New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes / Atlantic Northeast Construction – Rebuilding Blog – 3-9-14 – Notes from the Rebuilding seminar, Getting Started II, RREM foundation systems, Rich Pezzullo for state senate, RREM program progress.

Dream Homes Ltd. Rebuilding Blog –

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

3 – 8 -14


Rebuilding Seminar reviews and comments from 2/27/13 OC Library – Toms River

Getting Started II – RREM Status & Update – Rich Pezzullo – Campaign for NJ Senator

Foundation notes & finishes –


Hello Sandsters –

The good news is that spring is finally coming…we hit 60 yesterday and it was sunny. It’s so much more pleasant working outside in nicer weather.

Today we touch on the Rebuilding seminar, speak more about getting started and RREM foundation systems, endorse a state senate candidate, and talk about RREM program progress.

That’s a lot of info for 3 pages of copy, but I will do my best.

Like a splash of cold water, let’s start with RREM. It’ll help you get motivated for the day. Remember, if you didn’t set your clocks ahead already, you should do that. Although if you haven’t by the time you’re reading this you must be doing something much more interesting. You should probably keep doing that…the clocks can wait.

An unnamed contributor described the RREM Path C process to me recently as “slowly crawling out of a fetal position and getting off the floor”. That about sums it up, and I should just stop there and talk about foundation systems, but of course I just can’t quite do that.

We are hearing rumblings about a few people actually being through their design stage and filing for permits and we’re in that stage on a few projects ourselves. The largest delaying issue is the number of people who need to bless each piece of paper under Path C, which is something you don’t have with private or Path B projects. CBI & Gilbane (the 2 surviving RREM program managers) are doing their best to move the process along, but there is only so much they can do since they are both administrators and victims of the RREM / DCA / HUD system.

The RREM rules remind me of the US tax code – an equal amount of time is spent describing exceptions to the rules as following them. Forget about actually understanding them all.

The whole process is just too unnecessarily complicated for the average human. It doesn’t have to be that way at all and in private and Path B work, it’s not.

Another recurring item is pricing. It would simplify matters if there were posted pricing benchmarks for the various aspects of RREM work, with distinctions made between private, Path B & Path C work. Why it is such a (open) secret that pricing is necessarily different between the different categories of work is beyond me. No one reading this blog is unable to understand simple explanations and there is no complex calculus going on here.

If you do work privately (meaning non-RREM, or working on an HMGP or ICC grant), your project costs and level of confusion and complexity will generally be the lowest. This is followed immediately by Path B work which is generally slightly more expensive, but not materially.

Path C is the most expensive & cumbersome pricing structure and process, but you have the comfort of knowing that if the project goes over budget, or encounters unforeseen conditions, the program will pay for it.

Why the pricing differences and realities in the current market are not being acknowledged by the RREM Path C program is a source of disbelief and confusion to everyone I know. One cannot rationally think (although this is what the RREM program expects) that the pricing to complete 100+ assignments a year for 10 years, on time, to very expensive, exacting, demanding standards would be the same as contracting with a small builder or contractor who is doing 4-5 homes a year. It is not, nor will it ever be. Nor will general operating costs ever be less in NJ than in 95% of all other locations.

If you want to stay at the Waldorf Astoria in NY on Central Park south and go top drawer all the way, you’re paying for it. If you stay at the Pod or the Metro hotel off lower Broadway, there might be a little more grit, but it’s going to cost a hell of a lot less. (It’s may be more fun too.) Either way you’re still sleeping and showering in a hotel room and if everything works, it’s a satisfactory experience.

As a general note, the more accurately you define the scope of work for your project and the more you know (or at least think you know) what you want to do, the more likely you are to choose RREM Path B, or give up the RREM grant entirely and build privately. Generally you will also stress less. 

If you have an unknown soil or foundation condition, don’t want to do some preliminary analysis of your own, or don’t have the financial resources you might need, you might want to suffer through Path C. It takes longer and costs more (it doesn’t necessarily cost you more, but costs are always significantly higher) but you are afforded the certain piece of mind that comes with having a whole bunch of people constantly inspecting, considering and evaluating your project.

Each house is different. Each project is different. Each Sandster is different. It’s not correct to say that any particular path is right for everyone – it’s not. That’s why Baskin Robbins has a whole passel of flavors to pick from and the cereal aisle has 248 choices. That’s probably also why RREM arrived at Path B or C – that is what the market demanded.

