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Dream Homes Building Blog – 2-4-18 – Crucial Zoning Issues – Building Seminar at Tuscan 3-14-18 – Costs Increase in 2018 – New Foxy Fox Model – Tempus Fugit!!

Dream Homes and Development Corp.

Dream Building LLC.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding, Renovation, and Elevation Blog


Hello all –

I hope this blog finds you well and getting ready for the Super Bowl. Or if you’re in the minority like me, you’re just working with little idea what’s happening in the world of sports.

On a really bright note, Tom Brady is the oldest person to ever quarterback a Super Bowl at age 40, which is really encouraging to anyone over the age of, well, 40 years old.

Since the last blog, we’ve added 7 more minutes of daylight to the day. Every day we add one more minute of daylight until the summer solstice on June 21, 2018. In the winter, amidst the cold, snow, sleet, frozen ground, wind chill, dying vehicles and general unpleasantness, we take tiny bits of satisfaction where we can.

Quote of the day: From George Bernard Shaw: “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” (Based on George’s definition, I’m one of the most honorable people alive…😊)  This excellent quote does play into my advice to do something with your project to move it forward, as opposed to doing nothing while you search for perfection in design, planning, scheduling and pricing.

In my experience, perfection is the enemy of progress. Often “good enough” is truly good enough to start. Once you’re in motion, it’s easy to adapt to conditions and correct your path.

Today, among other things, we review the Home Show last weekend at Brookdale College. We discuss zoning issues extensively, since the field is esoteric and very easily misunderstood even by experienced professionals. We discuss rising labor and material costs again. Finally, we mention our next Rebuilding Seminar, which is the first for 2018 and is scheduled for March 14th, 2018.

Seminars and Events

Our next Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday March 14th, 2018 at 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. We’ll be joined by Kathleen Dotoli, Esquire, Jason Devooght (Devooght House Lifters) and either Scott Lepley or Dan Wheaton, architects. As always, we’ll also be streaming it on Facebook Live and be online if you want to email questions or comments while the seminar is under way.  

If you’re planning a project, whether a new home, elevation or renovation, and you haven’t already attended one of our seminars, come for tons of helpful information from our excellent speakers. We focus on homeowners early in the rebuilding process, who haven’t completed design work, or chosen a builder or architect.

We talk about architectural and engineering planning, construction technique, RREM guidance, choosing the right builder and consumer safety cautions, financing your project, and tips about home elevation in general. We also talk about RREM issues, (the lunacy of) managing your own project, and ways to avoid delays and going over budget. So, mark the date and call 609 693 8881 or 732 300 5619 to reserve your space if you want to attend. Pizza and wine will be served, and space is limited.

Zoning issues – Building anywhere in NJ? Beware!! In general, building departments in NJ are difficult to deal with, with the Top 5 being the worst by far (Toms River, Brick, Little Egg, Manahawkin and Berkeley). Zoning officers though, can also be particularly difficult to deal with, and the experience is complicated by interpretation and subtle nuance. Today we’ll discuss a particular area of concern, which affects many, many people up and down the shore. It is called a “pre-existing, non-conforming” condition.

This condition is exactly like it sounds – a condition that was approved years (or decades ago) which doesn’t meet current zoning requirements. A general rule of thumb is that if you don’t remove the item and you are doing an elevation to meet new flood codes, you are ok.

If you remove the item, and it didn’t meet current zoning setbacks or restrictions, you won’t be able to rebuild it as it was without applying for a variance from the township. For purposes of this article, we won’t address variance applications which are an entire book unto themselves. Let’s assume you do not wish to apply for a variance (which could take 3-8 months, cost $3,000 – $10,000 and not guarantee any results other than aggravation).

Decks and sheds are a large part of this issue, so we’ll focus on them today. If a deck exists currently and is proposed to be elevated with the house, it may not be in compliance once it is elevated. It is not only side, rear and front setbacks, but height considerations which must be considered. To add more complexity to the issue, total lot coverage, distance from the bulkhead or beach (where applicable) and total value of the post construction improvements relative to assessed value are all additional items of concern.

Sheds which have been in place for years and are within 3’ or 5’ of the property line, will be called out on zoning permits as items to be moved prior to a certificate of occupancy being issued. That’s a relatively painless affair – assuming they have a floor, most sheds can be moved by rolling them on a series of 4” pvc sewer pipe.

