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Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – Dream Homes – Stop Being Ripped Off – Contractor Warning – Dealing with RREM $ Requests – Rebuilding Seminars in May

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –


Hello Sandsters and Happy Sunday –

I hope you’re having a great spring Sunday, with sunny weather close to 70 degrees. Days like this are a reminder to Sandsters everywhere why we actually pay soooooo much to live in New Jersey and why we’re actively working on elevating and renovating our homes. It also makes it (almost) worth dealing with RREM, LMI, DCA and the other alphabet agencies that make us insane here in the Garden State.

For today’s blog (and theoretically going forward), I have been challenged to write under the following constraints: Only 1 or 2 subjects, limit my new material to 1 page (Repeats, signature lines and definitions don’t count, but announcements, rants and general nonsense do) and post something in 20 minutes.

If I have that many other important things to say, I can repeat that process as many times as I wish, but some actual work product has to be posted in 20 minutes or less.

So Vince, keep it brief, and repeat if you really have that much wisdom to spew out.

The odds are currently about 7-4 against me. Don’t bet the retirement account on this one.

No time for me to “tell ya’ what I’m gonna tell ya…” so right to it.

Those of you who know me, know that I make a serious effort to speak and write correctly, both grammatically and with correct spelling and pronunciation. If you see any errors in the blogs in any of these categories, please call of text me immediately so I can address them.

Does Anyone (Carpenters, laborers, helpers, contractors) Really Want to Work Rebuilding New Jersey?  Atlantic Northeast Construction is running 6 RREM crews for elevation work and 3 crews for new home construction and we’re constantly hiring (and firing!!) at least 2 new people a week. We’re one of the best builders out there (we always promptly and are very honest) and always have room on our team for the right people, but good people are 1 in 10 at best. If you are competent and positive and looking for work or know someone who is, give them my email or phone number and have them call me.

DCA Dysfunction: For those of you interested in useful trivia, we called the DCA Hotline the other day. After 2 hours and 4 minutes of being on hold, we hung up. Don’t call if you’re hanging off a cliff or are hungry. The Department of Community Affairs (the DCA) is the government agency that administers RREM. They are civil servants and there obviously aren’t enough of them to answer the phone.

The RREM program is pretty bad, but at least there you are speaking with a private company who is contractually obligated to help you, and if your RREM Program Manager is good (so many of them are excellent – and almost make up for the dysfunction of the RREM Program) you can really get results and move your project   – and payments! – along.

New Townhome Announcements: 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 very affordably priced.

Calendar of Events – May – Join Us:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar, 6 PM, Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 at Tuscany Bar & Grill on Hooper Ave., in Toms River.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – 6 PM, Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 at the Holiday Inn on Rt. 72 in Manahawkin.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held on Wednesday May 4th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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 since refreshments will be served.

We’re also holding a Nearly Famous Rebuilding seminar in Manahawkin on Wednesday, May 25th. That one will be at the Holiday Inn on Rt. 72 and will also start at 6 pm.

At both events, our trade partners and professionals will be speaking. Rich McGowan from Prospect Mortgage will talk about some great financing options with the SBA to help bridge the gap from your RREM and ICC funding. Kathy Dotoli, Esquire, will also give her excellent presentation on precautions to take to ensure a smooth relationship with your contractor.

This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project.

LIMWA (Limited Wave Action) & 2015 Building Code: These conditions and codes are now effective and may affect you if you are in the AE Zone. Primarily, this may mean that you have to use a deep foundation system like helical or timber piles, as opposed to a concrete foundation.


Yesterday I went on another appointment where a Sandster couple had given a large deposit ($30,000) almost a year ago with no activity for 5 months, and then suddenly (after threatening legal action), their house was lifted and is sitting up in the air, and now there’s a request for more money. This is a formula that one particular Lifter is using at the shore – don’t get sucked into this.

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. One of the cheapest, most prolific HOUSE LIFTER companies at the SHORE has a lot (READ: $2.8 million) of Sandster deposits, on projects that are stuck in litigation or are under investigation for fraud.




Ask your SHORE LIFTER contractor at the SHORE 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 any particular HOUSE LIFTER at the SHORE. Ask for project references.

See the February 7th blog for more info on that subject.

Contractor’s Corner: Tips and Warnings about Change Orders and Causing Delays in Your Project

Moral of the Story Changes are fine, but accept that they cause delay. 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, nor can it be ignored – it’s just a reality.

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. 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 on WordPress. 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 and have completed over 1500 new homes and 125 elevation projects. 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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com


Twitter: #foxbuilder

Calendar of Events – Join Us: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar, 6 PM, Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 at Tuscany Bar & Grill on Hooper Ave., in Toms River.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – 6 PM, Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin.

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