New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 27 -14 – Rebuilding Seminar Tonight 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River – Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – Foundation systems

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 27 -14

 Rebuilding Seminar Tonight 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – Foundation systems

Hello Sandsters –

Reminder – our (nearly famous) Rebuilding Seminar is tonight from 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington Street in Toms River. There are 8 seats open, and we’re in the Green Room. We’re hosting Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. Refreshments will be served. Call / text me at 732 300 5619 or email me if you want to attend. Bring your surveys, flood elevation certs and other documents for discussion and review.

Remember: New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) is running 4 – 6 weeks for reconnections, so call in your orders now for Thanksgiving…I’m kidding, but not too much. I now call for gas reconnections when I pick up the permit to start the job. It’s usually between 3 weeks and a month until I’m resetting a house on the new foundation and NJNG is running 4-6 weeks for reconnects. If you’re really running late, you can always call and push the date back.

Repeat: “What should I do next to get started?” 

It’s a very common question with a simple and fairly straightforward answer.

Start work on your design stage.

This bears repeating – unfortunate but true fact: In the majority of cases (90+ %), the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

So what does this mean?

Everyone needs a survey, soil boring, foundation & architectural design and preliminary estimate based on a scope of work. So get started.

I suggest you get started on design with your builder, attorney, architect, engineer or other professional but you can certainly do this on your own. It will cost about the same (really) but your professional will generally be able to get the work done more quickly.

Builders aren’t actively interested in making money from engineering, surveying and architectural costs, but are very interested in moving the process along so they can get started actually elevating your house.

Reminder: You can still comment regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant. You can submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us if you have thoughts or opinions you wish to share.

Refresher – Construction Technique: There are several basic foundation systems that can be used when you elevate your house. In order of cost (least to highest) for new construction, the methods are wood pilings straight up to a girder system under the house, a concrete footing with concrete block up to the underside of the floor, wood pilings up to a concrete grade beam with concrete piers or block up to the floor and finally helical pilings up to a concrete grade beam with concrete piers or a continuous foundation wall.

With an elevation of an existing house, the least expensive method in an AE zone by far is to build on top of the existing foundation structure with concrete block. The primary concern with this method is the weight bearing capacity of the existing soil under the old foundation – it may not be strong enough to support the weight of the additional block.

This point brings us back to the critical need at the beginning of the design stage for a soil boring and geotechnical analysis to definitively determine the best, most cost effective foundation system.

If the soil is not strong enough to support the new foundation, we are stuck with A) moving the house to install timber piles or B) installing helical piles, which are 3 times as costly as timber piles.

More on this subject and some other considerations with different foundation systems at the seminar and in future blogs.

Reminder: if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. People ask me so often if we actually do this work that I am mentioning 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. 

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 22 -14 – Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday 2/27/13 OC Library in Toms River – Getting Started on Your Design Stage – Building Tips

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2 – 22 -14

DCA Public Hearings – Building Notes & Tips –

Upcoming Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started – Design Stage Thoughts – URS released as PM

Hello Sandsters –

Hopefully you’re enjoying the decent weather we’re having today and all is going well with you. Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice also, so you should try and get outside and do something. Next week we’re right back into windy, cold, uncivilized weather in the mid 20’s and 30’s. There are only 26 days until Spring, so stay optomistic.

If I only had a scribe running around after me, I would write so much more, but oddly I’ve had no takers for that position. There’s so much to write and so little time.

First a reminder about our (nearly famous) Rebuilding Seminar this Thursday night: It’s February 27th, from 6-8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington Street. We’ll be in the Green Room, and seating is limited to 30 people. As of now I have about 15-20 people confirmed so if you would like to come, please give me a call so we don’t run out of chairs (or cookies…)  We’ll be hosting Baumgardner House Lifting, who does a great house lift presentation, along with Scott Lepley, architect Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. and Evan Hill from Dewberry  Engineering (last blog I stupidly wrote Doonebury, which is incorrect). I will be moderating and answering general construction questions. As always, it should be a great session and refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. As always, bring your surveys, flood elevation certs and other documents and there will be time for questions and case review afterwards.

