Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 1-25-14
RREM – Positive Movement & Design Fee Dilemma in Path B & C
Driving in the snow – HMGP Mystery – Where’s the Money, Honey?
Seminar Schedule for February & Great Link to RREM Plans!
Hello Sandsters –
I hope all is going well for you and you aren’t freezing your butt off too much. This weather has been wicked and unpleasant. For the record, I am in favor of global warming happening quite a bit more quickly around here…I think humans shouldn’t be subject to temps under 65 degrees and we’re already raising & elevating the whole damn Jersey shore, so let’s warm it up a bit…J
We’ve much to talk about today, so let’s get started. Sorry for the delay in posting…I would love to write 2-3 times a week since there is a ton of information to share but it’s just not happening right now. Site visits, estimates, consultation and actual construction are most important, although the blog is definitely a key for getting info out. Life is a balance. But there’ll be no pretense at brevity today. It’s not going to happen…J
As a note, if you’ve sent me an email with a question and have not received a response, please resend it to me. I have that nagging feeling several have gotten lost in my email swamp and I don’t want to miss any of your questions.
Word of caution about driving in snow with Anti-Lock Brakes – Most people know this, but it bears repeating. If you have anti-lock brakes (most cars do) and you start to slide, DO NOT pump your brakes. Press down on your brake pedal and hold it. That horrid sound you hear is the brake system working to stop the skid. Nothing is broken.
Great News for anyone reconstructing under the RREM program who wants to look at SUPER copies of plans and elevations – Right on the Interweb in the comfort of your home! As many of you know, we’ve had (not great) copies of many of the RREM plans on our website at www.dreamhomesltd.com Unfortunately we were asked to remove them from our site, which we promptly did, because we are team players and good little Eagle Scouts and were only trying to help our dear Sandsters…J HOWEVER – our approved RREM partners at Robert Wolfe Construction have a fantastic site showing all the plans and colored elevations for the RREM models!…click on http://www.robertwolfeinc.com/home-plans/nj-rrem-home-plans/ to see the entire line.
Save that link and send it to your neighbors who need it.
Upcoming Seminar Notes & Events: Join us for a Rebuilding / RREM Seminar on February 27th, 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington Street. We will be in the Green Room which is a great space, but seating is limited to 30 people. Please respond if you would like to come. We will be hosting Baumgardner House Lifting as one of our speakers, along with Scott Lepley architect and Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. Refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. There will be time for questions and case review afterwards.
Sooooooooooo….where’s the HMGP Money, Honey? I heard over the last few weeks that some HMGP funding is being delayed, and no reason given. HMGP is (was?) one of the more efficient funding programs and it makes no sense to delay its implementation. If you have been approved for the HMGP grant and aren’t seeing any movement:
- Send in your signed building contract with your plans to both your case worker and insurance company (ICC funding from flood insurance) and ask them in writing when you can get started and how the funding will work. If you aren’t pushing, nothing will happen. Be nice but be persistent and keep copies of everything.
- Make sure the scope of work in the contract you send or deliver to them is for the minimum allowed by the state, which is all HMGP and ICC will pay for. That means elevating to ABFE +1 (advisory base flood plus 1 foot), with pressure treated stairs and platforms and all decks to remain in place. If you are choosing to do additional work, it should be listed in a separate contract with an additional scope of work, so you do not delay getting your plans and contract approved by the program and your insurance company. Neither the program nor the insurance companies will pay for upgrades. Remember to always keep copies of everything you submit.
(Readers who have been following all year know that we have repeatedly recommended to our clients to elevate the additional 2’ to BFE +3, which is currently the elevation at which you will pay the 2nd lowest insurance rates. BFE +4 is actually the lowest rate.
The additional cost to go up 2 extra feet will usually be paid off in 2-3 years of insurance savings. )
Definition: Remember Sandsters – Flood elevations stand for height above mean sea level, not height above the ground at your house or height above finished floor. Elevating your house 5’ to elevation 10 means your new finished floor height will be 10 feet above sea level, not 10’ above the ground.
