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 enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had lately.
Since the last blog, we’ve added 20 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. It has been very warm recently though.
Remember – 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. Better to start something and fix it while you’re moving, than to start nothing and do it perfectly.
Today, we talk about RREM Clawbacks and RREM fraud. We again mention zoning issues, since is a confusing and easily misunderstood topic. We offer a link to a good Reader’s Digest article about 21 Tips to add Value to Your Home. 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.
RREM Clawback Nightmare – Be Careful and Beware! To all our friends out in RREM world who are trying to close their accounts, we feel your pain. One of the smartest things you can do if you haven’t started a RREM project yet or chosen a builder, is to make sure you choose someone who is very familiar with RREM. There has been a wholesale changeover in RREM project managers across the board and a lot of pressure to close files that have been lingering, or which have been awarded but not started. There is also a lot of scrutiny concerning scopes of work, so make sure you complete everything on your RREM scope, or expect to have money removed from your grant for the omitted items.
Note 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 RREM is paying you, so it behooves you to finish all items. Sometimes that’s not the case and it might not matter. I’ve seen RREM call to replace ceiling fans in a house with perfectly good fans that the homeowner was quite happy with. It made no sense and they chose not to do the work.
Remember – it is up to you to go through your ECR (estimated cost of repair) from RREM and make sure that all items are completed, whether by you or your builder. If you don’t share your ECR with your contractor or ask specifically for an estimate which encompasses everything that RREM wants, you may be forced to add items to your scope of work at the last minute, or forfeit the money for an item.
Finally, if you are a RREM homeowner, you’re generally better off going to a builder first with your ECR and RREM grant, so you have a professional analysis of what RREM expects from you. We have one client who demolished her old 3 bedroom house, had a beautiful new 2 bedroom house designed and came to us to build it. Other than knowing she was a RREM client, we were not aware of the history, or able to view the entire picture. Now the house is built and RREM wants to remove $25,000 from her grant for not building the 3rd bedroom. Luckily, we’re able to split a room and create a 3rd bedroom, but this is the type of item you are much better off knowing ahead of time. An experienced RREM builder will pick up on items like this when they first evaluate your case.
If you’re stuck in a situation or just starting a RREM project, give us a call at 609 693 8881 to discuss this further. We’ll help get you back on track or avoid any problems when you start.
31 Tips to Add Value to Your Home: This is a decent article from Reader’s Digest, which discusses 31 ways to add value to your home. Some are easy and cost effective, some aren’t. Many ignore the cost benefit equation I’ve written about 2000 times, where it’s important to recognize and quantify the potential value you are gaining, versus the cost you are incurring.
Here is the link: https://www.rd.com/home/best-home-improvements/
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 like every other improvement, 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, plus or minus. Remember – no one but you cares about specific, costly upgrades so if you’re going down that path, make sure you absolutely love what you’re doing and the pleasure is 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. Today we’ll discuss “pre-existing, non-conforming” conditions.
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.
To view the remainder of this article, visit our 2/3/18 blog.
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.
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.
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.
The easiest way to avoid this pitfall is to consult directly with your surveyor or go on www.region2coastal.com 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.
To view the remainder of this article, visit our 2/3/18 blog.
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 www.dreamhomesltd.com. 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 www.dreamhomesltd.com. 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 matt@GreenChipIR.com. You can view our operational results and financials at any time on our website at www.dreamhomesltd.com or at www.sec.gov.
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 email@example.com 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.
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