Important Rebuilding Tip: New Jersey Natural Gas is running about a year for reconnections, so call in your orders now (Hello Chuck from NJNG, who took one order from me in early December and we’re still waiting…) Ok, I might be exaggerating, but not by too much. I am now calling for gas reconnections when I pick up the permit to start the job. It’s usually between 3 weeks and a month until we are resetting the house on the new foundation and NJNG is running 4-6 weeks for reconnects. I have been sucking my thumb on too many jobs which are completely finished and waiting for gas. You can always call them and put the date back if you running late – but it is a beast to get them to rush an installation or reconnect. You have to be someone really important to do that, and I am not in that exalted category.

Ok, let’s get to some stuff.

Samuel Clemons wrote, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” I think he was actually writing for a Sandster survivor’s group. It’s ridiculously easy to lose one’s sense of humor, but injecting some levity into the rebuilding process makes the pill easier to swallow.

URS RREM Contract cancelled: Any one in the RREM program who was working with URS as their program manager undoubtedly got the news that URS has been yanked by the neck out of the program. Good riddance, kind sirs. In my experience, URS was the least efficient and productive of the 3 program managers.

Depending on where your house was in the process will determine how quickly your file is transferred to Gilbane or CBI/Shaw. If you’re Path B, this won’t really affect you but if you’re Path C, it might cause a delay. In any case, the loss of one of the PM’s won’t necessarily change much in the RREM program and you should keep grinding along in your path.

Ironically, having 2 program managers instead of 3 might streamline things a bit. In the last two weeks, the 2 remaining survivors in RREM War 2.0 have come up with standardized scopes of work for elevation which will definitely help speed the process in Path C.

If you look at #3 in my last blog about testimony at the DCA hearing, I spoke about this. The transparency of all information that many are crying out for would be wonderful but waiting for it is probably tilting at windmills. What we can achieve immediately is standardization in pricing and estimating methods. That goal, which we are constantly moving towards, will do more to speed things up than any other single item.

Meanwhile, in general, Sandsters everywhere are suffering delays getting their projects started, both privately and with Path B & C in RREM. This is caused by many factors, some of which are simply endemic to the construction process in NJ, and some of which are artificially created. Which leads me to my next point and The Single Most Common Question, which is…

“What should I do next to get started?”  The answer is simple and fairly straightforward and still eluding many Sandsters.

It’s this – just start something pertaining to your design stage.

Someone once wrote “The simplest joy in the world is to begin.” There is no situation where this is more true than with rebuilding your own home.

If you are rebuilding privately, call us (or find another good builder), put together a scope of work and a contract and start on your design stage.

If you are RREM Path B, call us (or find another good builder), put together a scope of work and a contract and start on your design stage.

If you are RREM Path C, call your FEMA case worker and persist until you are assigned a builder, make an appointment for a site visit as soon as possible and insist on concrete dates for the next action each time you speak, meet, write or interact. Be really persistent. Pray a lot for patience and good nature.

Sad but true fact: In all cases, the design stage (surveying, soil boring and geotechnical analysis, foundation inspection and design, architectural design, utility disconnects and plan submission and approval) takes longer than the actual construction stage.

So what does this mean? It means that in most circumstances, it behooves you to inch the process along, while you are still working on funding issues, design stage items and temporary housing. Everyone needs a survey and soil boring, everyone needs a foundation & architectural design and everyone needs a preliminary estimate and scope of work. So get started on yours.

You can do this with your builder, or on your own. Generally you will pay about the same but your builder or contractor may be able to get the work done more quickly (we can.)  Also, it is quite common for design stage costs to be pass-through costs without profit added, where your builder or GC will handle ordering and evaluating the work and simply bill you. Most good builders are not interested in making money from engineering, surveying and architectural professional costs, but are very interested in having control of the process so it moves along.

