styrofoam insulation attached to the inside of the wall. It’s a great product, comes from their factory fully cured and is then set in place. Most importantly, there is no cure or wait time before lowering the house.

One drawback to this method, is that it only works when you are setting a foundation on either an existing slab or a new footing. It cannot be placed on the existing block of a crawl space and built up, like ordinary concrete block.

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

Important Note: If you want us (or anyone else you are working with) to be able assist on your project, you have to request that your contractor be one of the three contractors who quotes on your renovation. Supposedly preference is given to signed contracts and previous work associations, but once again it is on a case by case basis.

Money & Finance – Grants, Loans & How RREM is Going Limp On Us: RREM isstill being grossly misrepresented to the public. To date, I have not worked with, or even heard of a single client who has actually received money under RREM, developed a final architectural plan, or met with a contractor to discuss a specific job.

Now, to make matters more confusing, there is a new inquiry into how exactly the RREM funds were apportioned. It seems that no one actually seems to be willing to reveal that information. One wonders why.

Repetitive Note: If you haven’t applied for the RREM, you are probably not going to get it in the future. Wait and hope at your own risk or get on with your life. Apply for the $30,000 HMGP. The FEMA grant website is


Unpleasant turn of events: It turns out that generally RREM will not authorize a house lift when the house is on a slab, so much homeowner choice has been eliminated from the RREM equation. Unfortunately, this affects a number of people who have developed architectural plans to raise their home and have been waiting months to start, only to be put on hold when the grant was introduced 3 months ago. There are 18 plans offered through the RREM program, and each offers 3 elevation styles, so there is some variety. Generally though they are quite similar. As you might expect, to date you cannot access them on the RREM website although if you poke around in the contractor section, you can find the full plans for review.

Sobering Pathetic State of Affairs: RREM Round 1 is $600 million (of which $0 has been spent, although DCA & FEMA tell us that all the money has been allocated, but won’t tell us how they made the determination) and because it has not been spent, Rounds 2 & 3, which represent another $1.2 Billion, are being delayed. If we do not use the money within a certain amount of time, we will lose it.

This state of affairs is tragic. Instead of helping 12,000 homeowners rebuild, we are stuck trying to disburse funds to the first 4,000 (which isn’t happening) and we are ultimately in jeopardy of losing the balance of the federal funding.

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

            The FEMA hotline is 855 726 3946. Call to register for either grant or go on their website at

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

Stay well NJ. Keep up!


Dream Homes, Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

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

Rebuilding NJ One Home at a Time…

Residential Construction & Development for over 20 years in NJ

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

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

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