Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hello Sandsters –
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at the date of my last blog and thinking, “Oh, how pathetic that I haven’t written for this long”…and the time kept getting longer each day, like a nagging conscience….and finally here I am, scribbling away….
Anyway, I hope this blog finds you and yours healthy and doing well.
There’s so much to write about, I don’t know where to start. We’ll tell you about social media and doing your elevation project with your Facebook friends…and exult in the fact that the operators of an awful construction company (G&L Construction) were finally arrested for ripping off a number of Sandsters. The 2 owners were sitting in the pokey for a while, trying to raise bail. We’ll mention the latest FEMA insanity about changing the AE zone to require V zone compliance. From there, we’ll talk about relative differences between builders and best practices in a number of areas. We’ll touch on completion times for the average project, what you can expect and when you should be concerned. We’ll sink to the lowest levels of acceptable decency and discuss shore townships and how they’re doing. We’ll talk about reserving space for our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which is Wednesday night November 11th at the Tuscany Bistro Bar in Toms River and we’ll tell you about our new satellite office in Point Pleasant on Bridge Avenue.
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 – 6 pm:
Our next Nearly Famous seminar will be held on Wednesday, November 11th at the Tuscany Bar & Grill restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. As we did during the last seminar, our theme will be Getting Started, and though all are welcome, we will focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We will continue to concentrate on engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. It really helped to focus the topic for the Sandsters that are just getting started and need specific advice, and that will be where we focus at this seminar also.
We will be in the Fire Room, which is an indoor/ outdoor space. Our speakers vary, but we will most probably have Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and myself. The last seminar was really great and being able to have a glass of wine and some food was nice. The room only holds 25 people so if you are interested, please call or email me to reserve your space as soon as possible.
Dream Homes – New satellite office – 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant:
Dream Homes has been so busy in the Point, Brick, Manasquan area in the last year that we recently opened a branch office for client service, sales and construction at 2818 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant. We’re still in the process of fitting out the front reception area, but you are welcome to bring your surveys, plans and paperwork to that location if it’s easier than scanning, faxing or bringing documents to our main office on Rt. 9 in Forked River. Please call us for hours if you want to visit this location.
RREM Update – Detailed ECR with pricing: Some of the Sandsters reading this may already know about this item, but it deserves mention. Once RREM has done their initial inspection, you’ve signed your grant award and (usually) after your home has been cleared for asbestos and lead, you will receive an ECR or Estimated Cost of Repair. This list describes what RREM feels is necessary to bring your home into compliance with FEMA regulations. Until recently, this ECR did not list suggested costs, leaving everyone involved (primarily you and your builder) in the dark about common costs associated with each category and item. Needless to say, this practice was ridiculous.
Now however, if you request an ECR with pricing, RREM will haul it out of the secret archives and give it to you. This is an extremely useful document which you should give to your builder when he is working on your estimate. It also gives you a good idea of the midrange of pricing for items and categories. It’s definitely an item to request from RREM, so ask your program manager for it the next time you speak.
Design work and timing: Fall / Winter 2015 & pouring concrete in the winter. If possible, you should be submitting plans to your local building department so you can lift in November or December and (ideally) have a foundation complete by the end of the year. Now is the time to make plans to secure alternate housing because there are cheap rentals in the winter at the shore.
For a preliminary note on building in the winter, from a few blogs last year, we spoke about pouring concrete in the colder weather. With the addition of calcium hydroxide (anti-freeze), you can pour concrete as long as the temperature is 25 degrees and rising. Here in NJ that generally takes us into January, at which time the weather can be hit or miss until mid-March.
Building a Home Via Facebook and other insidious Social Media….Thoughts on Insanity Writ Large: Remember when you were little, you wanted to do something stupid, or potentially injurious to life and limb? Remember your mother saying, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” That is an excellent analogy to the mania and herd mentality that has taken over our society.
