Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hello Sandsters –
Happy Election Week…if you’re Republican, you’re in Fat City – wishing for major changes. If you’re a Democrat you’re not too happy – wishing for major changes.
Imagine if positive change actually happened and we had some positive movement in government instead of juvenile bickering?
Here’s to that hope for all of us. May there emerge from the scrum a group of politicians that have clarity and wisdom and our best interests at heart!
That sounds good anyway – and it’s always better for your digestion and your sanity to look at the glass half full.
Hopefully this post finds you well and moving along with your project.
We have a few interesting things for you today.
We’ll talk about the 4 main issues with RREM and give you a review and a link to an excellent article that offers a great breakdown of the RREM challenges we’re facing (translation: why we’re screwing the pooch with RREM here in New Jersey – and how much better we’re doing than New York). We’ll remind you about our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar in Toms River to be held next Wednesday 11/12/14 at 6 pm. Finally, our new Sunset Beach model is framed in Toms River and ready to see. It is a beautiful house with a great island feel and perfect for the shore. We also mention the many wonderful heartfelt comments we’ve received from our clients.
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – November 12th – Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held next Wednesday November 12, 2014 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library in the Green Room. We’ll start at 6 and keep answering questions until they kick us out. We’ll be hosting Scott Lepley, architect and Kathy Dotoli, an attorney in Toms River. I’ll be moderating and providing construction input. Since it’s the Library, we’ll be sneaking in cookies and those little pepperoni & cheese platters everyone loves. Please call 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.
Where’s the Beef? Many people who haven’t gotten money yet for rebuilding are wondering where all the money actually is and why it hasn’t been distributed more quickly.
There’s a link below to an article in WNYC news called “Where’s the (Sandy Aid) Money?” which breaks some of the issues down fairly well.
To summarize, New Jersey says it’s the Feds’ fault, with the onerous, time-consuming (expensive, unnecessary) environmental, archeological, lead & asbestos inspections as large causes for delay. Very true.
The Feds say that New Jersey suffers from sloppy record keeping, poor choices of sub-contractors ($80 million contract to HGI for 9 months work and I think a light bulb was changed in an office somewhere, but not one dime was distributed for construction), and general lack of knowledge and preparedness to administer a grant program on this scale. Also, very true.
Everyone’s slightly right, but everyone is also a bit more wrong, and no one group explains the entire story.
In reality, we’ve only distributed $290 million of the $1.1 billion we’ve been awarded specifically for RREM, which is not where we should be. Granted there is supposedly another $110 million of work in the pipeline, but we are a far cry from where we should be in distributing RREM money.
It’s a decent short article that’s worth your review.
Continuing on that note…and because when a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, we feel a breeze in Toms River, I’m throwing out another point for consideration.
Question: To what extent do you think that the delays in permitting, plan approval and inspections are affecting the speed and ability of RREM to distribute money?
Answer: to a great extent. Delays are greatly affecting the money flow, for the simple reason that significant money is not released for a home project until permits are in place and work commences.
How much more money could we be distributing if we weren’t losing 1-2 months on each project from sheer ignorance and pigheadedness on the part of building departments? I’m going on record with a $60 – $75 million dollar figure for additional work that would already be underway, which is 20% – 25% of the funding that RREM has already released. That’s a sad little thought.
Maybe RREM and the DCA should start accepting the fact that the delays at the township level trump any increase in efficiency at the state or federal level. New Jersey and the Feds may start running at 100% efficiency, in which case the local delays would stand out, but I think that’s somewhat of a long shot.
Instead I think the delay is like a cancer or a parasite, which despite the best efforts of the host to thrive, inexorably drains small amounts of blood or in this case, kills small amounts of energy each day.
Mark my words Sandsters – at some point in this circus, this point will come up and someone will say, “Hey, we should really look at this permit/inspection delay thing. It’s clogging up the whole works here.”
Thank you to all the Sandsters that text, email and call with the kindest words for our rebuilding efforts. If I am helping 10% as much as people tell me, it is amazingly worthwhile. Thank God I am in this place at this time to help this many people. There aren’t many other pursuits in life that are more gratifying than helping people return to their homes.
House Lifting & New Home Fall schedule: We have about 8 projects starting between now and year’s end, and all but 1 have been plagued by permit and review issues. So, instead of working nicely in the brisk fall weather, we will be struggling right into the winter. Thank you Jersey Shore building departments near and far for ensuring that we will get tougher working in the dead of winter!
