Contractor Fraud · Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog · Foundation systems · House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County · New homes and elevations in Monmouth County · Pilings · Pilings - Helical versus timber · Rebuilding, House raising and Moving, Pilings, Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Seminars

Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 5-22-16 -Speed up RREM Payments – RREM Seminar 5-25-16 – Avoiding Contractor Fraud – Home Show Review

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –


Hello all and Happy Sunday –

It’s one week until Memorial Day and the official start of the summer season.

Be aware of time restrictions in your community that may affect your project – and your peace. Courtesy works both ways – if you are building you might like to actively work 14 hours a day but can’t because of summer hours and if you’re not building, you really don’t want to hear generators and nail guns more than 8 or 10 hours a day.

For today’s blog, we have some good advice on getting your money from RREM and keeping your project moving, tips on avoiding being ripped off, a review of the AC Builder’s show and the Ocean County Home show and our next Rebuilding seminar – which is this Wednesday 5/25/16 at 6 pm.

May Dream Homes Events – Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – This Wednesday

Review of the last rebuilding seminar ON 5/4 – IT WAS REALLY GREAT!!!!: We had one of the best seminars in the 3 years we’ve been doing this, on Wednesday May 4th. There were an entire team of professionals and a great bunch of people and the energy was excellent. A lot of good ideas were exchanged and several people called me after and told me how helpful it was to be there.

We always have members of our professional team at our Rebuilding seminars, but this time everyone was there and there was a full roster of professional advice available. If one were to pay for the professional time in that room, it would have cost in excess of $3000. It is a great value for you as a consumer and really nice to be able to help so many people in a short period of time.

Join Us This Wednesday, 6 PM, May 25th, 2016 at the Holiday Inn on Rt.72 in Manahawkin. 

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held this Wednesday May 25th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Holiday Inn on Rt. 72 in Manahawkin, which is just before Rt.9 on the right side as you are heading towards the ocean. 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 and we need a count.

At our Rebuilding seminar, both 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.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – Reader Survey: Do you have any specific topics you would like covered in the Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog that I haven’t mentioned? Send me an email or give me a call and I’ll try to include them in one of the upcoming bogs. Construction science is a pretty varied field and there is always something new, whether it is a method, a material or a design technique. Let me hear your questions, especially if it’s an item I haven’t written about.

RREM Payment Recommendations for On time Payment:

An ongoing topic is the delay in RREM payments and how it can be avoided. One effective method is to invoice RREM as soon as possible, especially with the first or second payment request (after the initial payment you receive). This may seem to be contrary to my recommendations about generally paying when work is completed, but it is not.

Ask your builder or contractor for an invoice prior to, or as work is starting, so you can get it in to RREM as quickly as possible. This way when the inevitable happens and the request is kicked back for a clerical error, you are ahead of the game.

Make sure your builder understands that the invoice is being generated to help with more rapid payment and the date is not the effective invoice date. This is important.

In other words, if your builder generates an invoice on June 1st for RREM purposes, but the work is not complete until July 10th, it should be understood that the invoice date is July 10th and not June 1st so the payment is not considered to be 40 days late. This may seem like a minor point, but it is not.

This will help with RREM cash flow, which has become a major issue up and down the shore. There are literally hundreds of houses up in the air because contractors are not being paid, because RREM payments that should be taking 2 weeks are taking 2 months.

When you receive your RREM funds:

Assuming you are satisfied that the work that has been invoiced is complete, pay your bill as soon as is feasible.

Steady cash flow helps any building project.

Keep on top of RREM and keep your project moving as quickly as possible. It’s the most important thing for you to do and your most effective contribution to your project.

Atlantic Builder’s Show and Ocean County Home Show – Reviews:

I meant to review these two shows in the last blog, but didn’t get to it. We attended both, and exhibited at the OC Home Show, which was at the Pine Belt arena in Toms River. The Atlantic Builder’s Show was at the new AC Convention Center in Atlantic City.

First the OC Home Show. We had a great weekend at the show which was held from April 1-3, originally rescheduled from January 24th (which was a blizzard). There was a very good turnout and many interested folks who were rebuilding their homes, building new, renovating and otherwise considering all of the above. Thanks to our current and future clients who came out to say hello and discuss their projects. Since we were there for 6-7 hours on Saturday and Sunday and a few hours on Friday, there was plenty of time for in depth conversation. Thanks to our co-sponsors and trade partners Tim from Hale Built and Rich from Prospect Mortgage. There were 2 winners of $50 home depot gift certificates and 5 people won a bottle of wine. We will attend next year, as long as they don’t hold it in January…the weather is too unpredictable.

