Dream Homes Ltd. Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
5 – 25 -14
Happy Memorial Day Sandsters and I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weekend. The weather is only supposed to get nicer, and we’re moving right into a heat wave on Tuesday and Wednesday. Typical New Jersey – it was in the forties last week and going up to 88 on Wednesday.
Before we get started, on this Memorial Day I want to extend a sincere thank you to all the men and women who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces around the world. But for their sacrifice and commitment to freedom, our government and freedoms would be like those in Turkey, Iran, Syria or China…and numerous other places. Thank you for your service – if you are active service, may you come home safely and enjoy the land you helped to guard. For those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice, may you rest in peace. Your efforts and sacrifice are never forgotten.
Since I don’t blog enough (old story), we have volumes to talk about today, even more so than usual. We’ll talk about the latest series of major Sandy / RREM errors from our esteemed Governor (should I just start a section in this blog entitled, “Who Stepped on Their $%#@! Today?”) as well as Senator Sweeney’s response. We’ll suggest what never to say to RREM or HMGP, mention our next seminar in Brick, and explain one simple mystery revealed in inconsistent delays in RREM Path B funding. We’ll talk time frames for money/payment issues (both in and out), and as always, give some construction tips. We’ll talk again about the Path C Sticker Shock Sandsters are dealing with at the final signing (after your design stage is complete) and the reason it is happening.
Or actually, I’ll try to discuss all these topics…and probably get to half of them and half will be in the next blog. We should all have a hard date mid afternoon with a beer or glass of wine, a burger and some relax time with family & friends. I know I feel like I could sleep for a week straight – and if you’re in the middle of either planning or building your project, you know what I mean. One restful day quarterly doesn’t make any of us slothful.
Next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Date – 6/12/14, 6 PM Bricktown: Our next Nearly Famous Seminar will be held at the Bricktown branch of the Ocean County Library on Thursday June 12, from 6-8 PM. The library is located at 301 Chambers Bridge Road in Bricktown. Come get current RREM / HMGP information and have your questions answered. Our professional panel includes Evan Hill, PE from Dewberry Engineering, Kathy Dotoli, Esq. the Law Firm of Kathleen M. Dotoli and Scott Lepley from ARH Architects. I will be moderating and answering construction questions. It’s always an open forum for discussion so bring your surveys and flood elevation certificates. Seating is limited and refreshments will be served. Call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.
Politics and RREM & Governor Christie; Though I tend to try and stay out of political commentary (so much effort, so little effect), it seems that RREM is so deeply entrenched in politics and nonsense, that I am forced to take note. As you may know, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the Sandy Bill of Rights, only suggesting 150 changes that would make it acceptable to him. 150 changes aren’t that bad – at least it’s less than 1000 changes. It is also about 145 more than a reasonable person acting in good faith would suggest during a negotiation. This non-clearheaded action was taken despite the fact that the bill unanimously passed the House & Senate.
Really Governor Christie? Isn’t our whole government thing based on electing a few people who represent the interest of the rest of the people? Don’t you and the rest of the government work for us? Don’t we actually pay everyone’s salary in government through our efforts & toil, earning money and producing goods and services? Isn’t that enough of an invisible tax on our efforts? Does the NJ Government actually produce anything or does it just consume resources? If we the people are so overwhelmingly demanding a Sandy Bill of Rights, by what logic does a Governor refuse? (Can anyone tell I am rereading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand for the umpteenth time? Every point is true though).
Is there an alternate universe NJ that Governor Christie is representing? Can we visit them and do they pay taxes also? If so, can he lower our taxes in this universe a bit? Fair is fair.
Here in this universe we want RREM to offer and commit to greater transparency, clear and decent communication, and more funding per project as well as a greater number of projects funded. That’s doesn’t seem to be difficult for anyone outside of government to understand so why isn’t it happening?
The sad truth is that delays, lack of transparency and general inconsistency are only part of the problem.
The system and process itself is diametrically opposed to its own intentions in about 3 ways that I can fathom. The groups (HUD, DCA, RREM, the Program managers, DEP) all are motivated and concerned by different issues
What’s needed is a group of actual builders to square off for some simple direct conversation with a representative of the DCA, the DEP, HUD, and RREM. 4 builders, 4 government guys in a room, televised live. Everyone gets a water gun and maybe a Nerf football. Whenever something really dumb is uttered, you get a squirt or a foam football in the head. It should take us less than 3 hours to make some decent progress and 80% of what we decide will actually work to get the program moving (is actually working) more efficiently. I volunteer to be on the panel for free, as would numerous other excellent builders.
