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Dream Homes Building & Real Estate Blog – 8-18-18 – Welcome Back Vince! – Can you Lose your RREM grant? – Building Seminar 9-12-18 – Zoning Issues – Comcast Commercials – Vote for us in the APP survey

Dream Homes and Development Corp.
Dream Building LLC.
Nearly Famous Building, Home Improvement and Real Estate Blog

Hello all –

I hope this blog finds you well. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written.

People seem to like my ramblings and I’ve heard no end of mild complaints from a dedicated group about my absence from the blogsphere. And to all of you – thank you for that. Every time I think to myself that not that many people really read my blog, and it’s not worth the effort, someone would say to me, “Well I think it’s really helpful, so please keep writing…”. Chastised I am, so I continue to write…

This blog was actually started on March 11, 2018 and…well….here we are…”Well, we’re 10 days from the start of Spring 2018, which is always a psychological high point for me. Winter is no fun in New Jersey when you’re a builder. This also means we’ve added almost 90 minutes of daylight since December 21, 2017. Remember to set your clocks ahead and hour, if you haven’t already….”

It goes on from there but was never finished. For the life of me I can’t figure out why, other than the same pablum that anyone would offer – busy, clients, tired, blah, blah…

We’re here in the dog days of summer now, and this weather is why we all put up with the negatives of New Jersey. It’s wonderful here between mid-April and mid-October, but June through September can be even better.

I did decide since we’ve last spoken that I wouldn’t restrict myself to advice on building new homes or elevating and rebuilding existing homes. Seems like a bit of a waste to me. I’ve been active in real estate investment and construction for over 30 years and many of the more valuable insights I can offer don’t have to do with how to most efficiently enclose your basement, or the cost/benefit analysis of a new kitchen or a deck expansion. On 100+ occasions over the last 6 years, the real estate investment advice I’ve casually offered to homeowners is worth more than their improvement project.

Anyway, dedicated readers, today we have a few things for you. We have 3 different commercials on 12 or 13 channels on Comcast and that’s kind of neat. We’re holding our next Building Seminar on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 (detail below) which you should attend if you have any questions about construction or real estate. We’re in the running for Asbury Park Press Best of the Best and would love if you would vote for us. We’ll talk about RREM and real/imaginary deadlines, for those who are still dealing with RREM. We talk about scheduling late summer and fall 2018 projects now and how to expedite permits. We’ve welcomed over 2 dozen new clients since I’ve last written, from Little Egg up to Union Beach. Lots of interesting stuff.

Seminars and Events
Our next Building & Real Estate Seminar will be held Wednesday September 12th, 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 Dan Wheaton, architect. 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 new home, elevation or renovation, and you haven’t already attended one of our seminars, come for crucial, helpful information. We’ll help you focus on starting your project – whether it is a new home or an elevation/renovation. We’ll help you with design work and engineering.
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.

RREM & ICC Deadlines – October 29, 2018 or not? Be Careful – Don’t Risk Losing Your Grant!
To all our friends out in RREM world who haven’t chosen a builder and signed a contract, you should do so. There’s not (supposedly) a hard deadline, but it’s quite a risk you’re taking.
I’m not sure that you now have a hard deadline to start your project – it was there and then it wasn’t. (As we’ve always said, one of the smartest things you can do if you haven’t started your RREM project yet or chosen a builder, is to make sure you choose someone who is very familiar with RREM.)
Recently, there was a wholesale changeover in RREM project managers across the board and much pressure to close old files, or those awarded but not started. We do know that there was a hard 10/29/18 deadline, but then there wasn’t.
We absolutely know that homeowners are having RREM grants revoked due to inaction. If you’ve been awarded a grant and haven’t done anything for a long time (1-2 years), eventually you’re going to lose your grant. You must make some type of progress – hire a contractor, or if not, at least engage an architect or engineer. This is a really important step to demonstrate that you are proceeding. If you’re still on the fence and in this category, call us at 609 693 8881 and we’ll help you get focused and moving forward.

Asbury Park Press – Best of the Best Survey — Would you vote for us in the Asbury Park Press poll? We’re in the running for Asbury Park Press Best of the Best in 3 categories and would appreciate if you would vote for us. If we’ve helped you or anyone you know with either a project or advice, you can vote for us for Builder, Home Improvement Contractor or Modular Builder. You can vote each day (actually hourly if you really love us!) through August 28th. Here is the link and thanks for your support! -Best-of-the-Best-APP-Ocean/gallery?group=290464      Note: Copy and Paste this link into your browser if it is not live

Dream Homes welcomes all of our (many) new clients in the last few months: We’d like to extend a warm welcome and thanks to the many new clients who have retained us since March. We’re now building as far north as Union Beach and North Middletown and as far south as Little Egg. Thank you everyone for trusting Dream Homes with your projects. You can sleep peacefully at night knowing you’ve retained the best builder in the business.

