Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – Rebuilding Seminar 5-28, Stop Yelling at Your Builder!, Don’t Use Elevation Contractors as GCs, Material & Labor Shortages

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Memorial Day Rebuilding Blog –


Hello Sandsters and Happy Memorial Day to all!

Today, I’d like to start with a tribute to all our service men and women around the world, who serve and sacrifice on a daily basis, in order to protect our democracy and way of life. Let’s all take a moment today to reflect on that, and offer prayers for their safe return. Over 6800 lives have been lost thus far in Iraq and Afghanistan by brave soldiers, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who served in World War 2, Vietnam, Korea and other places over the years. Our thanks and prayers are with you always. Once again, thank you for your service.

I hope you enjoy the day with your family and offer a toast to all our brave souls, both past and present.

The weather has been beautiful and it is supposed to remain hot this week. Summer seems to have arrived early.

In addition to our Memorial Day wishes, today we have more interesting news about RREM and FEMA, with a good link to an article in the Press, if you missed it in the last blog. We talk about the next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which is this Thursday night May 28th at the Manahawkin branch of the OC Library and we warn you again about dealing with out of state (and overpriced) contractors for your project. We remind you about elevations and how high you should lift your house and offer some thoughts on (pleasant) dealings and things to avoid when dealing with your builder.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Thursday 5/28/15:

Our next Nearly Famous seminar will be held this 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.

Finding and Working with Contractors – Beware Out of State companies! – Part IV:

In the last few blogs, I’ve written an excellent summary of items to consider when choosing a builder and if you haven’t read them, please go back and do so. To again stress one very salient point, I remind you that pricing will generally come in between 25% – 40% higher when dealing out of state, or with very large contractor/builders. Of specific note is the concern when you are dealing with one of the original approved Path C contractors. They spent 2 years giving pricing for RREM Path C projects which are significantly higher than fair market pricing and are now finding it difficult to adjust their estimates.

Recent comparisons for projects we have signed, with real numbers: Quoted: $282,000. Dream pricing: $209,000. Quoted: $143,000. Dream pricing: $103,000. Quoted: $128,000. Dream pricing: $88,000.

Be warned. Caveat emptor.

11 Tips for Good Communications with your Builder – Part II:  If you missed this article in a previous blog, go back to it and read it now. It’s really useful for effective communication and a great thing to reread.

Much of it talks about being nice to others. In that vein, I would like to stress a simple point that is sometimes is forgotten in the friction of day to day communication. You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

Q: Will your project get completed if you are grouchy, irritable, nasty, negative and completely stressed at all times throughout the process?

A: Yes it will, but it will be painful, difficult and you will be in a constant state of stress. It will also take longer and probably cost more.

Q: Will your project get completed if you are pleasant, positive, flexible, and speak to people nicely (as you like to be spoken to)?

A: Same result. Yes it will. But it will be much less stressful, go more smoothly and probably quicker, you will enjoy the result much more, and you will not develop an ulcer along the way. You will also be afforded more courtesies that are outside of the scope of work, simply by being a nice person.

It is also much easier to get timely responses from your builder when they are not certain that each communication with you will be unpleasant. It is human nature to avoid being yelled at and reprimanded.

Be nice, and get more…:)

Working Directly and Separately with Elevation Contractors and a Builder/Contractor for your project & Using Elevation Contractors for your General Contractor:

Recently, some of our clients have presented us with comparative estimates from several elevation and masonry contractors, who have decided to try and offer full service general contracting to Sandsters in addition to their core services. We caution you strongly about moving in this direction. Most of the Sandsters we deal with would like a complete, turn key project and that is rarely effectively offered in general and even more rarely from an elevation or mason contractor. Ask specifically for project references for complete projects, not just elevation or foundation work.

We are finding regularly that since complete projects are not what they do on a day to day basis, you will encounter much greater delay, errors and inability to perform finish operations for your project. You will inevitably wind up incurring greater costs and most probably have to step in at some point (or points) to pick up the slack for items that are not included in the initial scope of work. Be careful of this.

Professional contractors know (or should know) what is needed to complete a project. Unfortunately, many builders and contractors deliberately omit items that you will not notice in order to offer lower priced estimates, and then plan to make up the necessary difference with repeated change orders. This will cause you constant anxiety and additional cost, and you will wind up paying more than you would have with a qualified builder.

This practice has been around for thousands of years, is still reprehensible and we choose not to do business in this manner. It is a common concern and occurrence when you are dealing with an elevation contractor or a mason to do your entire job. They don’t generally bring the experience to the table to address and deal with unforeseen events.

Remember, your project is like a Broadway show. You need a director to make sure that once the curtain goes up, events proceed smoothly through all the acts to a successful conclusion. That is a particular skill set and one that is in short supply. You will not get this type of result with an elevation contractor or mason who does not focus on this type of work.

In addition, they use their in house crews for elevations and foundations, so you are stuck waiting if they get busy. They will not go to an alternate contractor in order to keep your project moving, but instead will wait until their crew’s schedules are open.

On another note, you should not separate the elevation or masonry portion of your project from your entire project scope. These are not items that you should direct yourself, nor will you be able to accurately monitor progress of your project or avoid the inevitable finger pointing if (when) events go awry. You definitely will not save money, though it may initially appear as if you will.

If you would like to build your own deck, do interior finish like painting, sheetrock and cabinets, or perform some other cosmetic, non-essential service, have at it and save some money. Avoid handling mechanical and structural aspects of your project yourself unless you are specifically qualified and have the time to devote to the effort.

Material and Labor Shortages – Welcome to the New Normal:

Sadly, we’ve all been dealing with material and labor shortages for the last 2 months since the winter weather broke, and it will be like this for the foreseeable future.

There is no way around this concern, except to effect better planning and deal with someone who has the resources to bring to the table when material, subcontractors and labor are in short supply. We deal with several elevation, masonry and mechanical contractors in each field and have the flexibility to seek qualified alternates if our first choices are not available. This can save weeks over the life of a project.

FEMA Insurance Scandal & RREM Reopening Claims:

On May 18 letters went 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.

  • I had an exhaustive list of bullet points in the last blog, and encourage you to reread it if you haven’t already. Here is a decent article to view.

View full article here http://www.app.com/story/news/local/monmouth-county/sandy-recovery/2015/05/07/sandy-fema-claims-letters/70939654/

Repeat: 5 Tips for picking the right Builder: Go back and reread the 4-5-15 blog – there’s good common sense there advice about choosing a builder.

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.

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 & Repeat: 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.” Sandsters up and down the shore are still switching from Path C to B, so do not listen to anyone who tells you that you are unable to do so. Call / email me for assistance if you cannot get past this point with your program manager.

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. Now is a great time to be working on your design scope and scheduling for a September start to your project. We currently have a dozen Sandster projects we are starting in the fall – all have either completed or are actively working on their design scope at this time so permits will be ready and plans can be made to secure alternate housing. Besides, 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s