So get started now if you want to be in your house by mid summer. In any case it’s more interesting to move forward (even if you might make mistakes), than it is to stand on the tracks waiting for the next train to run you over. There’s plenty of time to wait when we’re in heaven.

As you may remember, the DCA held 3 hearings regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant. You can still submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us if you have thoughts or opinions you wish to share.

Though there were many angry, disgruntled, unhappy people in attendance at all 3 hearings, hopefully some of the input from both the public and professionals will be heeded. (Also, maybe the Sierra Club will move Jeff Tittle to the coal sands in Alberta, Canada and he can stop wasting everyone’s time here in NJ talking about esoteric, unknowable, unproveable inflammatory nonsense).

Anyway, my comments and testimony before the DCA are included in the last blog if you want to review them in total, but I had 4 points, one of which I already mentioned above.

The other 3 points are as follows:

1. Fund allocation for the new $1.463 billion HUD grant should be heavily weighted to RREM, HMGP and other similar DCA programs.

2. The RREM program would be vastly improved with an accurate, reasonable, geographically appropriate pricing structure.

3. Finally, Path B & Path C homeowners should not be treated differently as far as design costs costs are concerned and both Paths should be paid by the RREM program in addition to the grant amounts. 

I’ve written too much again (big shock I know). In the next blog, we’ll talk about appealing your grant decision, different foundation systems, your 5A Grant Award meeting and some interesting facts about the number of people affected by Sandy that you may not know.

Reminder that if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. is a design builder and general contractor and we are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the shore. People ask me so often if we actually do this work that I am mentioning 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.  

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well and hang in there Sandsters. Better weather and better times are coming.

Regards,

 

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dream Homes Ltd.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

 

 

New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2-11-14 – Comments & Observations from the DCA Public Hearing about Allocating Funds under the new $1.463 Billion HUD Grant

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 2-11-14

Comments & Observations from the DCA Public Hearing about Allocating Funds under the new $1.463 Billion HUD Grant

Building Notes & Weather Delays & Seminar Schedule for February

 

Hello Sandsters –

I hope all is going well with you and you are enjoying the winter. Personally I hate it and feel if we never saw another snowflake in NJ, that would be a wonderful thing. Only 36 days until Spring!! Yay!

Before we get started, a sincere congratulations to a dear friend and colleague, Kathy Dotoli, who just opened her own law practice in Toms River. Kathy is one of the top worker’s compensation and social security disability attorneys in NJ and can be contacted at 732 221 5640 if you are in need of those or other legal services. We wish her the absolute best of luck in her new venture! Great job Kathy! We’ll see you at the seminar on 2/27/14 in Toms River.

Upcoming Seminar:  Join us for our (nearly famous?) Rebuilding / RREM Seminar on February 27th, from 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 Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. and Evan Hill from Doonesbury Engineering. It should be a great session and refreshments will be served. Call me at 732 300 5619 or email to reserve your space. As always, there will be time for questions and case review afterwards.

Ok, let’s get into the muck a little, Sandsters…J Unless you’ve been on vacation in the Out Islands of the Bahamas (don’t tell me because I will definitely throw a snowball at you), you’ve seen much news lately about RREM, HUD, lawsuits, studies, complaints, lack of transparency and slow progress. It’s become a flood and much of it is being exacerbated by the tribulations our fair governor is currently enduring…we have BridgeGate, the bullying of mayors in Hoboken, Bayonne and Jersey City, the questions about the recently fired HGI (who was supposedly administering the RREM program for the DCA, but no one is actually clear what they were doing) and finally delays with the implementation of RREM.

Which leads me to the DCA Hearing tonight, which I attended tonight at Stockton and where I claimed my 3 minutes in front of the microphone.

