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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 12-13-15 Holiday Wishes & Helical Piles – Wall Option Notes – Seminar Dates – Code Changes and dates to Fear – Brick & Toms River downgrade – RREM Seminar – Getting Started

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –


Hello Sandsters –

I hope this blog finds you doing well, enjoying your Sunday and getting ready for the holidays.

In today’s blog, I’ll talk again about the change in the codes for Coastal A zones, since that’s a hot topic which is affecting many people. We’ll talk about Brick Township and Toms River Building and their continued refusal to move forward in a meaningful way with rebuilding. We’ll touch on helical piles and 2 different methods of using them in your foundation as well as mentioning a technique for saving money with your concrete wall. We’ll post a repeat of the Paralysis through Analysis section and try to encourage you to get past mental stumbling blocks. We’ll thank the numerous trade partners, professionals and clients that have made Rebuilding efforts a reality in NJ in the last year. Finally we’ll list 2 upcoming events, including our next Rebuilding Seminar as well as the NJ Home Show, both in Toms River in January.

Holiday wishes to all…Though I’m sure I’ll say it again, I am sending out a thank you to all our friends, trade partners, professionals and most importantly, all the clients that made 2015 another great year for Dream Homes and Atlantic Northeast Construction. Your input, assistance, numerous helpful suggestions and kind words have helped us to help many, many Sandsters get back in their homes! We wish you the healthiest, happiest holiday season and a peaceful, prosperous New Year!

Helical piles foundations and alternative Wall Structures – Notes & Thoughts: I’ve written about this in the past, and since the science is constantly being adapted and changing, I thought I would mention it again.

If you are unlucky enough to have to use helical pilings since you cannot move your house to install (less expensive) timber piles, you do have an alternative which can save you money and still give you the compressive strength that you need in your foundation.

The alternative solution is as follows: Instead of demolishing the entire existing foundation, installing helical piles and a grade beam, and then constructing a concrete block foundation above the new grade beam, you can use what is known as underpinning brackets.

These items are large steel brackets that are placed under the footing and over the new helical pile, which is installed either inside or outside of the existing foundation. It is slightly more difficult in certain ways, but the technique saves the demolition, the new grade beam and the block that would have to be reinstalled over the new grade beam.

When Sandy first happened, I remember talking extensively to Scott Lepley, one of the architects we work with and saying there should be some method of using helicals that doesn’t involve destroying the entire foundation and footing and rebuilding it. A year and a half later I found it at a trade show and started recommending it to design professionals as a more cost effective alternative to typical helical installations. We done a number of projects with this solution and it is excellent, both in time and cost savings. Give me a call with any questions you have about this technique.

Wall Structures – Alternative: Another cost saving alternative to a solid concrete wall is to install 16” x 16” piers very 8’ or so, as opposed to blocking up a solid wall. This saves money initially, and allows for the opportunity to fill in the wall with a frame breakaway or regular wall at a later date. Though it usually doesn’t save the cost of the grade beam (sometimes pier footings can be substituted for a continuous grade beam), it saves about 70% of the cost of the concrete wall. This is something to mention to your design professional as an alternative for some or all of your foundation.

Lacey Chamber of Commerce: We’re new members of the Lacey Township Chamber of Commerce and glad to be part of that team. I’ve only been in Lacey for 18 years and owned a professional building for 14 and never belonged to the local Chamber, which was a mistake. Stay tuned for some great fundraising events that are worth your attention. The next one is in February and is a benefit dinner offering scholarships to local high school students.

Scheduling Projects for 1st Quarter 2016 & Time Frames: To all of those reading this blog, we still have several spots in our 1st quarter line up for 2016. If you have your plans ready (or even if you don’t), give us a call and let’s meet and get your project scheduled. Reminder: It takes a month to start an average project from the time you submit finished plans to the township. It takes an average of 2.5 months to start from the time you start design work on your plans. The average elevation project from elevation day until CO is about 120 days, and much of that is due to delays at the inspection level.

Zone Change and Acting Quickly: Repeat – and I’ll probably repeat this in every blog until 3/1/16. For more detail, check the last few blogs. If you’re in the Coastal A zone and thinking about when to move forward you should get started now to save yourself a significant amount of money. Get your permits (either obtained, or at least submitted, depending on your paranoia level) before 3/15/16 or else you’ll be forced to raise your house on pilings, as opposed to being permitted to raise on concrete block.

This is an important issue, which will hit many Sandsters in the pocketbook if they are not aware.

These new UCC updates are 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 submitted by that time you are grandfathered and not subject to the new requirements.

What this means: 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. 

As always, 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. Your costs will increase substantially.

Again, see the 11-8-15 Rebuilding Blog for more detailed information.

As always, call 732 300 5619 or email me at vince@dreamhomesltd.com with any questions.