Sandsters, as I have repeatedly said before and I now tell you 3 times again – the repetition of idiocy does not make it correct, the volume at which you exclaim something does not give it truth and the number of people agreeing with you does not create a new Commandment.
If 150 people who are not qualified to give an opinion on a subject post their agreement and “Like” your comment on Facebook and you are wrong, you are still wrong.
If 1000 people on Facebook tell you that you are absolutely in the right crossing the street in the cross walk in front of cars because the state law says that cars must yield, and you listen to them and walk in front of a moving vehicle, you will still be quite dead.
10,000 idiots agreeing on any particular point, if they are agreeing with each other in error, definitely do not make that point correct. Water does not run uphill, we do need to breathe air and gravity affects all of us.
If you want a valid opinion in regard to your health, you see a doctor. If you want your brain operated upon, you see a brain surgeon. If you want your taxes done along with some financial analysis, you speak to a CPA or an analyst. If you want construction work done on your home, you speak to a professional builder, architect, or engineer and not your neighbor who works as a manager at WalMart.
Stop being part of the Borg collective. People with no qualifications that are sitting with a glass of wine opining on Facebook on elevation projects, engineering, soil analysis, architecture, code compliance and foundation systems, should not be your go-to source for information. They are actually harming you.
Most professionals will offer an initial consultation for free – take advantage of that. In addition, you can carefully listen to friends and neighbors that have completed an elevation project on their home.
Other than that, stop wasting your time and filling your brain with nonsense. It will make you insane and lead you nowhere.
Jerks and Thieves: Is it only companies that start with G?
GS Construstion in Barnegat: In jail for taking $75,000 from a poor Sandster in Bayville and doing nothing.
GL Contracting in Manahawkin: 2 owners are sitting in jail on $150,000 bail each after taking over $257,000 from Sandsters throughout the shore.
Thank God the Ocean County Prosecutor finally, actually did something about the 500 complaints about GL that were made. It is an absolute sin how some contractors are able to obviously defraud homeowners repeatedly, even though numerous complaints have been filed. What happened to deception and theft of services?
If someone takes a deposit for goods or services and delivers nothing, they should be subject to arrest and prosecution. The clearer this is to potential dirtbags, the less we will see Sandsters being defrauded.
Score card for Shore Townships – from 1 – 100, with 100 being the best.
We’re working in 14 townships currently, so we’re only able to comment on those.
Unless mentioned, assume the township has a passing grade of 70. We’ll mention those over 90 as well as those under 70.
Worst and probably never going to get better: With a grade of < 60: Hello Brick & Toms River. Do you hate your residents? Is there a reason that permits and inspections take 3-4 times as long as every other township? Is there no one who understands the personal and fiscal importance of putting people back in their homes after suffering through an event like Sandy? We absolutely hate working in both of these townships.
The mayors of both towns should create a new culture which is proactive and forward thinking, as opposed to cover-your-ass and trying to avoid a decision so you don’t get in trouble. A desk worker in Brick actually said to us last week, “Sorry, your permit is rejected, but I can’t tell you why and we won’t be mailing a copy to you until next week. No, can’t have a fax or email. Sorry, we don’t do that here.” True story.
Almost as Bad: Stafford Township with a barely passing grade of 70, and Little Egg, with a 72.
These townships are not much better, but there is hope. If you are lucky, you will get the occasional courtesy of a phone call to help your application or inspection move along, but usually not. No urgency, no interest. Both townships are making efforts and there is hope for them, but right now, it is what it is.
Good or Great: Hello Point Pleasant with a solid 90 and Lacey Township, ranking in the 80’s: Helpful, proactive, business friendly, interested. Thank you for your efforts! Every Sandster appreciates them!
If all townships at the shore were like the last two towns, we could take 5 years off the 22 year rebuilding process we are looking forward to here at the shore.
