Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hopefully this post finds you healthy and moving along with your project.
We’re still in the summer and the weather has been beautiful. If we lived in California or South Carolina, it would be like this all the time, but we are coming into fall in NJ, which means we have to get our acts together and get projects going before the thick of winter. Last year we (unhappily) built right through the miserable winter weather and each year I pray that global warming will hurry up and land here in NJ.
Today we’ll talk about a few things, like a reminder about our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar tomorrow night, some miserable time issues with a few shore townships and how you can save time prepping your permit applications. We touch a little bit more on how to stay sane during the rebuilding process and we revisit some money items about GAP funding and RREM Design Scope costs under Path B.
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Tomorrow Night – Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be tomorrow night in Manahawkin at the Holiday Inn, where we had our July seminar. We’ll have Jeff Barton, architect and Evan Hill, engineer joining us and I will be fielding general construction questions and concerns. We still have a few spots left so if you are interested call me at 732 300 5619 to reserve your space. Light refreshments will be served.
Building Departments & Zoning issues – Warning – Expanded !!: Reminder to apply for your zoning permits as soon as you are able, even if other items needed for building permits are in process. Zoning permits have become and will remain, a definite cause for delay. (see the last blog for more detail). Remember – every building permit application in NJ must go through zoning approval first. No reason not to take care of that step as soon as possible and avoid delays.
More importantly, here’s a drum I am going to start banging on like a mad Aborigine and I have a feeling it will become one of my (justified, completely accurate) rants. Question for Bricktown and Little Egg Harbor and a few other towns – are you folks splitting the atom or just reviewing building permits so we can rebuild our homes? Do you have to look on the Holy Face of God for inspiration or simply review our applications to make sure we’re at least one foot above base flood elevation?
For me to call out these townships is a strong statement – for them to continually delay this process is absolutely unconscionable and more importantly, economically counterproductive.
As a note, I am not that guy – I am always polite, pleasant, courteous and give people, companies and townships (too much!!) the benefit of the doubt. I’m done with that nonsense, at least where building departments are concerned. It’s getting me nowhere.
I am now convinced that building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary.
Let’s all say it together – the LAW in the State of New Jersey (also sadly known as the Socialist Republic of New Jersey) is that all building permits will be approved or denied within 21 calendar days or submission and building inspections shall occur within 72 hours of being called in and accepted.
Just to clarify in case you were watching a Seinfeld rerun, that’s not my opinion, that’s the law.
It’s not arbitrary, subjective, or subject to interpretation. It’s also quite easy to understand, assuming you have access to a calendar.
Next time you’re caught speeding, explain to the fine officer that your township has been Sandy affected and therefore you are not subject to the same strictures as the rest of the common peepul. Let me know how that works out for you.
Think I’m annoyed? You bet I am. You should be also.
Let’s all start picking up the phone and calling the DCA (Department of Community Affairs) when our permits are held up. We’re paying our towns for permits and inspections – we should receive the service we are entitled to.
Lest you think this is a nonsensical rant, consider these thoughts. My single small company with 18 active projects is currently being held up on 4 different properties because of illegal delays in permit approvals. We are constantly held up with inspections that are scheduled later than 72 hours from being requested – sometimes over a week late.
How many other projects are being unnecessarily delayed because of bureaucratic nonsense? Heaven help the State of NJ if I put in the time to do a fiscal analysis of what this means to all of us living in NJ on a macro level in real dollars. I don’t even want to see that result.
If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the DCA and complain. Eventually something will change. Heck, most of the ridiculous RREM policies were changed after enough people yelled and screamed about them (and I wrote incessantly in this blog.)
Grrrrr…..isn’t this process difficult enough? Shouldn’t building departments be working with us and not against us? Isn’t it in everyone’s best interests to move the process along? How are the tax ratables going to be restored to pre-Sandy levels if building is delayed because permits and inspections take twice as long as they should? We have 35,000 houses to rebuild and last year we pulled 800 permits. At this rate, I’ll be collecting social security before we get close to finishing (I am 49, by the way).
Ok, enough of that. For now. Townships be warned. Sandsters are getting really tired of being treated like we’re an annoyance. We’re paying your salaries and it’s time you started realizing that – and high time we started reminding you quite loudly
RREM Path B – Design Scope News: It’s still not official, but is being approved on a case by case basis. If you haven’t received your first 50% payment from RREM, you can get your design costs paid by the program instead of from your Path B pocket. Ask your case manager about this item.