Seminar Comments & Review – our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar on February 27th at the Toms River branch of the OC Library was fantastic and the best one yet. We hosted Andrew Baumgardner & Rod Scott from Baumgardner House Lifting, Scott Lepley, architect, Kathleen Dotoli, attorney and Evan Hill PE from Dewberry Engineering. The concept of a professional team presenting in that atmosphere really worked for all the Sandsters who came. Everyone who attended moved their specific project along and had really positive comments in general. The seminar was very informative but the time after the presentation was even better – lots of questions and interaction with all the professionals. The seminar ended about 8 or so and security was booting a bunch of us out at 9:20 pm.

We shot a video of the seminar also, which we will be posting on the blog, hopefully tomorrow.

We’re a bit behind the curve on that item. With the next one I may try to do a live webcast. Good luck with that Vince.

As far as seminar scheduling, I’m going to try and do one a month from now on and the next one is scheduled in Egg Harbor Township on April 24th. Sandsters from AC, Brigantine, Margate, Ventnor and Egg Harbor Township have been asking me for a while to do a seminar in Atlantic County, and here it is! In May we’ll be in Shrewsbury so the Monmouth folks can attend. Send me an email if you would like to attend either one.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. Whether or not you are Dream Homes/Atlantic Northeast Construction client or not, I will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction.

What’s good for any one of us, is good for the entire community. You cast your bread upon the waters and hope for really excellent sandwiches to come back. If we assist each other whenever and however we can, there is a multiplier effect – NJ comes back more quickly, and better than ever. I believe that. Take a half hour and read “How Full is Your Bucket?”

Now a plug for my business associate and friend of 20 years Rich Pezzullo, who is campaigning in the US senate race. Rich is on the ballot and is currently working very hard to get his message out to everyone in NJ, and ultimately to obtain the endorsement of the NJ Republican party. Rich is a conservative Republican candidate with great ideas and I urge all Sandsters reading this blog to check out his website at Rich supports less government, more clarity and fiscal sanity (a man after my own heart) and deserves your consideration. If he wins the primary, he will be challenging Cory Booker in the fall and he needs your support. You can learn more about Rich’s views, sign up to help his campaign or make a contribution on his website at

Reminder – Wise words for Smart Sandsters: Call for your New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) reconnections when you pick up your permit or when you start your lift. They’ve been running 4 – 6 weeks. If you’re really running late, you can always call and push the date back.

My thoughts in the last blog about getting started really resonated with a lot of people and I received a number of comments and questions.

First I have to say, Sandsters, if you’ve pulled the trigger on your project, congratulations! The greatest joy in life is to begin and you have. Taking control of your project and the process is so important and more and more people are doing just that. I’m hearing from people ordering soil borings and analysis, starting or finalizing discussions with an architect or builder and generally nudging things along in positive directions.

Any forward movement is excellent and if no one else is saying it to you, I will. Good for you for starting – you should be proud of yourself!

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

Start work on your design stage. Survey, soil boring, foundation & architectural design, builder or contractor estimate.

Whether you hire a Conductor (Builder) to guide your orchestra through the show, or do it yourself, or a combination of both, the time to act is now.

Either pick up the phone, call me and say “Let’s go!” and I will put everything in motion or call Evan for a boring and soil analysis, Scott to start working on a plan, Kathy to file an appeal, or Andrew to talk about the actual lift. Do something.

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.

RREM – Standard foundation systems: We spoke about foundation systems in the last blog and I wanted to clarify some items. If you are in RREM, and you are doing a reconstruction (demo and new construction), the program standard is timber pilings straight up to a girder system under the house. There is nothing surrounding the foundation, unless you pay for it separately. You can install lattice, build breakaway walls, or even block up a foundation between the pilings but none of those finishes come standard.

If you are doing a Rehabilitation (lifting your house in place, and building a new foundation) you will either have your old foundation demolished down to the footings or (in a few cases) be able to build directly on your existing block foundation. That depends on your soil, and the age and condition of your foundation.

Repeat: When you are elevating an existing house, the least expensive method 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 is why it’s critical at the beginning of the design stage to get a soil boring and analysis to definitively determine the best, most cost effective foundation system for your home.

Reminder: if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss 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. Yes we actually do all of the work that I talk about 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.



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




Twitter: foxbuilder

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