Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
5-10-15 Mother’s Day 2015
Hello Sandsters and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!
Today, I want to wish all the special Moms out there a wonderful, peaceful & happy Mother’s Day. I hope you are with family and enjoy your day to the fullest.
As usual, we seem to have skipped spring and vaulted right into summer with temperatures supposed to be hot and sticky for the next few days. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but much better than the cold.
In addition to our Mom’s Day wishes, today we have a ton of interesting news about RREM and the FEMA insurance scandal, with excellent summaries of the issues. We explain how you will be eligible to reopen your claim and give you a link to a good article in the Press. We talk about an important Sandy Rally happening this Thursday in Trenton, sponsored by Stop Fema Now. We warn you again about dealing with out of state contractors for your project. Finally, we talk about the next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which is Thursday night May 28th at the Manahawkin branch of the OC Library.
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Thursday 5/28/15:
Our next Nearly Famous seminar will be held on Thursday, May 28th at the Manahawkin branch of the Ocean County library. The library is located at 129 N. Main Street (Route 9) in Manahawkin and will start at 5:30, so we can be out by 9 and avoid being reprimanded. Unfortunately Kathy Dotoli has her own seminar that night, so she can’t attend with her usual excellent presentation, but we’ll have an architect or engineer, a representative from a local insurance agency, and me speaking at this seminar. George Kasimos from Stop FEMA Now may also attend to discuss the details about RREM reopening claims due to fraud. It should be another really informative presentation and sure to help you clear up some of the rebuilding confusion.
The seminar after this one will be in the Point Pleasant / Brick area and I will post details as soon as I have them finalized. In the meantime, shoot me an email or give me a call at 732 300 5619 and let me know your interest in attending the seminar on the 28th in Manahawkin. Seating is limited at this library.
Repeat: 5 Tips for picking the right Builder: Go back and reread the 4-5-15 blog – there’s good common sense advice about choosing a builder.
Finding and Working with Contractors – Beware Out of State companies! – Part III
Recently we’ve started working with a number of new clients who had initially worked with out of state contractors, particularly from Louisiana and Texas. Many of these contractors have completed few (if any) elevation projects in NJ, since their pricing has been generally up to 30% higher than fair and reasonable pricing.
Though I’ve said it many times, it bears repeating – Ask any contractor or builder (especially those from outside of NJ) specifically for the addresses of recently completed and current ongoing projects. If they cannot supply you with that information, the chances are they are not doing work because they are much too expensive.
Companies from outside of NJ do not have the personnel or local business resources in place, but have to develop them from scratch. YOU are paying for sales commissions, extra layers of management and new site supervisors, charges you will not necessarily be paying when you deal with an established local contractor. Companies that based outside of the state generally have no team (or a minimal team) in place in NJ, so they wind up subcontracting everything out to….NJ Contractors!
Remember – if you deal with an out of state contractor, they have no vested interest in finishing your project other than the detail in your contract – they don’t live here.
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 resources and experience with home elevations or new construction).
FEMA Insurance Scandal & RREM Reopening Claims:
On May 18 letters will go out to ALL policy holders who made a claim for Sandy damages. You will have 60-90 days to respond with the goal of this process being to have a final resolution within 45 days of your initial response after receiving your letter. If you need more time you can get it but the goal is to finalize the claim quickly since so many aspects of the process have gone on for too long already.
Some bullet points:
- People with engineering reports will be handled first.
- Once you receive your letter you must “Opt In” to review your claim by either phone or email, at which time you would schedule a basic intake phone meeting with your newly trained claims adjuster. You will have a direct line of contact with this person. Unlike the nonsense FEMA 800 number we have dealt with in the past, you will have his/her direct phone and email. There will also be a “buddy backup” system so in case your adjuster isn’t available someone else will be able to respond to you.
- The goal is for your adjuster to build a case and get you what you are entitled to under your policy. This adjuster will be working in “the best interest of the policy holder.” He/she will be very clear with you on why exactly something may not be covered under the policy.
- After you have submitted everything they need (pictures, receipts, plans, estimates, etc) they hope to have a decision within 14 days. If you are not satisfied you will be able to go to a neutral 3rd party to help mediate.
- FEMA will not pay for legal fees because this process doesn’t require a lawyer.
- If a house has already been demolished, there will not be an issue as long as there are pictures submitted with the original claim.
- Local non profits will be helping and working as an advocate for you as they have been.