Upcoming January Events – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 & NJ Home Show – January 22-24 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River:

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 6 pm at the Tuscany Bar & Grill restaurant in Toms River, across from the Ocean County mall on Hooper Avenue. It’s a great way to start the New Year and get ready for your project to start in the spring. As we have been doing, we’ll focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We’ll offer engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and information about choosing the right builder or contractor. We’ll be in the Fire Room, which is a great indoor/ outdoor space with a fire pit in the center.

If you haven’t been to a seminar in this space, try and make it. It’s a room that’s great for conversation and discussion. This time, we’ll have Tim Ferguson from Hale Built House Lifting, as well as Kathy Dotoli, Esq., Scott Lepley, architect, and me.

Exhibit Schedule: We’ll also be exhibiting at the NJ Home Show on January 22-24 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River. This is a great opportunity to meet our professional team, since there will be plenty of time for discussion specific to your project. We’ll be scheduling appointments throughout the show so give us a call and bring your plans and surveys for comments and suggestions.

Building Departments & Zoning issues – Brick Township Consistently the Worst!!:  I’ve written about this issue so often, it should be its own blog. We are making the assumption that the business administrator is not responsible for the building department’s behavior, which is a generous assumption.

I am now going to devote my life to exposing Bricktown as the incompetent progress averse group of folks they are and campaigning for change in the process. Question for Brick – are you folks splitting the atom or just reviewing building permits so we can rebuild our homes? Do you have to look on the Holy Face of God for inspiration or simply review our applications to make sure we’re at least one foot above base flood elevation?

For me to call out these townships is a strong statement – for them to continually delay this process is absolutely unconscionable.

Brick has no concern with expediting the rebuilding process – their only concern is protecting their jobs and not getting the state inspectors mad at them. Truth.

As a note, I am not that guy – I am always polite, pleasant, courteous and give people, companies and townships (too much!!) the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want to grandstand – I like to be left alone to do my work. I’m done with that nonsense, where building departments are concerned. It’s getting me nowhere and nothing is changing.

As an alternative solution, I have a lazy, incompetent Chihuahua who could do a fine job staying out of the way of people who are actually doing productive work. He needs no benefits and will work for table scraps and a dog bed in each room. For soft food, he will review a building permit application every half hour around the clock.

After wasting time last year to meet with the Joanne Bergin the Business Administrator, Township Engineer and Dan Newman, the building inspector, and seeing no substantive change, we will now devote our efforts to direct communications and complaints to the DCA, Mayor Ducey, the Lieutenant Governor of NJ and all of the local papers. If Brick’s position is to blame the state for the fact that building permits can’t be issued in a timely fashion, let’s get the DCA involved to see if that’s the case. Let’s ask Lt.  Governor Kim Guadagno to explore the matter (our fine Governor is off somewhere diligently losing the presidential primary and ignoring NJ) and bring some resolution.

I am now convinced that building departments in the Sandy affected towns of Brick and Toms River are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit and inspection process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary. 

Let’s all start picking up the phone and calling the DCA (Department of Community Affairs) when our permits are held up. We’re paying our towns for permits and inspections – we should receive the service we are entitled to.

How many other projects are being unnecessarily delayed because of bureaucratic nonsense? If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the DCA and complain. Eventually something will change. Heck, most of the ridiculous RREM policies were changed after enough people yelled and screamed about them (and I wrote incessantly in this blog.)

Grrrrr…..isn’t this process difficult enough? Shouldn’t building departments be working with us and not against us? Isn’t it in everyone’s best interests to move the process along? How are the tax ratables going to be restored to pre-Sandy levels if building is delayed because permits and inspections take twice as long as they should? We have 32,000 houses to rebuild and last year we pulled 1200 permits. At this rate, I’ll be collecting social security before we get close to finishing.

Sandsters are getting really tired of being treated like we’re  an annoyance. We’re paying their salaries and it’s time they started realizing that – and high time we started reminding them quite loudly.

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 – Stepping Over Dollars to Pick up Pennies: Part II: This is a partial repeat from last week, and previous blogs. If you have been waiting for a long time to get started and aren’t exactly sure of the reason, this section deserves your review and 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.

We’re overloaded with information and that 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. That’s the issue that Sandsters who are stuck need to focus upon to move forward on their project.

“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. 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 “perfection”, you will probably 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: Winter 2015, Weather Delays & Pouring concrete in the winter: At this point, if you have submitted or are submitting plans to your local building department, you will be lifting in late January or early February. Depending on what type of foundation you are using, you may encounter slight delays due to extreme cold.

For some additional notes on building in the winter review some of the blogs last year, where 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.

Stay well.



Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

New Home Builder #045894

Home Improvement Contractor #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


Twitter: #foxbuilder

Calendar of Events – Join Us: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar, 6 PM January 13, 2016 at Tuscan House in Toms River.

NJ Home Show – January 22-24, 2016 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River.

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