Decks, on the other hand, can be a pain in the ass. If you have a deck that is at finished floor level, your lifestyle has gotten accustomed to that and you don’t want to step out on a platform and descend 8 (or 10, or 13) steps to a lower deck just to barbecue. One solution is to decrease the size of the deck to conform to current zoning, which is a common fix. Another is to deal with a smaller upper platform, with stairs down to the existing deck. Finally, you can choose to build a new house and situate the house correctly on the lot, to allow the size and height deck that you want.

Keep in mind that “All my neighbors have this” is not any kind of defense or justification for a township approving a non-conforming use. Once you open a building permit, you are fair game to your town. You then must bring everything into conformance, regardless of what anyone (or everyone) else is doing.

Often with elevation projects, it is best to elevate decks with the house to avoid a good portion of this issue. The biggest concern with that course of action is that the deck might be 40 years old, not maintained or built to current codes and by all rights should be demolished. By doing the right thing (demolishing the existing deck and building a new one), you create a host of other issues that you wouldn’t have to normally deal with.

Other concerns include adding extra space in coastal areas over what existed previously. If you add more than 300 square feet, you will most probably trigger the need for a new CAFRA (DEP) permit. We want to avoid that if possible. If you are building any closer to an existing waterway than what was previously there (dock, bulkhead, river, etc), this will also trigger a CAFRA permit. For the record, CAFRA permits on existing lots can run $3,000 – $5,000 between engineering, surveying, applications fees and permits.

So be careful with pre-existing, non-conforming conditions – either stick to the existing condition and leave what is in place where it is, or make sure you submit zoning & building permit applications which accurately reflect that what you want to do will be allowed. The aim is to ensure that what you have in mind won’t have to be removed.

Note also that this subject is complex, often more than it appears. For assistance and consultation, call us at 609 693 8881 or 732 300 5619.

New Foxy Fox model being built in Lacey – from $259,900: If you’re in the market for a new home, we’ll be building our Foxy Fox model on Clairmore Avenue in Lacey this spring. This model is a great starter home, because it offers the possibility of adding 2 bedrooms and an additional bath upstairs (we include the roughs for a future bath), as well as finishing the lower level. It’s a 3-4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with a raised enclosed basement, built on pilings. Before we start in March, you can pick all your colors – roof, siding, flooring and cabinets. Give us a call at 609 693 8881 for further information.

Building costs increased, for the third year in a row…and skilled labor has become more difficult to find and keep. Keep these two items in mind when you are finalizing your project costs and estimates. If you have an estimate that is a year old, expect that it may increase slightly (3%-4%). Another caution: Material costs will increase again through 2018 and into 2019. If you’re planning a project, try and secure fixed pricing now, or at least as soon as you can.

Tempus fugit! (that means Time is Fleeting, in Latin): Time has just about run out for projects you want to have completed by Summer 2018, unless you have your plans submitted, or are submitting in the next few days. If you’re still on the fence, call us at 609 693 8881 and we’ll help you get focused and moving forward.

However, it is the perfect time to be working on plans for a late summer/fall 2018 start for your project. At this point you should ideally be in the plan design stage and working through an agreement with your builder, so you can submit plans in July and be ready to start in September. Again, give us a call to discuss scheduling.

A Warm Welcome to 3 new clients – Welcome to Ken in Toms River (elevation), Brandy & Peter in Island Heights (new home) and Mr. Gao (elevation & renovation in Manahawkin. We’re honored that you chose us as your builder and know you’ll be happy with the results. Welcome to the Dream Homes family!

Design & Hiring Your Own Architect: The design & architectural fees are usually itemized separately and are (for us) a pass-through cost. In other words, we oversee the entire design process and it costs our clients the same amount (usually much less) of money than if the homeowner deals with the architect directly. This also results in significant savings in both construction design and redesign fees. Remember – the person who is going to build the project should be involved in the design from inception, so practical best practices can be designed in from the start. Author’s note from 2017: We successfully completed 42 projects in 2017, and 8 of them were with plans that the homeowner produced prior to retaining us. In all 8 projects, the plans and the scope of work had to be modified, the architecture and engineering cost was higher than we charge for the same work, and there were delays in each project in excess of normal.

Moral of the story and a word to the wise – for a new home, elevation or significant renovation, unless you really know what you’re doing and are going to oversee and build the project yourself, let your builder/general contractor provide you with a design/build package. It will save you time, money and grief.

Coastal A Zone – Reminders & Cautions – Final repeat: This is an item we’ve discussed before, but it is still commonly missed and can cause both delay and extra expense during your design phase.

