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Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 11-8-15 – Rebuilding Seminar Tuscan House 11-11-15 – Action Alert – Code Change Coastal A – Good Guys & Bad Guys – Paralysis through Analysis

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –


Hello Sandsters –

I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying your Sunday.

Today we’ll stress about the latest FEMA insanity about changing the Coastal A zone to require V zone compliance and how it’s a pretty effective way to de-people NJ, at least in the short term. From there, we’ll talk about relative differences between builders and what constitutes the Good Guys and the Bad Guys. We’ll touch on Paralysis through Analysis and how to avoid it. Finally 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. This may be the last one this year, so if you are just getting started or need some pointed advice prior to January, make your reservation now. As was the case with the last seminar, our theme will be Getting Started. We’ll 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.

We will be in the Fire Room, which is an indoor/ outdoor space. We will have Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and myself. It was really great to be able to have a glass of wine and some food while we talked. The room only holds 25 people so if you are interested, please call or email me to reserve your space as soon as possible.

Call to Action  – If You Are A Sandster on the Fence – Get Started Now to Save Money!!

If you are in a Coastal A zone, get your permits before 3/15/16 or else you will be forced to raise on pilings, as opposed to concrete block.

Evidently, I wasn’t clear enough about urgency, since a number of people commented. Here’s a reprint from last week, with a focus on what will happen if you don’t get your permits before March.

Part of me does not believe we will 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. Read below.

Potentially Scary Upcoming Events: New UCC updates will be a Disaster if implemented: They are in effect now, but we are within the 6 month grace period. They are scheduled to go into effect 3/15/16.

Here is the link to a good, short article:


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 to all of us at the shore, 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. There are other minor items (breakaway walls are required and concrete slabs can’t be tied into the piles or foundation structure), but the piling issue is the most important.

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, helicals themselves are 3 times as expensive as timber, but that is not the only factor. With helicals, in addition you need either foundation underpinning brackets (not widely used though they should be due to cost savings of not having to demolish the foundation and footings) or a monolithic grade beam over the helicals, which is quite costly.

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 you’ll see a mass exodus of Sandsters to more friendly places.

Not a happy thought. If you are 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.

Builders, Saints and Sinners: Good Guys & Bad Guys – Part 2:

A few of the key people on our team have spoken to me about this recently, and I have heard it from some of our trade partners as well. It’s an observation about honesty, perspective and value and I wanted to share it, since it will help your sanity when you are rebuilding. I won’t write a book about this topic since it’s pretty simple.

Essentially, we start with the theory that 95% of the folks practicing any vocation, are reasonably honest and do not attempt to steal from or defraud their fellow man. That means that at the core, unless your builder or contractor has left and closed up shop, taking your hard earned dough with him without performing any service, he or she falls into the 95% group. Those are the Good Guys and they range in quality from Grade A to Grade D, like any other trade or profession. Grade F is reserved for thieves and criminals.

What does this mean? Differences of opinion between people are normal and not necessarily indicative of dishonesty.

So if you are in the middle of your project, there is progress and your builder is proceeding, your project does not have mechanic’s liens and employees and subcontractors are not showing up at your home demanding payment, then the worst thing that will happen at the end is that things might not be perfectly as you would like them to be.

That is infinitely better than being robbed or defrauded, or having your builder go bankrupt or be unable to complete your project due to lack of resources and knowledge.

It’s a matter of perspective. If the deck boards are not exactly as you would have liked them placed (or any other minor item), you can either pay to have it repaired or live with it. If the paint touch ups are not done correctly, it’s not the end of the world.

If you call your builder and there is a disconnected announcement and the furniture is gone from their office, you have serious issues.

The Moral of the Story?: 95% of the time, it can always be worse and usually much worse than you think.

Keeping things in perspective will help you stay sane. Again, I will paraphrase: “It is not our preferences that make us crazy, but our attachment to them…”

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. The chances are that your choice is just fine, although inevitably in life, the grass is greener somewhere.

The salient 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 last blog for detail.

Design work and timing: Fall / Winter 2015, Pouring concrete in the winter & BEATING THE CHANGE IN BUILDING REQUIREMENTS (SEE THE POTENTIALLY SCARY PARAGRAPH ABOVE):

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.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you get your permit prior to 3/15/16, you can still build under the current regulations, which means you can add concrete block to an existing foundation, as opposed to driving pilings.

See the paragraph above for details, and search the blog for many writings about foundation systems and their various attributes and costs.

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.

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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