New Sunset Beach Model framed in Toms River: For Sandsters thinking of designing a new home, we’ve recently introduced a new model called the Sunset Beach. Stop by and take a look at it at 318 Rt. 37 East in the Pelican Island section of Toms River. (Be careful and park around the corner on a side street. Rt. 37 is very busy.) The Sunset Beach is a beautiful house with a distinct island look and feel. This model is being built at about 1800 square feet but is very versatile and can be as small as 1400 and as large as 2500 square feet. Send me an email if you want to check out the new plan. We’ll be starting the house soon on Rt. 37 West in Pelican Island so stop by and see us.
How New Jersey is faring versus New York: Though it seems like we’re moving on the wings of fleeting snails her at the Shore, we are like lightening compared to New York. To date, their implementation is 15% of ours – less than $40 million distributed, as opposed to $300 million we’ve put to work. Not that a comparison like this is much consolation to Sandsters who are still out of their homes waiting for RREM to finish some ridiculous study or other, but on a macro level and a historical basis, we are doing extremely well in comparison. Small solace indeed if you are still waiting, but it’s something.
Techniques for dealing with Jersey Shore Building Departments (partial repeat): Begging, fainting, feigning injury, knowing the mayor, the governor, the Pope, threatening to call any of these people, explaining that your project is a RREM project (60% of active jobs are) or threatening to call the DCA will generally not work to motivate your local building department to move at any greater than a glacial pace. Cookies occasionally work. Caustic humor sometimes will move the needle a bit. Usually, you just suffer…and wait…and wait.
Going every single day and asking nicely will eventually work – but so will doing absolutely nothing but waiting.
Sad (Repeat): Building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit and inspection process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary.
Tip to Speed Up Your Project (repeat) – Surveys/Foundation Location/Piling certs: Reminder to get your piling certifications and foundation / girder survey in to the township as soon as possible after your pilings & girders / concrete foundation is complete. Often you can’t schedule additional inspections until this inspection has passed. Surveys and certifications take time, so order them immediately after finishing your foundation so you won’t be delayed.
RREM – Repeat – Condensed note and reminder: If you’re not getting movement on your RREM file, look to yourself first because your PM is very interested in getting your money to you. Try and take whatever steps you can to be as ready as possible when your magic number pops up and you actually sign your grant. Having a contractor chosen and (even better) some of your design work complete gives you a real advantage when you are eager to get started.
Good 1st step to get started: 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. Also, have your builder or a plumbing / utility contractor do the water & sewer cut and cap. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.
Good Step #2: Start your design work. Soil boring, plans, survey, plot plan. If you haven’t found a builder who is handling all of this for you, there’s no reason other than sloth why you shouldn’t get it started yourself. You’re going to spend approximately the same amount anyway, whether you buy your design work from RREM or you do it yourself. There’s no reason you can’t be ready to go when you finally find a builder you’re comfortable with.
Remember, design and survey fees cost you the same amount whether you do them yourself directly with the architect, engineer, township, etc. or whether you have your builder or contractor handle that work. It’s just a question of being able to start working on your project, even if you haven’t chosen a contractor.
(The next item got so many comments in the last blog that I am including it again for amusement and reflection).
Warning – Do Not Try This At Home: DO NOT try and general contract your own home elevation project yourself…unless you are very experienced in construction and management, have another house to live in that is close by, have an extremely competent flexible disposition, have more money than you think you need and enjoy mental anguish. You should be single also, unless you really don’t care if your spouse is around or talking to you when you’re finished. (kidding but only a little).
This is not a deck or adding a room. It’s complicated and professionals make mistakes on every job. It’s not something that you should undertake yourself.
Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project:
Lowest adjacent grade (LAG): This is an important elevation since the lowest point in your crawl space has to be even or above the LAG. That is important because even if you don’t want your crawl filled that much (so you have more storage space) you will not pass final zoning / final building if this condition is not met. LAG is defined as the lowest grade immediately next to your house. There can easily be a foot or more difference between one side and the other, or back to front, so if you wish to use the least amount of fill (maximizing room in the crawl) make sure you find the lowest adjacent elevation.
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 your home 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.
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.
Go Pro Action – I’ve been strapping on my Go Pro, filming the chaos that is a house lift and have uploaded a couple of videos. Stay tuned for more laughs and (hopefully) greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.
This coming week we’ll be doing a lift and moving a house, which will be extremely interesting to see if you haven’t ever seen that process. We use Ivory Soap….and 100 ton rollers…:)
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. 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