Remaining Sane – Repeat and continuation – This topic continually receives the most comments from readers:
No elevation project goes perfectly. It doesn’t matter how great your builder is, there will be mistakes and delays. It’s not how to avoid them happening, it is how they are dealt with when they occur.
This subject always gets a lot of comments when I write about it and bears repeating.
The saying “The best laid plans of mice and men….” is quite accurate and seems to have been created to describe construction projects in general. No project goes exactly as planned, but is rather a fluid series of events which is constantly changing. Having a realistic, flexible attitude about normal delays is necessary if you do not wish to wind up in a mental ward during your elevation project.
Note 1: If a projected date for an event is missed, do not panic. Remember: You are not paying to be educated on how to build – you are paying for a finished project. It is the end that matters, not each messy aggravating moment throughout the process. Keeping track of events means following a general time line and not obsessing over each detail. Believe me; you do not want to know each detail in the 1000 step process to complete your project. Again, that’s why you are paying a professional to handle the process.
Note 2: When a contractor or professional promises your builder an item will be ready at a certain time and your builder relays that information to you, he is representing what he believes will be occurring, to the best of his knowledge. If the subcontractor, professional or material supplier does not perform in a timely manner, your builder didn’t “lie” to you. Trust me – he or she is much more annoyed and inconvenienced than you are.
The moral of the story is this: 99% of the time things are not nearly as bad as you perceive them to be. Our perceptions, obsessions and consideration of other’s opinions rule us and cause us to become temporarily insane. Stop drinking the “It’s a disaster!” Kool-Aid – it’s rarely a disaster.
Contingency funds vs. Design scope funding:
I’ve written and spoken extensively about this item but Sandsters are continually confused about it, so I’ve started to include it below in the glossary of definitions which is a part of each blog. See below for more information.
Tip – Follow the Nearly Famous Blog: If you don’t want to miss any of my blogs, go the blog and “follow” it. Some times 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.
Stop FEMA Now Association: We’re now a proud sponsor of Stop Fema Now which is an excellent organization trying to save and protect NJ Sandsters (as well as other states) from FEMA tyranny. To get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is www.stopfemanow.com
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.
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.
Design scope: These costs are defined as architectural and engineering fees, all survey costs (survey, plot plan, foundation as built, flood elevation certificate and final survey), soil boring & geotechnical costs, cribbing diagrams, permit fees, soil conservation design, and wind load calculations.
Please note – you do not get $15,000 in cash to spend on your design scope. You get up to $15,000, depending on what your actual costs are. So if your design costs are $9,200 you get $9,200. If they are $14,000, you get $14,000. If they are $16,600, you get $15,000. The balance of any remaining money in the $15,000 design scope budget does not go back into your grant and you don’t get to keep the extra cash.
In the “to make matters more frustrating and confusing category”, if you signed your grant prior to October 1, 2014, you are not eligible for the extra $15,000 in design scope funding.
Note: I have seen a number of clients kick, scream & please enough to have the $15,000 added to their grant, even though they had signed before 10/1/14, but that is not the policy.
Contingency costs: This item is part of your grant package and is designed to provide for unforeseen events or conditions that must be corrected in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and finish your project.
These are not mistakes, omissions or errors on your part, your builder’s part or the design professional that did the plans. Rather they are items that are not knowable or evident in the actual structure until it is elevated, or the result of one of the shore townships deciding arbitrarily to change, invent or augment the existing building code. These items include (but are definitely not limited to) rotten or termite infested sheathing, wall studs or sill plates, twisted, broken or rotten girders, site conditions or changes needed to comply with current codes which were not in place when the house is built, upgrades to water pits or valves required by the MUA, installation of hard wired smoke & CO2 detectors, installation of condensate lines to the exterior from the dryer, and about 50 other items that we’ve encountered. These items should be itemized by your builder in a separate sheet and submitted to RREM. 95% of the time you will be reimbursed.
There is not a monetary limit to this contingency, although it is generally 5% – 10% of the grant amount.
The contingency does not come out of your grant award.
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