Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 4-5-15 – Happy Easter! Rebuilding Seminar Review – FEMA Insurance scandal – Working with Experienced Contractors – 5 tips for Picking your Builder

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –


Hello Sandsters and Happy Easter!

Easter is particularly suited to the aftermath of Storm Sandy, since we are and will be in a state of rebirth for at least the next decade and a half. Sandsters have learned that every day is a new day and an opportunity to do something good, positive and forward thinking for yourself, your family and your life.

Today, I want to wish you and your families a blessed, peaceful happy Easter Sunday and more importantly, good health and prosperity in the coming year.

As an additional bonus it is beautiful outside today. Hopefully you’ll get to enjoy a little of this nice weather.

Today in addition to our Easter wishes, we review our Rebuilding Seminar of last week and plan the next ones in Manahawkin and Point Pleasant. We have more interesting news about the FEMA insurance scandal and a tribute to the brave engineer who stood up for all of us. We’ll also give you 5 great ideas for choosing a builder for your project. We talk again about RREM payment delays and making sure your builder can keep moving your project when the money sloooooooows down during your project.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Review: Thanks to our speakers and everyone who attended the Rebuilding Seminar last Thursday, April 26th, at the Toms River Library – you were great and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. For those who couldn’t make it, you missed a great seminar. Kathy Dotoli spoke at length about ways to evaluate and choose a builder, as well as discussing potential concerns and aspects of signing a contract. George Kasimos from Stop FEMA Now also spoke regarding the latest FEMA policies and the efforts his organization is making to protect our property rights, which was very informative.

Our next Nearly Famous seminar will be held in early May and will probably be in the Manahawkin area. We are also planning one in mid May in the Point Pleasant area. I will post details as soon as I have them finalized, but in the meantime, shoot me an email and let me know your interest in attending either or these seminars.

Welcome to a number of new clients #2 – Thanks for trusting us with your project!  I want to send another thank you and warm welcome to more new clients…Matt & Erin, Jacqueline and James, Carol & David… Spring has sprung and a lot of people are finally comfortable pulling the trigger on their projects. It is a compliment to us that so many Sandsters have chosen to entrust us with their project. We appreciate and work very hard to be worthy of that consideration.

5 Tips for picking the right Builder:

  1. Your final choice should be someone you are comfortable speaking and communicating with. Important.
  2. They should have a local office that you can visit if needed.
  3. They should be experienced in the type of work you need completed. IE: The contractor who did the kitchen or the refinish after Sandy may not be experienced enough to lift your home.
  4. They should be financially sound enough to fund your project through to completion, even in the event that payment is delayed due to RREM. IE: If they have to continue working even when owed $70,000, $80,000 or $90,000 on your project, will they be willing and able to do so?
  5. They should be fairly priced – within 10% – 15% of the median of any other estimates you may have received.

IE: If you have 2 estimates that average $125,000, an estimate at $138,000 is certainly reasonable. An estimate of $165,000 is probably not.

Hello to Laguna Beach in Point Pleasant! If you live in Laguna Beach in Point Pleasant, we’ll be working in that entire neighborhood for at least the next few years. Give us a call and we’ll start a file on your project and get you an estimate. (Note: Nita, and other Sandsters, if you’re reading this, we are purchasing Sandy properties in that area so contact me if you have anything.)

Tip: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go to the blog and “follow” it. Sometimes I don’t send email alerts when I blog. If you “follow” the blog you will get an email reminder whenever I post. We’re also on Facebook if you want to Friend us or post a comment.

FEMA Insurance Scandal: If you missed the last blog about this item, please go back and read it or go to www.stopfemanow.com for more info. Thanks primarily to the bravery and integrity of one honest engineer, a wide spread fraud scandal has been uncovered, where several engineering and insurance companies were working together to defraud the public by disallowing over 96% of all Sandy structural claims. It is an amazing story and an inspiration to all of us.