Tempus fugit! (that means Time is Fleeting, in Latin): I’ve been banging this drum for years but we all need to hear calls to action (me especially). Time will run out soon for projects you want to have completed by Spring / Summer 2019 unless you have signed a contract and are actively working on engineering and plans. Ideally, you have your plans submitted, or are submitting very soon. If you’re still on the fence, call us at 609 693 8881 and we’ll help you get focused and moving forward.

RREM Clawbacks – Repeat from 2/24/18 Blog
This is an important partial repeat for RREM clients. The entire article is in the 2/24/18 blog.
Regarding your RREM scope of work (otherwise known as the ECR or Estimated Cost of Repairs), be aware that your contractor does not have to do all the work – painting, spackle and interior trim are items we regularly encourage homeowners to do themselves if funds are tight. You can do items yourself if you are handy and would like to invest some sweat equity. However, someone must do all the items, or money will be removed.
Having money removed from your grant can be significant, or not. Usually, we’ve found that the cost to have the work done is less than what RREM is paying you, in which case it behooves you to finish all items.
If you’re stuck in this situation or just starting a RREM project, give us a call at 609 693 8881. We’ll help get you back on track or avoid any problems when you start.
See the 2/24/18 blog for more details….

Our Old Frenemy – Cost / Benefit: I hate to be repetitive, and I know it’s boring to some people…and I’ve written about this 2000 times, but so many people ignore the cost benefit equation. It’s vitally important to recognize and quantify the potential value you are gaining from improvements, versus the cost you are incurring. (I hate to keep including this in the blog, but it applies to everyone and is incredibly helpful. So I keep repeating it).
My favorites are always decks, kitchens, baths and cosmetic improvements. I am not a fan of extensive remodeling for the sake of remodeling (unless it is a hobby for you and you have plenty of money), unless it includes one of the above items. Refinishing basements and attics is useful if you’re creating additional living or recreational space, but these items need to be budgeted so the cost doesn’t exceed the value you create.
An added caution: Sometimes the improvement can make sense if done in a moderate way, but not make any sense if done in an extravagant manner. An example is installing a $30,000 kitchen, which adds $30,000 in value (plus or minus) versus an $80,000 kitchen, which adds….$30,000 in value, plus or minus. Remember – no one but you cares about your specific, costly upgrades so if you’re going down that path, make sure you absolutely love what you’re doing and the pleasure and improvement to your quality of life are worth the cost.

Zoning issues – Building anywhere in NJ? Beware!! Partial repeat: In general, zoning officers can be difficult to deal with, and the experience is complicated by interpretation of codes and subtle nuances between townships. The majority of zoning officers we’ve dealt with in NJ don’t have a clue what they’re doing since Storm Sandy changed the playing field. Sad but true.
“Pre-existing, non-conforming 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 a good discussion and the remainder of this article on “pre-existing, non-conforming” conditions, see the 2/3/18 blog.
Please Note: This subject is complex, often much more than it appears. For assistance and consultation, call us at 609 693 8881 or 732 300 5619.

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 are increasing again in 2018 and will continue into 2019. If you’re planning a project, try and secure fixed pricing now, or as soon as you can.

Design & Hiring Your Own Architect/Engineer: 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 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 significant delays in each project.
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.

Dream Homes Products & Services – Did You Know We Offer all these services?
New Custom Stick built and Modular Homes – Elevations and House Moves – Interior and Exterior Renovations & Additions – Kitchens & Baths – Roofing, Siding and Windows – Decks and railings – Masonry and Pavers – Engineering, Variance applications and Land Use – Permitting, Surveying and Project Management – Land Development and Approvals. Call us for more detail on any of the above topics.

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…

Click to access FEMA_2017_Hurricane_HTP_FINAL.pdf

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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.

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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.

Turn Key Project? 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? Scheduling for 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, March 14th, 2018). 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

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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

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

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References & Testimonials – Click on the link below

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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 all: Though I write this blog and host the Building seminars to help guide homeowners through the maze that is any reconstruction project, Dream Homes actuallu 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 25 years, we’ve completed over 1650 new homes, 250 elevation & renovation 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 friends. 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