Atlantic Builder’s Show: Coming back from the depths of the recession in 2009 & 2010, the show has just started to feel a little alive in the last few years. At Dream Homes, we send out entire management team and attend all the classes we can. These are held over 2 days (it used to be 3-4 days) and include varied subjects from specific construction technique, marketing and sales, legal aspects of dealing with municipalities, environmental concerns, and building to the new FEMA regulations. We found it educational and there is finally more serious attention being paid to the entire rebuilding / raising industry. This is a very different business than new homes and it is still not well represented in industry. Unfortunately, right after Sandy, there were many small, fly-by-night companies (who have mostly washed out) and serious new home builders didn’t want to bother with elevation work.

Now, real companies are starting to look at this market, which is better for everyone involved. Better for you as a consumer because you have more quality standards of comparison and better for builders because the rules of the game with townships and the state are being discussed by a greater number of serious companies.

What to do today about slooooooooow inspections? Hire Your Own Inspectors…Partial repeat

There is a provision in the state law that permits builders to pay for and have their own professionals perform inspections. What’s especially painful and unpleasant is that there is no provision to not charge inspection & permit fees at the township level if one chooses to do one’s own professional inspections.

Commonly, this is used in commercial projects. I’ve done this numerous times. It’s very efficient, but it is costly. It’s not a significant cost when you are building a $2,000,000 fifteen thousand square foot commercial property, but can be a material expense when you are doing a $100,000 elevation project.

We are selectively doing our own inspections now in Brick, Toms River, Stafford and Little Egg. It is moving the time line, but costing us money. I’m not advocating this choice – I’m making you aware that it exists. If you have the time, you can wait for inspections. If you are a building company and have clients who are extremely unhappy and need to get back in their homes, you can pursue this path and absorb the expense.



There is a systemic formula for fraud that one particular Lifter is using at the Shore – don’t get sucked into this. 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 his average HOUSE 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.

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat –

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it bears repeating.

Focus on finding someone you like and trust to manage your project.

You’ll be living with someone for 6 months or so from the signing of the contract through the completion, so it makes sense to do business with someone you like and are comfortable with.

They don’t have to be the biggest, or the one your friends all like, or have an office around the corner, or be someone who did your deck 8 years ago, but they should be someone you can talk to and understand.

That being said, in addition, and this is something Kathy Dotoli, Esquire covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar, your builder should:

1) Have an office that you can visit

2) Has been in business for long enough time to have learned how to do what you are contracting for

3) Have completed numerous projects similar to yours

4) Have current insurance and licensing and

5) Not be asking you for a huge non-refundable deposit up front.

If a builder or contracting is asking you to sign a contract with a non-refundable deposit, without plans or a defined scope of work, be careful. If an estimate is based on a set of assumptions which turn out to be inaccurate, you should have the right to cancel the contract and have the unused balance of your deposit returned to you.

Example: An estimate is given and accepted and a contract signed based on adding block to an existing foundation. After a soil boring and geotechnical analysis is completed, it is determined that a complete demolition of the existing foundation is required, and helical piles and grade beams should be installed. The price difference is $45,000 between the 2 scopes of work.

Should you really be penalized if you choose not to proceed? Of course not.

Sadly, many builders and contractors will absolutely hold you to the contract and not return any of your deposit if you choose not to proceed. Be careful.

Repeat: Good Advice – Contractor’s Corner

 – Tips and Warnings about Speaking Directly to Workers and Sub-Contractors on Your Project:

Short version – DON’T DO THIS! Maintain one field point of contact on your project – either the project manager or the owner – and one point of contact in the office.

DO NOT speak directly to your builder’s workers on the job.

DO NOT speak directly to sub-contractors on your project.

There are numerous reasons for this. The most important (to you) is that it will slow up your project and (definitely) cause mistakes.

RESIST THE URGE TO HELP YOUR BUILDER BUILD YOUR PROJECT – 99% OF THE TIME IT WILL BE A DISASTER. (That percentage is actually 100%. Since I am a math person, I have to present the possibility that an occurrence could happen. It is really unlikely though….) 

Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. One person steers the ship or it crashes into the rocks. One person has to own and accept responsibility for the completion and correctness of a project.

No group, association, committee or membership organization ever achieved anything of substance since the beginning of time without one individual leading the parade and taking the heat.

Lead, follow, or stay out of the way. If you are lucky enough to hire someone who is competent, try and stay out of the way and let them do their job.

Repeat: 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 pay 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.

Note: If you are looking for a part time job for which you will not show up, DON’T CALL US.

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.

Facebook: Please visit us and like us on Facebook!

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 directly. 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

New development: Dream Homes Mobile Web Site is now Live!

You can now log onto 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

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 elevate & move homes, demolish and build new homes, and develop and build new neighborhoods. In the past 23 years, we’ve having completed over 1500 new homes, 125 elevation projects and 500,000 square feet of commercial buildings. We work with private clients as well as 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




Twitter: #foxbuilder

Calendar of Events – Join Us: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – 6 PM, Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin.

One thought on “Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 5-22-16 -Speed up RREM Payments – RREM Seminar 5-25-16 – Avoiding Contractor Fraud – Home Show Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s