Helpful Note: Typical design scope costs, including full survey package, architectural/engineering design and plans and township building permits averages about $10,000 – $11,000. That’s a decent savings, if you can get RREM to pay for it.
Dirty Words and Other Unpleasant Subjects: From the last blog, I received a bunch of positive comments about the 11th or 12th Dirty Words, which are “problem” and “can’t”. Many Sandsters wrote how they immediately stopped using those words and felt much better about things!
Let’s all substitute these words and terms going forward and see how much better we feel each day.
Instead of “problem”, let’s try “obstacle”, “concern”, “issue”, “wart on the path of progress”, “opportunity for better understanding”, or “chance to learn and grow”.
Eliminating the use of the word “problem” from your lexicon will eliminate “problems” from your life.
Try it and let me know how it works. Keep a sense of perspective and remember what’s important.
RREM Path C Sandsters – Unfortunately, I get a few emails each day about Sad Sandsters Stuck in Path C. The unfortunate truth is that if you are in that position, you pretty much have to make the best of it. Yes, it is cumbersome and inefficient, but it is the bed you’ve made and you should resign yourself to sleeping in it, regardless of bed bugs and crumbs. The good news is that your project will (eventually, hopefully) be completed.
The bad news is that there are so many cooks in your kitchen that no one can even get an egg boiled. For all the Sandsters who have written and asked if there is some skullduggery going on, generally there is nothing weird happening other than typical inefficiency and contractor paranoia about the RREM process. If you’re dealing with a national out of state contractor, double your time estimate. Path C jobs do move forward, albeit very sloooooooowly…think glacial melting, global warming and turtles mating.
Repeat by request – Building in the winter? Constraints and concerns: We can and do build through the winter (this past winter was miserable, unpleasant, wet, snowy, rainy, sleety, yucky, crappy, frozen…did I say unpleasant?) but we were still out there uncomfortably freezing our little butts off. Most of the listed items are inconveniences as opposed to critical path items that cannot be overcome. The one exception is the temperature as it pertains to masonry construction. You can pour concrete and do masonry work at a minimum of 25 degrees Fahrenheit (and rising) with the addition of calcium (antifreeze) to the concrete mix. Any temperature lower and the concrete will not set correctly. Above 32 degrees F you can pour with no problem. Also, the concrete should set prior to temperatures dropping at night, or be covered with thermal blankets. Summary: winter at the shore is generally not too much of an impediment to progress, although rain, sleet, snow and consistent temperatures under 25 degrees will definitely cause delays in your project.
Reminder – Repeat – Common Sense: If you aren’t living in your home, and know you are raising or demolishing it, call for your electric, gas and cable disconnects. There’s no reason not to, and it will be one more item off the list. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.
Definitions: Elevation: Elevation refers to “height above sea level” and not the height above grade at the house or distance the house is being elevated. It’s easy to make a mistake with these descriptions and it causes much confusion. Example: If you are raising to elevation 11, your finished floor is 6 and your grade is 4.5, you are raising your house 5’ to elevation 11, or 6.5’ above grade. When you use the expression “elevating my home 5 feet” that means you are lifting it 5’ from where it is now. The expression “building or raising the home to elevation 11” refers to the height above sea level, not the distance you are lifting.
Survey: An exact depiction of what exists on your lot, from a top view.
Plot plan: A top view of what you are proposing to build, including new heights, stairs, entries, decks, etc. They are not the same and you will need both for your project.
Author’s note: It is legal to have your architect or engineer include the plot plan on the engineered drawings, but I don’t recommend it since it will probably cause your zoning officer to grab the Maalox. You may think you’re saving money, but 90% of the time you aren’t since you will have to revise and resubmit.. Your surveyor generally does a much more thorough job including grades, elevations and setback notes than your architect or engineer.
You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: 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.
Searching the Rebuilding after Sandy Blog for Your Topic: One of the (few) nice things about WordPress is the Search function. Just enter a key word and it will take you to blogs where the subject you’re interested in was discussed.
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’ll always try and help you or guide you in the right direction. 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 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 actually do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.
That’s all for today Sandsters and I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.
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