Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 3-13-16
Hello Sandsters and Happy Spring!
I know it’s a week early but I start counting the days until Spring on December 22nd, and today we move the clocks ahead an hour. So as far as I’m concerned, we’re effectively in Spring 2016. Another positive thing is that each day after December 21st, offers us 1 extra minute of daylight, which is positively a wonderful thing.
Hopefully everyone survived the winter without too much damage to home or property. I think we got lucky this year compared to what could have been. Although March isn’t over, we’ve had some really beautiful weather and this week looks great also, albeit a little rainy. As far as I’m concerned, with all the other stupid regulations we have in this state (and country), we should make Winter illegal. Now that’s a sensible regulation…
Anyway, back at the ranch, I’ve been woefully remiss in blogging and it’s certainly not due to lack of subject matter. Ton’s of stuff to write about, so let’s get to it.
Today we’ll talk about the last week before the LIMWA (limited wave action) regulations are made effective for A zones and what this means to you. As usual, I’ll touch on some thoughts about the risks of choosing a contractor and evaluating a contract. We’ll remind you about our next 2 upcoming events, including our next Rebuilding Seminar on Thursday March 24th at the Toms River library and the NJ Home Show on 4/1-4/3, at the Pine Belt Arena. Both are in Toms River. We’ll touch on the misery of labor shortages of all types. Change orders and their effect on project delays will be addressed. Some great news for Sandsters on the new home front – we’re planning a 75 town home waterfront community locally which will open at the end of 2017 and be affordably priced!
First, let’s talk about March / April Events –
Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held on Thursday March 24th, 2016 from 5:30 – 8 pm at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, on Washington Street in Toms River. Once again, we’ll focus on Sandsters that are early in the process, and have not completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect. We offer engineering & architectural design advice, RREM guidance at the initial stages, and help with choosing the right builder or contractor. Please call to reserve a space if you would like to attend. We’ll have a few guest speakers and it will be another excellent opportunity for you to learn about rebuilding and clarify your options.
Next, we’ll be exhibiting at the NJ Home Show on April 1-3 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River. This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project. We’re scheduling appointments throughout the show so give us a call and bring your plans and surveys for comments and suggestions. If you specifically want to meet with Kathy Dotoli, Esq., me, Tim, Valerie, George or any other member of our team, call us for a schedule of when they will be there.
Okay, moving forward in no particular order….J
LIMWA and The Deadline: In case you weren’t aware, (and have ignored my last 3 blogs) 3/21/16 is the final date that a permit application can be submitted prior to the 2015 codes being enforced, with the LIMWA (limited wave action) zones that require more stringent construction technique. If you don’t submit this week and are in a LIMWA zone, you will not be able to add to existing block, but instead will have to construct a deep foundation system.
This is probably a moot issue at this point for most people, but there are some that are almost ready to submit for permits. If this is your situation and you have designed a foundation system that is based on adding to existing block, don’t miss the deadline by a day or two. Get off your butt, get the final item or two you need and get your permit filed this week.
Contractor’s Corner: Tips and Warnings about Change Orders and Causing Delays in Your Project
One of the most common complaints made by every human being who has ever undertaken a home improvement project is delays and schedule changes. I have a few thoughts and suggestions to improve performance if you’re already under construction, and how to avoid delays if you’re just getting started.
We’ve said it before and will undoubtedly say it again – the more changes to the basic scope of work, the more a project will be delayed. Many firms won’t even allow change orders without onerous charges.
Since I’ve been very client centered for almost 30 years of my adult life, I find it very difficult to say no to a current or past client. That doesn’t mean I am immune to the Contracting Laws of Physics, which partially state that you can have 2 of the following, but never 3: cheap, fast, or good.
Every time I say yes to a change being requested, it causes a delay.
Yup. No exceptions. As much as we try, and do our best, and continually improve performance, the reality is that each time either the plan or the original scope of work is changed, there is definitely a delay and generally an error.