As you may have heard, the DCA is holding 3 hearings regarding the allocation of the newest $1.463 billion HUD/CBD grant, and one of them was held tonight at the Stockton College Performing Arts Center in Galloway. The other two are in Newark tomorrow night and at Brookdale College on Thursday. (I have included the email I received from DCA at the bottom of this blog post if you want to attend tomorrow or Thursday, or you can submit comments by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us )

You can probably imagine that there were many angry, disgruntled people in attendance, and some people (not too many – actually very few) were actually literate and had good input. (My comments are included here for your reference). Sandsters, you’ve all seen these subjects before in this blog but I thought they were important enough to testify about.

“My name is Vince Simonelli and I’m the president of Dream Homes Ltd., a new home builder and general contractor in NJ. I’m a lifelong resident with an active, vested interest in efficiently rebuilding both homes affected by Sandy and the NJ economy. I’ve constructed and sold over 1500 homes and developed over 3000 building lots over the last 20 years.

Since Sandy, I’ve been moving, raising and rehabbing homes both privately and in partnership with approved REM contractors. I’m very familiar with the REM and HMGP programs. I also write a blog called Rebuilding after Sandy where I share information about the complexities of rebuilding.

I have four points regarding the REM program and allocation of the additional HUD grant. 

1. First, fund allocation should be more heavily weighted to the REM/HMGP programs, since reestablishing permanent residency is a crucial component in any economic redevelopment effort. While other allocations under the HUD grant are valid, it’s most important to return people to their homes. Currently $386 million of the $1.463 billion in the newest grant is for homeowners, which is 38% of the total. At a minimum, the allocation of REM/HMGP funds should be 60% of the total, or $888 million.  

2. Second, the REM program would be improved with the adoption of an accurate, reasonable pricing structure. The prices dictated to the DCA from HUD are between 40% – 90% lower than pricing currently approved and being paid in other states in identical programs. DCA is being hamstrung from HUD and HUD pricing is simply wrong. Insurance, taxes, labor and material costs are greater in NJ than in other states and the approved pricing should reflect that fact.

3. Third, all REM program managers should use the same criteria for estimating and pricing rehab work. This will reduce the hidden costs currently plaguing the program. All program managers should be on the same page. Confusion and inefficiency is costing the NJ taxpayer millions of dollars and much lost time.

4. Finally, Path B & Path C homeowners should not be treated differently. With Path B in REM, where homeowners choose their own contractors, design costs should be paid by REM and not deducted from homeowners’ grants. These design costs are paid under Path C and should be afforded to Path B participants as well.

Thank you for your time.”

(Believe it or not, it took me longer to cut that to 3 minutes than it does to write a 3 page blog… being brief and succinct (at least in the written word) is difficult for me. )

I did get applause twice, which was nice…and I didn’t get The Hook like some other people who went over their 3 minutes…J

Anyway, I felt pained for the panel sitting up there doing their best to dodge the eggs and rotten tomatoes being hurled at them. It was not right, to say the least. To abuse the 9 professionals on the panel and blame them for every issue in the entire DCA and RREM program because of inevitable mistakes & delays in a program of this size is like saying you aren’t eating Chinese food anymore because you had one bad egg roll. They’re trying, and no one’s perfect. 

Sandsters, I have a ton of compassion for folks going through the rebuilding process, both privately and in the program. I regularly meet with people, some of whom are so relieved to actually be speaking with a builder that they start crying in relief when they’re telling me their story (really). I’ve seen much pain, suffering & inconvenience throughout the shore and none of that is trivial. The human cost to all of us cannot be discounted or minimized.

However, some perspective is in order.

RREM (and the other 49 programs under DCA) are government programs, they’re quite large (with the new HUD grant, it’s almost 20 times larger than Floyd and Irene combined), and they’re not actually going badly considering the birth pains they are still suffering. That statement is fact based on real data, not opinion.

Do any of us really expect that in a program approaching $3.3 billion in total there wouldn’t be some mistakes, modification and corrections in the beginning? Does anyone think everyone involved will be completely well versed, have all the answers, be blindingly efficient and able to fix everything for every person immediately?