It is not enough to determine the general flood zone your home is in – if you are in an A zone, you also must make sure you are not in a Coastal A zone, which is a further subcategory. The single biggest reason this is an important consideration is that in the Coastal A zone, deep foundation systems are required, and you cannot add to existing block foundations (unless the foundation has pilings below grade and a concrete grade beam footing). This was not always the case in A zones and is due to a change in the code which was finalized in March of 2016.

A deep foundation system can be either timber or helical pilings, depending upon whether your home can be moved out of the way or not. Timber piles are much less expensive and the preferred method if your yard is large enough for a move, or there is an empty lot nearby that you can “borrow”. Compounding the cost and design considerations is the fact that even if after you install a deep foundation system, you cannot build regular concrete block or frame walls. They must be specifically designed as “breakaway walls”, and concrete breakaway walls are complex and expensive, which leaves you essentially forced to build frame walls with a cement board enclosure.

This seemingly minor consideration (whether you are in a Coastal A) can affect you greatly if your architect or engineer designs to normal A zone constraints, only to later to discover that your home is in a Coastal A zone. This epiphany will usually happen in the building review stage, after you’ve already designed an entire foundation system based on building with concrete block, either on top of existing block or with a normal concrete footing set 30” below grade. Not only is the foundation redesign going to cost you several thousand dollars, but this error will cost you 1-2 months in delays. On top of all that happy news, in most cases the actual construction cost will increase significantly.

The easiest way to avoid this pitfall is to consult directly with your surveyor or go on to check yourself. Plug in your address and check to see if there is a solid line running anywhere near your lot, with small triangles interspersed along the line. The points of the triangles face toward the Coastal A zone and if your home is in that area, you are subject to the design criteria above. Note also that Coastal A zones are commonly on or very near the open bayfront or riverfront. If you are 3-4 houses distance from the water, you are probably in a regular A zone.

Dream Homes – Awarded the Best Home Improvement Contractor and Best Modular Home Builder in Ocean County for 2017 by the Asbury Park Press. That’s something we’re very proud of, but we’re even more proud that we’ve recently passed the milestone of 200 completed elevation/renovation projects since Storm Sandy. Dream looks forward to continuing to help New Jersey rebuild in the months and years ahead. Thanks to all the clients and friends who voted for us in that survey!

Dream Homes – Kitchen & Bath Design Studio & Custom Modular Division –

Though we’re known more for new homes and elevation projects than kitchens and baths, we also do quite a bit of remodeling. An excellent place for you to start Is at our Custom Modular, Kitchen & Bath design studio at 2109 Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant, with complete kitchen layouts, flooring selections and our own in house modular home design studio. As necessary parts of the 1900 home projects we’ve completed since 1993, we are well equipped to accommodate your remodeling needs, from the simple to the most complex. Call 609 693 8881 to schedule an appointment or just stop by. You’re invited to visit us and see what we have – hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 – 2, closed on Tuesday, with other hours by appointment.

Hurricane Preparation: So good I keep repeating it! I’ve had this in the last 5 blogs, so I’ll just include the link. I know most people don’t pay attention to being prepared, but hope springs eternal so I keep posting it…

Dream Homes FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) Partial Repeat

Here are a few items from our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. The October 8th blog has all of them or you can get them from our website at It’s a useful, concise guide to address common questions and lets you know what you can expect when you choose Dream Homes as your builder.

Solar Power at Home –More Info and link:  For the full story check the 10/29/17 blog, and here is the link.

Dream Homes & Development Corporation – who we are: As you may know, Dream Homes & Development Corp. (OTCOB: Ticker DREM) is a publicly traded, fully reporting (audited) company, is the region’s most trusted new home builder and home improvement contractor and was recently awarded the Best Home Improvement Contractor and Best Modular Home Builder in Ocean County for 2017 by the Asbury Park Press. Dream is growing, improving our operations and service and adding new members to our team to better serve you. You can view financials on our web site at Click on the SEC tab at the bottom of the page for information.

Dream Homes has a main office in Forked River and a Modular Design Center in Point Pleasant, and we’re the only public company doing home elevation work in New Jersey. You can view all the information about us online and if you like us and believe in what we’re doing, we would love to have you as shareholders. For more information and an information package, contact Matt Chipman, our investor relations person. Matt can be reached at (818) 923-5302, (310) 709-5646 or You can view our operational results and financials at any time on our website at or at

Mission Statement and Comment: At Dream Homes, we’re the region’s most trusted builder and we’ll help you when no one else will. We regularly handle messy and unpleasant real estate, construction and renovation situations. We do the elevation, renovation and new home projects that few other people can do, and help people finish 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.

At Dream Homes, we believe that taking on difficult unpopular projects is part of the social contract we have with the community and the Jersey Shore. We’ve never abandoned a client or failed to finish a project – we feel very strongly that it is our obligation to help Sandsters and others in need.