View full article here http://www.app.com/story/news/local/monmouth-county/sandy-recovery/2015/05/07/sandy-fema-claims-letters/70939654/
RREM / FEMA Rally in Trenton – There is an Action on Sandy Recovery rally this Thursday May 14th at 8 am at the statehouse in Trenton where Governor Christie will be brought to task for not keeping Sandy promises. If you can attend and don’t want to drive there are a number of buses being chartered from the shore area so visit www.stopfemanow.com for more information.
Here is a summary of items to be addressed:
Dune replenishment: – Why is the NJ Attorney General not filing Eminent Domain proceedings against the easement holdouts? – Why are there no plans to raise dunes on Island Beach State Park? – We need sea gates on the 3 inlets on the Barnegat bay to fully insulate us from future storms (Point Pleasant Inlet, Barnegat Light Inlet and Little Egg Harbor Inlet)
RREM: – Why are NJ residents receiving 150K and NY residents receiving 300K? – Why is RREM not paying to raise the home 4 feet above the BFE? – Extensions should be 1 year extensions not 3 month extensions – What are VALID reasons for extensions with RREM? – NY residents receive 25K upfront for their engineering, architect, survey, flood certificate and foundation plan so that they can obtain accurate estimates. Why not NJ? – Why is the cost so high with Pathway C contractors vs. Pathway B? – Why are Pathway C contractors given RREM pricing, but residents on pathway B do not have access to the pricing? – If you are litigating with RREM then the money should be held in escrow until the case is settled. – ECR and WIP documents are riddled with errors. – All RREM answers to our questions need to be IN WRITING. – The RREM grant should stand as is. RREM needs to do their due diligence up front with no recapture because of RREM mismanagement or mistakes. – The rules and regulations need to be reduced and made definite. The program continually changes with the current rules and regulations on the RREM program at 180 pages and growing. – Changing from Pathway C to B. Why is it so difficult with denials for some homeowners? If the engineering cost is to be borne by the resident, they should receive all the engineering reports. – Requests to RREM should be answered in writing in a timely fashion (3 working days). – OMBUDSMAN – we need one with POWER who can get answers quickly. – ECR needs to be correct before moving forward with construction. – Homeowner should be given ECR pricing. – $15,000 for “soft costs” Why are some people receiving this as an addition to the $150K grant and others as a “contingency”? – Pathway “C” residents must have itemized cost of project. – Why are Pathway “C” residents “banned” from their own homes during construction? – Pathway “C” residents should be able to move to Path “B” easily. – Pathway “C” contractors are paid for engineering but when a homeowner switches to Path B they are not given the engineering work performed.
Utility Companies: – Why does it take so long to cut off and turn on the utilities? – Why are homeowners required to pay $10,000 for utility pole movement?
Permits: – We need a streamlined process to approve permits in a timely fashion. – Why is the cost of the permits not picked up by NJ Government as part of the RREM grant? – The Boards of Adjustment for each town need to meet every two weeks, to review Sandy applications. – Even if Sandy homes have been demolished their status should be grandfathered. Real Estate Taxes: – Real estate taxes should be reduced until our homes are raised and rebuilt. – After raising / rebuilding our homes our taxes should not be raised because of renovations. – Our overpaid real estate taxes since Sandy should be repaid back to Sandy damaged homeowners.
Water, Electric, Taxes and Sewer Bills: – Should be credited to displaced victims during displacement.
Funding to raise homes: – Low interest loans should be made available, by the state, to all Sandy damaged properties (Primary, 2nd homes, rentals and comm. properties), regardless of credit rating or equity in home.
Rental Assistance: – Rental assistance should be granted until homeowners are back in their home AFTER the lift. – The rental assistance period should be extended and increased to more than $825 a month.
Dredging: – Many lagoon systems are still filled up with sand and need dredging
– Why is the NJ Dept. of Banking not applying pressure to NFIP WYO insurance companies writing other insurance in NJ?
– The $25 Million in Sandy Funds spent for the “Stronger than the Storm” advertisement should be returned to the RREM pool.
– HGI should be sued for the funds given to them to administer the RREM program, since they were fired a few months into a 4 year contract. They were almost paid in full after being fired.
This Rally should be quite interesting. If 50% of the issues are addressed, it will be a resounding success. If at all possible, try and attend.
Tip: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go 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.
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. Note that this item will now be changed, since you will be able to reopen a claim based on the insurance fraud issues.
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.
Path C to Path B – Update: 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.
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: Fall 2015. Unless you are picking up a building permit tomorrow, it’s now probably too late for you to be back in your house by summer (unless it is a very simple lift with no complications). If you aren’t ready to file for permits 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.
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