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 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.




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




Twitter: foxbuilder



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s