Why is this? The reason is that each item has to be touched, digested and modified by 3, 4, 5 or more people. Adding an exterior door is not just a door – it’s an exterior light and switch, a landing platform, a header over the door and a plan update. That does not even take into consideration accounting, managerial and contract functions. That is one example and there are a hundred others. It’s never just the item you are changing that is the total of what is being changed.
So what’s the Moral of the Story? Changes are fine, but accept that they cause delay. Unless you have Magical Powers (and if you do, you need to call me immediately since we need you as part of our team right away…JJJ) changing items in the middle of the project causes time delay. Many changes = much delay. Tiny changes = little delay. This cause and effect is not a tragedy – it’s just a reality.
Contractor’s Corner – Part 2: Vetting Your Contractor with your Township:
We’ve said this before but it bears repeating – go to the township where your home is located and talk to the folks at the building department. Though they won’t specifically give you a recommendation (they will provide you with 3 names if you press them) they will tell you who they have had trouble with and more importantly, which companies are longer permitted to submit permits in their town because there have been so many complaints from homeowners about unfinished projects.
***** This is an important point. Right now, there is a very popular elevation & general contractor who underbids our company on projects consistently. That’s a great thing for you as a consumer, except their average project completion time is 340 days and ours is 120. They have 50 unfinished projects sitting in the air in Ocean County and we have none. They won’t be here next year and we will.
Saving money is only a good thing if you are really saving money and not spending it on litigation to get your money back or force your builder to perform. Be careful who you are dealing with.
Dealing with a company that won’t be around in 2 years is kind of like Rebulding Musical Chairs – it’s great for you until it isn’t.
Dealing with a company that will be around in 20 years is a good thing. We will be and many other good companies will be.
Ask your contractor his average completion time and ask recent customers if their experience bears this out.
Don’t be fooled. Ask at your building department if there is any problem with this company.
See the February 7th blog for more info on that subject.
Finally, More on Out of State Contractors and When it is Ok to Be Your Own General Contractor
When is it ok to do your own contracting?? Many of you may find this hard to believe when I say this, but it is conceivable, possible and even practical to handle aspects of your project on your own – and it’s an option we offer all of our clients. If you want to jump in and do some work and save some money, do it in the finish stage. That’s right – there is absolutely nothing wrong with building your own decks or entries, installing trim or lattice, installing a kitchen, painting, and even doing sheetrock. It’s the heavier, more sophisticated items (elevation, foundation, engineering, surveying, mechanical functions like plumbing, electric, and HVAC, insulation and sheetrock) that will make you crazy if you try and do them yourself or contract with separate contractors to get them done. Sandsters of NJ, keep it simple and stay sane.
Remember – don’t use contractors that are based out of state. Period. Why, you ask?
Well, if you’ve ignored every one of my blogs on this subject and want to torture yourself by hiring a separate general contractor and elevation contractor, you are in for a world of poop.
If you compound that mistake and you use an out of state elevation contractor with your local or out of state general contractor or builder, you created a situation where the elevation contractor doesn’t give a whit about your project, schedule or any other items affecting your house other than getting paid for the elevation work.
The elevation contractor may not consult with your builder regarding cribbing placement, scheduling, elevation height or any number of other items. They will also refuse to do any prep work.
Why does all this matter? You’ll be in the middle of your builder and your elevation contractor, trying to determine who is doing what, talking to whom and taking responsibility for each phase of the project.
It’s a recipe for disaster. You think you’re saving money, but you’re not. You may believe that the time for completion will be the same or improve and it will be drastically affected, for the worst.
Out of state means if things go badly here in NJ, they leave and go back to where they came from. If a local company who has been in NJ for a long time does something to damage their reputation, they’re stuck with the responsibility for their actions.
This is a wake-up call and word to the wise. Deal with experienced, insured, licensed NJ contractors with references and experiences. You will probably be sorry if you do not.
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.
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 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.
Good luck and good building!
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
Calendar of Events – Join Us: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar, 5:30 PM March 24th, 2016 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library.
NJ Home Show – April 1 – 3, 2016 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.