Thankfully, FEMA has agreed to reopen any or all of the 142,000 claims, based on whether benefits were denied you under the structural portion of your insurance policy. You can read more about it here.


If this is something that you feel might help you, you might want to file an appeal and reopen your claim.

Repeat – RREM appeals – Recommend Foundation Only: If the difference between your grant award and the cost from the builder you wish to use is minimal (usually under $10,000), you are probably better off not bothering with an appeal. If there is a substantial difference in the assumptions RREM made and the actual condition of your house (the most common item is different foundation assumptions), then an appeal is worthwhile.  Example: If RREM says you can elevate on existing block and your soil boring and geotechnical analysis dictate a deep foundation system (helical or timber), that is definitely an item worth appealing.

11 Tips for Good Communications with your Builder – Part 1:  If you missed this in the last blog, go back to it and read it now. It’s really useful for good communication and a good thing to read on Easter. It talks about being nice to others.

Stop FEMA Now Association: We’re now a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now (www.stopfemanow.com) which is an excellent organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters (as well as other states) from FEMA tyranny. Those folks are doing more to try and protect the interests of Sandsters than all the HUD and DCA committees combined. George and his organization are actually attempting to change policy to improve the situation for thousands of Sandsters and that is an effort we wholeheartedly support. If you want to get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is listed above in this paragraph.

A reminder to Sandsters still considering Path C, “Time is much more valuable than money. Don’t waste one minute of your life on a pursuit (Path C) where the guidelines are completely unclear and subject to change.” Put in simple language, “If you don’t understand the rules of the game, don’t play.” As we’ve said, you are much better off trusting the potential level of your skill and attentive common sense than a government entities’ fairly certain non-interested incompetence. Remember – if you deal with an out of state contractor, they have no vested interest in finishing your project other than your contract – they don’t live here.

Finding and Working with Experienced Contractors – Part II

We’ve said many times that it is vitally important that your contractor or builder have experience with actual elevation projects, as well as experience dealing with RREM paperwork and payment delays. The contractor who did your interior renovation after Sandy is probably not the person who should do your elevation project. That is not because they are not a good contractor. They might be a great contractor, but not familiar with elevation and RREM work. Ask specifically if they are familiar with RREM paperwork requirements as well as the delays in payment. You don’t want your contractor or builder to stop working because RREM is paying slowly and they can’t fund operations on your house. You also don’t want them to stop because an issue comes up (which it inevitably will) and they don’t know how to deal with it.

Tip: Find a builder you trust, who has significant elevation experience (at least a dozen completed elevation projects), who you can vet sufficiently (references, other projects, local offices, active jobs) rather than use a big name you don’t know or an out of state company. Competence, continuity in business, reputation and company history are very important. Size should not necessarily be the only deciding factor – good builders and contractors come in all shapes and sizes (although your choice should be large enough to have sufficient experience with home elevations or new construction).

New development: Dream Homes Mobile Web Site is now Live!

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com from your mobile device and see a mobile site tailored to a smaller screen. Hopefully this is helpful to mobile Sandsters.

Design work and timing: Summer & Fall 2015. If you have your design work complete and you hurry, you can just about be back in your house mid summer if you can file for permits in the next few weeks. If that’s your goal, call us so we can help you make that happen. If you aren’t quite ready to file or are just starting your design scope, it is a great time to schedule for a September start to your project. We currently have a dozen Sandsters who we are starting in the fall – it’s too much stress for them to get it done before summer and there are much cheaper rentals in the fall/winter at the shore.

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.

HVAC Elevation height in crawl space: This must be considered when planning your lift. This is the elevation of the lowest duct, furnace or air handler in your crawl space. Most townships require a minimum elevation of base flood, some townships have no restriction, and some are at minimum BF + 1 to the bottom.

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.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. Don’t wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point. 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 an email or left a voice mail and haven’t received a response, try and contact me again. Messages are lost occasionally.

Note to Sandsters: Though I 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 clients 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.

Stay well.



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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

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