Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Hello Sandsters –
I hope this blog(let) finds you doing well and enjoying your Sunday.
Today we’ll try something a little different and do a short blog (Bloglet) which I will also post to YouTube for those who dislike reading. People have been telling me for years to do more video of specific subjects that are important as well as action shots of home elevations and general construction. I’m going to try and do that a lot more often since I think I’ll reach many more people than with the written word alone.
Here is the You Tube link. There is a weird static thing happening for about 30 seconds, but otherwise it will save you having to read the blog.
In today’s video, I’ll focus on details about the change in the codes for Coastal A zones, since that is a subject which is affecting many people. We’ll talk about how this is insanity – changing the Coastal A zone to require V zone compliance may be a pretty effective way to de-people NJ, at least in the short term. In the written blog below, we’ll repeat the Paralysis through Analysis section and try to encourage you to get past that mental stumbling block. Finally we’ll review the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar which was last Wednesday night November 11th at the Tuscany Bistro Bar in Toms River.
Video Blog Section:
Ok, let’s roll. If You Are in the Coastal A zone and on the Fence about when to move forward – Get Started Now and Save Yourself Some Money!
Get your permits before 3/15/16 or else you will be forced to raise your house on pilings, as opposed to concrete block.
Evidently, I wasn’t clear enough about the urgency of this item, since a number of people have commented and complained that it is much more serious that most people know.
This is because part of me does not believe we’ll be stupid enough as a state not to override this change in the building code, and the other part of me always hopes for the best and prepares for the worst.
In any case, these new UCC updates will be a disaster if implemented: They’re in effect now, but we are within the 6 month grace period. They are scheduled to be mandatorily implemented on 3/15/16, but if you have your permits in by that time you are grandfathered and not subject to the new requirements.
So that does all this mean to you?
Essentially, the update to the UCC (uniform construction code) says that all homes in the Coastal A zone will now have to adhere to V zone construction standards. Until now, this has been a voluntary choice, as opposed to a requirement.
What that means in English is that if you are in a Coastal A zone, you will not be allowed to build or elevate on concrete block, but will have to use a deep foundation system such as pilings.
Some additional notes from Scott Lepley, our architect who spoke at our last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar:
- The Slab can’t be reinforced, or tied into the pilings or foundation
- $250 surcharge on insurance for second homes
- 2”x4” exterior walls no longer allowed – minimum 2” x 6”, with R-19 vs R13 insulation.
- When moving a house into the street, you must leave a minimum of 18’ clear traffic way
- You will be allowed to build a maximum of 300 sq ft in the flood area below the house before your flood insurance is affected. You can enclose a greater space but expect to pay a higher insurance premium.
- Everything on the first level is considered “sacrificial” which means FEMA won’t pay for it.
- Breakaway walls are required.
If you can move your house and demolish your foundation, you can drive timber piles for your foundation structure. If you don’t have room to move your house, either on or off your property, you will now be forced to use helical piles as a foundation structure.
The primary issue with helical piles is the cost. Generally, helical piles themselves are 3 times as expensive as timber, but that is not the only factor. With helicals, in addition to the actual piling itself, you need either foundation underpinning brackets (not widely used though they should be due to excellent cost savings) or a reinforced grade beam over the helical piles, which are both quite costly additions.
The summary is that helical installations add about $40,000 – $50,000 to the cost of an average elevation, for a home with a 1500 square foot footprint (a building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.)
The problem is that this additional cost will drive some people right off the edge and literally right out of town.
Unless RREM refines its budgeting for homes in applicable zones to allow for increased grant awards, many Sandsters may choose to vote with their feet. Sandsters of a certain age may choose to not deal with the additional height and additional cost of elevation. Add in the fact that it’s quite costly to live here in the Garden (of Eden) State and if the new codes stay in effect, I predict we’ll see a mass exodus of Sandsters to more friendly places.
Not a happy thought. If you’re in an affected zone, weigh in with your opinion at your township as well as the local office of your state legislator. If implemented, this change will be very bad for New Jersey.
As always, call 732 300 5619 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Here is the link to a good, short article about the new codes:
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 – Recap:
Our Nearly Famous seminar was held last Wednesday, November 11th at the Tuscany Bar & Grill restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. It was excellent and a big help to those who attended. As was the case with the last seminar, our theme was Getting Started. We focused
on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We offered engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. We spent a lot of time talking about the new code changes for Coastal A zones.
We were in the Fire Room, which is an indoor/ outdoor space with a fire pit in the center. We had Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and myself.
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.
Paralysis through Analysis – Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees!: I’ve written about this many times in the past, but it is so important that I am once again mentioning it for your consideration.
Simply put, don’t worry so much about getting it perfect, because you might not ever get it done. 99.44% of the time, “good enough” is more than good enough and not proceeding with a “good enough” solution will eventually yield you less of a result than just getting started with a good enough solution and adjusting as you go along.
As a society, the preponderance of information has caused us to fear that a “better, stronger, faster, cheaper, smarter” solution is another click, conversation or estimate away. That mind set can cause one to spend 2.5 years evaluating a 100 day project and that is the issue that Sandsters who are stuck need to focus upon to move forward on their project.
Example: Sally Sandster is obsessing over detail for her project and has spent 15 months in search of the elusive Holy Grail of Perfection. She is desperately trying to save that last 5% and is sure you can. She’s able to get estimates (finally!!) which show the cost structure she was looking for. However, in the meantime material and labor costs have risen 8%, the contractor she preferred is 5 months out and the codes have changed so she has to redo the engineering. Net savings (cost) on a $125,000 project: Negative $6500.
So you can be a wizard at costing and checking and making sure of everything you can think of, and still lose money on your project. Put another way, you can be absolutely right when you walk across the road, and still get run over by a truck. Sometimes it is the “unknown, unknowns” that cause us to fail.
“Ready, Fire, Aim” is another way of looking at it. Shoot, adjust your aim, shoot again, adjust for conditions, shoot again. The first shot isn’t perfect, but you are moving forward and adapting as you go.
A good point to remember is that there are a number of correct solutions or courses of action in any multi-variable chaos equation, such as a home elevation project. The chances are that your choice is just fine, although inevitably in life, the grass is greener somewhere.
The point is not just to behave foolishly and not think at all about what you are doing, but rather to achieve a
balance somewhere between thoughtful consideration and the analysis required for astrophysical theory. That will enable you to pull the trigger and get started, with the understanding and knowledge that you will constantly adjust to changing conditions as you move through your project.
If you wait to achieve theoretical “perfection”, you will never begin.
RREM Update – Detailed ECR (estimated cost of repair) with pricing: From the 10-23-15 Blog…If you haven’t received this from your PM, ask for it. Go back and check the 11/1/15 blog for detail.
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.
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.
Footprint: A building “footprint” is defined as the disturbed area of the lowest level including the garage.
Ex: a 1200 square foot ranch with a 240 square foot deck has a footprint of 1440 square feet.
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.
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 Sandsters, 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 a free 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