Huge Kudos to Senator Sweeney for his attempts to overturn the veto. It should be done and he is making the effort. Details in the link below.
Here’s a link to the Sandy Bill of Rights article on NJ.com
RREM / HMGP tip of the day: Thanks once again Margaret Q!!
Secret – What not to say to your housing advisor when asked about RREM or HMGP:
When asked from HMGP about whether you are waiting to hear from RREM, DO NOT say that you are.
When asked from RREM about whether you are waiting to hear from HMGP, DO NOT say that you are.
If you do, both programs will put you back at the end of the queue while waiting for the other program to determine your eligibility and you will wait another 5 months until your paperwork pops up in the pile.
That sounds great until you consider that RREM is run by the DCA (Dept. of Community Affairs) and HMGP is run by the DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection). It’s quite logical, although like an Escher drawing.
Doesn’t the DEP have enough to do? Aren’t they guarding the environment and taking 9 months to issue CAFRA permits for development and Wetlands Letter of Interpretation? Does anyone in the DEP have any experience in construction, construction management or grant administration? Is it just me or are these logical questions for any sane person to ask?
Who thought of separating very similar responsibilities between 2 agencies that don’t share anything in common except office space in Trenton? Is that bizarre or what? Do you think they had extra desks at the DEP that they wanted to keep filled?
Another RREM Mystery, Not Revealed…What I am (was) wondering …???? Why don’t we do borings first, since everyone needs them? I know now. Why does RREM wait until the entire process is 6 months old and you are ready to get started to tell you that a $25,000, $30,000 or $35,000 contingency contribution (which you don’t have) is needed from you to continue? I know this reason as well.
(Note: there are more details in the last 2 blogs if you want to reread my rants about this policy.)
Anyway, I initially thought I was missing something, but I figured it out.
I know why the RREM program does this and drags out the process.
Unfortunately, it would not help to discuss the reason, since it may actually hurt the Sandsters.
So I’ll keep all the aggravation of this one to myself for the time being…until I can figure out how to fix it.
No sense bitching about something if you aren’t proposing a solution.
RREM Path B Money Mystery Revealed – I recently figured out why the timing for receipt of the 50% first payment has been so inconsistent with RREM Path B. Though many Path B Sandsters initially had gotten large checks in the mail very quickly from the program, the delays and timing since then have been all over the board.
Actually, a client of mine figured it out and told me (Thanks Joe!). The simple, non-conspiracy theory truth is that RREM cuts checks once a month. It’s called Batch Day which seems pretty original (except if you’ve ever studied accounting, in which case you know it’s a pretty ordinary term). So if you do your request in Week 3 and they cut checks in Week 4, you’re getting money in about 10 days or less. If your request is submitted in Week 1, you might wait 5 weeks.
That’s pretty simple. RREM has no incentive to do disbursements more often, since an accounting function is not a billable item. More insanity. Multiply the cost of the delay by the many thousands of people who are waiting and you once again have caused a disproportionately large macro economic effect. Dear RREM, can we get on a bi-weekly payment schedule like the majority of the world. This single change would speed the payments up by 100%.
You Tube Link to the last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: A little late to the game, but if you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg
It is not edited and is about 2 hours so feel free to fast forward and skip around to watch what you like and need to know.
3rd Round of RREM Funding – Read about it at this link. Details and commentary will be in the next blog.
Searching the Rebuilding Blog: One of the (few) nice things about WordPress is the Search function. You don’t need to read every blog to find what you want – simply enter a key word and it will take you to blogs where the subject you’re interested in was discussed.
Special Feature for clients from Dream Homes: We take photos of all of our jobs on a regular basis and upload them to Dropbox. We then send a link to each client with their houses folder, so they can see what’s happening each day. Everyone seems to like this – you can feel very connected to the process even if you can’t be there.
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.
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.
Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog primarily to help as many Sandsters as possible, Dream Homes Ltd. and Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC are new home builders and general contractors who are actively renovating and reconstructing projects up and down the shore. We are actually doing all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B and C in the RREM program. 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