Not even a little bit. Let’s be practical and realistic. However, most people involved are really trying to move the rock up the road.

Is RREM inefficient at times? Of course, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt and it’s not the worst hand. When it becomes too much to handle, keep in mind that there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of sincere, well meaning people involved from the DCA, RREM and countless other state agencies that are doing their best to administer and manage an unwieldy adolescent  beast. It will get better and it has been steadily improving. Because you may have personally had a negative experience, that does not mean the entire effort is worthless or tarnished. If you eat one rotten apple, do you stop eating fruit for the rest of your life?

Unfortunately, if you’re reading this you’re in the first wave and like the saying goes, the pioneers are the ones with arrows sticking out of their ass…

Can the DCA & RREM improve in general on the issues of transparency and communication? Absolutely. Does anyone reading this know of any organization, public or private, that couldn’t improve in those categories? Not likely, but if you do, let me know.

Much of the angst and aggravation coming from the public is caused by misinformation and lack of understanding. Keep in mind that studiously ignoring facts in favor of rhetoric and hearsay, does not make one right or intelligent. It simply makes one belligerent and closed to reality.

Hang in there Sandsters. It’s happening, though not as quickly as anyone would want.

I’ve written too much tonight already. In the next blog, we’ll talk about appealing your grant decision, ideas for different foundation systems, timing for your project and some interesting facts about the number of people affected by Sandy that you may not know.

Reminder that if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please contact me again. Lately I’ve been swamped and have missed messages here and there.

A Note to our Readers: Though I began and continue writing this blog primarily to try and help as many Sandsters as possible, we are design builders and general contractors and are actively doing renovation and reconstruction projects up and down the state. People ask me so often if we actually do this work (which I always thought was pretty clear), that I am mentioning 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.

Hope this helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well Sandsters.

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://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder 

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs

Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR)

Action Plan Substantial Amendments #6 and #7

Pursuant to Federal Register Notice FR-5696-N-06 

Please take notice that the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs will hold three public hearings to solicit public comments on the State’s plan for the allocation and expenditure of $1,463,000,000 in CDBG-DR funds, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to New Jersey pursuant to the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (Public Law 113-2). The State will also accept public comment on a proposal to provide rental assistance in the form of tenant-based vouchers for Sandy-impacted households. State cabinet officials and staff will provide an overview of proposed allocations and priorities.  Public comments will begin immediately after the presentation. To ensure maximum convenience for residents, hearings will be held in New Jersey’s northern, central and southern regions pursuant to the following schedule:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 (4:00pm – 7:00pm)

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey – Performing Arts Center (PAC)

101 Vera King Farris Drive

Galloway, NJ 08205

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 (5:30pm – 8:30 pm)

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Campus Center

141 Summit Street

Newark, NJ 07103

 

Thursday, February 13, 2014 (4:00pm – 7:00 pm)

Brookdale Community College

Robert J. Collins Arena and Recreation & Events Center

765 Newman Springs Road

Middletown, NJ 07738

Those interested in speaking at the public hearings will be given up to three minutes.  To sign up to speak, please register online https://bitly.com/SandyPublicHearings. All hearing dates, times and locations are subject to change due to inclement weather conditions. Information regarding any change in the hearing schedule will be posted at the above mentioned website at least two hours before the scheduled start time of the hearing. Those who need accessibility accommodations are advised to contact the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs at sandy.recovery@dca.state.nj.us , or call 609-292-3750 to ensure full availability of services.

Residents may also submit their comments in writing at the public hearing, or by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us or by mail to the attention of Gabrielle Gallagher, NJ Department of Community Affairs, 101 South Broad Street, P.O. Box 800, Trenton, NJ 08625-0811. For more information about New Jersey’s Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts or to download a copy of the State’s Action Plan and related amendments, visit http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/sandyrecovery/action/  or request a copy at the above mentioned address.