HMGP is a reimbursement program so nothing is paid to you until you are complete your project. Your insurance company will usually distribute $15,000 to start and $15,000 on completion. If you cannot fund the construction yourself in the meantime, you need to communicate that information to your builder so he can accommodate your finance schedule. It’s not an insurmountable issue, but many smaller builders can’t work under terms like that and you definitely have to be clear.
HMGP is truly an important component of the rebuilding process for the simple reasons that it is limited in scope (elevation only on renovated properties), efficient in design and distribution and encompasses a great number of homes that can be done very quickly. From an economic standpoint, it has greater impact to complete a greater number of projects in a short time, than it does to focus solely on the complete rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. The RREM work is and will get done on its own time line – the HMGP program is solely in the hands of you as the homeowner and should and will move more quickly once it gets rolling.
The house lift and multiple move on Matilda Drive in the Coves section of Manahawkin is proceeding well amidst some really lovely 10 degree weather. The house should be reset on a new piling foundation within another week or so and if it snows again, we will erect a temporary igloo under the house for rest breaks.
We talked in the last blog about the design stage starting in many jobs which will lead to several dozen homes being started and under construction in the first quarter of this year. There are still (as always) delays and nightmare inducing paperwork shuffles and none of that helps either your mental state or your digestion. (Pretend you are working at a low-paying, thankless job which will end in a few months and it will seem a bit more manageable.)
But…like I’ve said, the snowball has finally started rolling down the mountain and will steadily become larger and stronger as it grows – just like the RREM program.
As much as this blog contains criticism, both the DCA and the RREM program and construction managers deserve solid praise for the following items:
- DCA & RREM willingness to rapidly respond to input and changing circumstances. From focus groups to conference calls, builders have been giving suggestions for efficiency and process improvement, and they are being heard and incorporated into policy.
- Realistic assessments and construction evaluations from the program managers and construction managers. We have been going out to houses and meeting with construction managers with building expertise and having pointed, accurate conversations about scopes of work. This is a world of improvement from the open bid system the program started with.
These are huge items that deserve mention. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, as long as you constantly correct and adjust your course and move in the right direction. (pursuing a course you know to be incorrect while hoping for a different outcome is lunacy). A great amount of critical import from the builders in the program has been and is being heard, reviewed and changed for the better. In my experience, that is not common in life in general and exceedingly rare in government. The RREM managers and the DCA are focused on moving houses and diligently improving processes daily. That is great news for everyone up and down the shore and I am optimistic improvements will continue.
Ok, back to the BizarroWorld of confusing rules in the RREM program that make little or no sense and should (and inevitably will) be changed. Paraphrasing from the last blog,
“Unfortunately, design costs under Path B are not in addition to your grant amount, but are deducted from that amount. Fortunately, when working directly with your own contractor, design costs are usually less than what they are through the program. With Pathway C, your design costs are paid in addition to your grant amount. With many people this matters quite a bit.”
To put it simply, this policy makes no sense. Why wouldn’t the program pay for design costs with Path B when they are paying for them with Path C? Path B is quite a bit more economical to the state from a cast perspective and it is not at all fair that homeowners in Path B should pay all their own design costs. The work still has to be done under both Paths and it is reasonable that all homes under the RREM program should have this cost allowance built in to the contingency and design stage portion of the budget. This is an item that should be changed and hopefully will be in the near future.
Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.
A Note to our Readers: Though I began and continue writing this blog primarily to try and help as many of the thousands of Sandsters affected by Sandy as possible, we are design builders and general contractors and are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the state. People call and ask me so often if we actually do this work (which I always thought was pretty clear), that I thought I’d mention it in the blog. We work with private clients, as well as Path B and C in the RREM program. Feel free to call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.
Stay well Sandsters.
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