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Dream Homes Ltd. Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 12-13-16

Hello Sandsters –

Hopefully your holiday season has been good and not too stressful.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged last and I do miss speaking with all of you. Though it takes a bit of time to do it correctly, I miss the writing and wish I made time to do it more often. I think of it like a private conversation I’m having with thousands of people, since over the years, literally hundreds of you have called or written and spoken as if we knew each other well. That’s true in a sense, through the blog.

We have a number of interesting items for you today, not the least of which is a sincere note of thanks to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, for responding to my open letter to her regarding suggested RREM changes. We mention our next Rebuilding Seminar, which is January 18th in the new year. We talk again about foundation systems and options and mention re-opening your insurance claim. We extend a warm welcome to our numerous new clients who’ve chosen to entrust us with their projects and wish a POX on all the folks out there who are defrauding other people – both contractors and homeowners.


January (1/18/17) Dream Homes Seminar:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Wednesday January 18th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.    We’re holding this seminar for 4 years and counting…

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday January 18th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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 space is limited.


So, let us begin, shall we? Once more into the breach, as they say…J


To begin, let us offer a sincere thanks to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, for her handwritten response and follow up to my letter of early October. While many other politicians and public figures have written thank you notes over the years, Kim Guadagno has consistently proven to be a classy, effective, responsive politician who is certainly deserving of all of our votes if (when??) she runs for governor in the next election. I mentioned in that October blog how she stood in front of 5000 + people at a builder’s convention, in the midst of the greatest economic cluster &$%# in recent history, and offered everyone her cell number to call if there was a problem they couldn’t resolve. Seriously? Who does that? One of the only other people that I know who takes ultimate responsibility for their organization’s actions and behavior is me. Other than that, Kim’s pretty unique.


Anyway, I received a handwritten letter, and a follow up call with Dan Kelly from the governor’s office, which ultimately wound up in a conference call to exchange views and suggest improvements to current policy. I felt it was positive and I think Dan did as well. On our end, we got the very clear impression that out input was not only being considered, but evaluated for possible constructive and reformative courses of action. Regardless of exactly what transpires, we got the distinct impression that our input was valuable and Sandsters opinions were being heard.


Which leads me into the next recurring subject – fraud, in all of its various and sundry iterations.


One of the discussion points which was very interesting was the various phases of fraud which have occurred since Storm Sandy in October of 2012. We’ve certainly encountered our share of nonsense since Sandy and fraud has now been categorized in three phases. Phase 1 was all the happy folks who decided that their vacation and second homes were now primary residences, considering they were suddenly getting divorced, separated or otherwise held apart due to emotional difficulties. That worked for about an hour and many enterprising folks were hauled off to the pokey, and shamed into paying fines and penalties.

Author’s note: One can easily make the case (especially in NJ, land of really high taxes and insurance rates) that trying to get money from the government to renovate and restore your shore house that you’ve been paying insurance and taxes on for about 80 years puts you on the side of the angels. I think the whole discrepancy between that issue and consumer/contractor fraud is really splitting hairs – I think RREM grants should definitely have covered 2nd homes since they were 70% of the affected real estate.

Forgive me, for I digress. Back on point…

Phase 2 was the group of contractors who defrauded all the poor people who suffered tremendously due to Sandy. I have no words for this type of garbage. We have been and continue to help Sandsters and others who have fallen victim to contractor fraud and are stuck with abandoned projects. I’m proud to say that we’re one of the only companies that I know who will step into a half -finished project and bring it to completion. Most builders don’t want the headache or liability.

Meanwhile, many of these folks have been indicted or are under investigation and the RREM fraud task force is starting to rack up some wins for the good guys. It takes time (much too much if you are a victim of fraud) but eventually justice is served in most cases. There are still a few whales out there who are about to be indicted but many, many larcenous contractors have been indicted, prosecuted and banned from the industry.


Which brings us to the 3rd wave, which is consumer fraud once again, albeit of a different flavor. I’ve written about this issue in the past and it has become an epidemic.

In simple terms, many homeowners have decided (after adding significantly to their project scope) that they will simply not pay their builder or contractor for extras over and above the RREM grant. This is happening between 10% -15% of the time and is effectively putting many small contractors out of business.

In addition to being unethical, whether it is a RREM project or not, taking money from RREM and not using it for its intended purpose is illegal and opens one up to civil as well as criminal penalties. If it’s a RREM project, it can’t be closed out without a paid lien waiver from your builder. If you don’t finish your RREM project within a certain time, RREM can demand the entire grant back. All of this is unnecessary and not a path on which one should proceed.

In any case, the market (and government) is managing to right itself and cure itself of pretensions, illusions, charlatans and subterfuge. It’s a shame it took 4 years to shake the rubbish out, but it is what it is. It’s not how long it takes to get there, but the fact that one arrives at all that is important.


Here we are halfway through my list of subjects and I’ve written 6 pages and 1100 words….perhaps there is some truth to the notion that I can be a bit verbose…


So I shall end here, reluctantly, through consideration for my reader’s sensibilities and time available for idle reading, as well as the recognition that blogs should be short (failure!), concise (semi-failure) and informative (success!! Heehee).


Today I’ll leave you with the reminder that we are here to help you when no one else will, with the messiest, most unpleasant real estate, construction and renovation situations. We’re doing what no one else is doing, and helping many people finish their projects and get back in their homes. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to proceed, call us and we’ll do our best to help you.


Have you been ripped off by Shore House Lifters or any other dishonest contractor?

We are continuing our offer of a $2000 discount to any homeowner who has been left in the lurch by a crooked builder. It’s not a ton of money, but every little bit helps if you’ve been taken advantage of.


Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project:

RREM Program Manager: RREM Program Managers DO NOT supervise the construction of your project. You do, as you should, since it is you that is responsible for how the money is spent. RREM Program Managers manage the paper flow for your project, authorize payment disbursements and (try to) lead you through the confusing RREM maze. That’s it. Nothing further.

They do not consult with you on construction process, give legal advice or comment on who you should choose as your builder, or advise if they are competent and stable.

You are the only person responsible to oversee the professionals you hire. A sobering truth, but one worth remembering.

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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above the sea level at the ocean beach. 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.

These two items 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 a number of 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 supervise elevations & house moves, demolish and build new homes, and develop and build entire new neighborhoods. In the past 23 years, we’ve completed over 1500 new homes, 150 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.

I’m hoping I do at least one additional blog before Christmas, but if not, I wish you good luck, good building and a wonderful holiday!





Dream Homes Ltd.

Virtual Learning Company Inc.

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







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