Insulation & Wall Thickness – How Much Is Needed and What’s Involved? See the blog of 11/18/17 for useful information on Insulation technique, wall thicknesses & energy efficiency

Siding, Trim and other Exterior Finishes: See the blog of 8/26/17 for useful information on choices for siding, trim and other finishes.

Decks, more decks and railing…Decks are one of the more popular improvements and one of the easiest ways to add value to your home. Decks fall into 3 main categories – pressure treated, composite and fiberglass. Railings can be pressure treated, vinyl rail or glass.

New Beach Bungalow on your lot from $89,800!!  This model is perfect for many small lots in the shore area including Ocean Beach, Lavallette, Ortley and South Seaside Park.

Seaview and Bayview Models: From $149,000 including demolition. These homes are 2-3 bedrooms and 2 baths and suitable for 40-60 foot wide lots. Call 609 693 8881 for details.

Is your home improvement contractor or new home builders willing to provide a turn-key project? It’s messy, requires diverse skill sets and deep administrative support and places all responsibility for everything directly on the builder’s shoulders. Dream Homes regularly perform turn-key renovation and design build projects and will remain as one of the best, solid companies in the years to come. This matters to you because if a company isn’t committed to being in the line of work for which you are contracting, they will not support it correctly during and after the project. That means less resources (personnel and otherwise) devoted to your project. Currently at Dream Homes, we’ve been actively hiring carpenters, helpers, marketing and support staff for 2 years. We’re committed to the elevation /renovation business and improve every single day – our commitment to provide additional, better resources to our clients is ongoing.

Moral of the story: Try and avoid working with any company not committed to the type of project you are undertaking. Ask to see current projects in process or being started.

Need to Phone a Friend? Need a Rescue? 2017 Scheduling & Priority projects – If you’re stuck in a stalled project for whatever reason (contractor in jail or indicted, bankrupt, lazy, inept, no money, etc.) we’ll help you with a prompt evaluation of your situation. We do consultation and estimates immediately for projects that are stuck. It doesn’t change what happened to you in the past, but at least you’ll know how to get back on track, without chasing someone for a month to get an initial meeting and written estimate. As a note, often we’re the only company willing to finish projects that have been abandoned.

Kathleen M. Dotoli, Esquire – Consumer Protection:  Kathleen is a workers’ compensation and disability attorney in Toms River and speaks regularly at our Rebuilding Seminar. Kathy gives an excellent presentation about consumer protection that will save you money and grief. (Next one is Wednesday, December 6th, 2017). Email Kathy at or call her office at 732 228 7534 for a copy of her seminar presentation.

Video & Past Seminars

Photos & Videos – Click on the link below

Future Homes & Townhomes for Sale:  We’re actively working on the development approvals for several properties in Bayville and Forked River.

Dream Homes at Tallwoods: We’ll be offering 13 beautiful new 3 and 4-bedroom single-family homes for sale in the mid $200,000 range in late 2017 / early 2018.

Dream Homes at the Pines: 58 new 2-3 bedroom townhomes, with garages, in a private wooded setting. Anticipated opening in spring / summer 2018.

Dream on the Forked River: 42 new 2-3 bedroom townhomes with garages and private boat slips. Anticipated opening in winter 2018/spring 2019.

If you’re looking for new homes this year or early next year, give us a call and we’ll get you information.

Yeah, We Do That for You…  This was an excellent article from the 1/8/17 blog, which received positive response from many people. If you missed it, go back and read it now at

Definitions & Important Considerations That Can Delay Your Project: Click on the link below

References & Testimonials – Click on the link below

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 you are a Dream Homes 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 and host the Rebuilding seminars to help guide homeowners through the maze that is any reconstruction project, Dream Homes does all of the work that I write about.  Dream Homes & Development Corp. and Dream Building LLC are new home builders and general contractors who are actively renovating and reconstructing projects up and down the shore. We supervise and manage elevation projects & 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, 190 elevation projects and 500,000 square feet of commercial buildings. 28 of our elevation projects have been rescue projects, where we came in to save a homeowner when someone else left. Dream builds new homes, demolishes existing damaged homes, elevates and move homes, complete additions and renovations and rescues homeowners when their other contractors abandon them. 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 my words helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.


Vince Simonelli

Dream Homes & Development Corp. (OTCQB: DREM)

Dream Building LLC

New Home Builder #049531

Home Improvement Contractor #13VH09325600

Office: 314 S. Main Street

Mailing: 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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