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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 9-11-16 – In Memory of 9/11 – Rebuilding Seminar Wednesday 9/14 – RREM Contractor & Homeowner Fraud Alert -RREM Program Manager – Manage Your Project Correctly

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

9-11-16

Remembering 9/11 – Why Exactly Are We Lifting Our House?? Dodging Another Storm Bullet – September Rebuilding Seminar – Courtesy, Last Look & Working with your Favorite Contractor- What actually is a RREM Program Manager? RREM Fraud Update – Contractors & Homeowners

Hello Sandsters –

I hope your Labor Day weekend went well. We dodged a bullet with the whole tropical storm/hurricane/surge thing, which is good. As far as I’m concerned, I did 4 estimates and spoke to a number of clients, so I held true to the whole concept of laboring over the Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure that’s what Labor Day is supposed to be, but that’s how it ended up for me.

See how close we came to another wicked storm event…This plays right into, “Why are we bothering to raise our homes?” Click on this link and see more detail below.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/with_hermine_gone_another_bullet_dodged_on_duneles.html#incart_river_index

Today, we have a few items for you. We take a moment to reflect on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and how it changed our world. One of the most important items today is a repeat – Why Exactly are we Lifting our Houses? We repeat warnings about committing RREM fraud – on both sides – homeowner and contractor. We give you some tips on getting a good, accurate estimate. We (again) define the term Program Manager, which is easily the most misunderstood concept under the sun. We talk change orders and caution you their inherent risks to your project in delays and cost overruns. Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is this Wednesday September 14th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

September & November (11/9) Dream Homes Events:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar –Wednesday September 14th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.   We’re holding this seminar for 3 ½ years and counting

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held this Wednesday September 14th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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 space is limited.

Once again,  professionals will be speaking.  Kathy Dotoli, who is a worker’s compensation lawyer in Toms River, will also give her excellent presentation on precautions to take to ensure a smooth relationship with your contractor. We’ll have one of our architects or engineers speaking, though we’re not sure exactly which one. This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project so bring your info (or send it to us ahead of time) and get some questions answered.

Remembering 9/11/01… let’s take a few minutes during our day to remember that terrible day, the lives that were lost and forever changed, and how we truly lost our innocence as a society and a county.

Let’s close our eyes and say a prayer in memoriam for the 3000 people that we lost in the horrific attack, and with respect and thanks for the 75,000 others who were and are still victims of the tragedy that was 9/11.

Here is a link to a Forbes article…

http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddessig/2016/09/10/15-years-later-september-11-is-not-just-a-memory/2/#41b718aa767e

That is why you should wake up every morning and thank God for good health and safety for you, your family and loved ones. One never knows what will happen each day and health is the only thing in life that is important. The rest of the nonsense that we regularly become upset about is meaningless in the face of actual tragedy.

Why Exactly Are We Lifting Our Houses??

I’ve written about this topic many times, but it bears repeating and updating. Certainly, we are not elevating our homes because we want to, need an aggressive home project or have nothing better to do with our time and money.

Summary of the main reasons we are elevating, or rebuilding at a higher level:

  1. To avoid flood risk.
  2. To save (a lot of) money on flood insurance.
  3. To protect the value of what is probably your single largest investment.
  4. To add value to your home by incorporating improvements that will add to the worth of your home. Improvements that add value include (among many others) full height lifts, garages under the house, enclosed space for storage, concrete floors, better views, new or larger decks, and better insulation to create ongoing energy savings.

Some former blog posts about why we’re lifting…

From the 4/23/13 Rebuilding Blog…

In addition to the regular RREM update, I thought I would remind everyone of 2 of the important reasons we are lifting and renovating our homes. The first reason is to mitigate or eliminate flood risk in the future, since it is not a question of if, but a question of when, there will be another flood. The second reason is to keep your flood insurance affordable. If you are at base flood elevation now, stay there and do not elevate, your $1200 insurance policy will be $11,000 in 5 years and will increase by $2000 a year from now until then. Not a happy thought but a good one to keep in mind while going through rebuilding hell. It makes all this aggravation worthwhile.

From the 3/16/13 Rebuilding Blog…

People who choose to do without flood insurance all have one thing in common: they have no mortgage or a small remaining mortgage that they can retire.

Fact: There is no law requiring you to have flood insurance. There is a federal law governing the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Commission), which requires any participating lender who lends money in the form of a mortgage, to require that the borrower obtain and maintain flood insurance. If you have a mortgage, you need to have flood insurance. This is an important distinction, and one worth considering.

These lucky folks without mortgages fall into 2 categories – investors buying for cash and people whose affected home was their second, or vacation home.

If you do not have, cannot borrow, or are not getting enough insurance money to raise and move your home and remodel, or demolish and rebuild your home, your third alternative is to stay where you are and remodel. This will cost you significantly less money initially, but will affect your home value and sale viability when you sell your home.

You will also be accepting the inherent risk of living through another significant storm event – your home may flood again. That is a calculated risk. For a working hypothesis, I am assuming another event within 10-20 years with an average of 2’ of water over finished floor, as opposed to the 4’ we experienced with Sandy.

Call to Action – RREM Homeowner & General Contractor Fraud – Can DCA/RREM Fix This?

To say that our justice system is broken as it relates to contracting is an incredible understatement. We have much greater oversight in a vast number of other professions, often where much less money is at stake.

Ironically, the process of awarding $150,000 grants with no oversight attached to homeowners is also quite flawed.

(Turns out that the moral of the story is that a certain percentage of people in general are flawed and will steal. One can’t legislate that fact out of existence.)

Summary: 1. Contractors: If you accept people’s money, you should be held to a higher standard, and in any other business other than construction, you are. 2. Homeowners: If you accept federal and state RREM money, you should treat it the same way you would want your contractor to responsibly behave and not spend the money you need to finish your job on furniture, a pool or a vacation.

Sandsters, if you take your RREM grant and go on vacation, install a new kitchen, build a new Trex deck, install cultured stone on the front of your house, or do a full height raise with garage and concrete, and don’t pay your contractor, you won’t be able to close out your RREM grant, you will definitely have your entire project file audited, and will be subject to civil and criminal penalties for fraud. We see RREM and DCA eventually catching up with fraudulent contractors and they wind up under indictment. Homeowners are also subject to severe repercussions if they do not pay their contractors and close out their RREM file. If you are living in your home with a CO and have not paid your RREM contractor, you are taking a tremendous chance of having your grant revoked, your file audited and being fined. If you have a valid disagreement with your contractor, escrow the balance of payment due with your attorney and file suit. Otherwise finish your RREM project and get the government out of your life. RREM is finally catching on to homeowners that are holding up $35,000 payments for discrepancies about sheetrock cracks. A word to the wise – don’t come under RREM and DCA scrutiny for fraud.

If contractors behave improperly, they are (eventually) arrested, indicted, fined and go to live in 6’ x 10’ rooms.

If homeowners defraud the RREM program, they are at risk of having to return their RREM grant and are subject to fines and penalties.

Alert – Action Needed from the DCA: We need different levels of home improvement contractor registrations, dictated by dollar amount. The person building your $4000 deck should not be permitted to accept a deposit for a $150,000 elevation project. They most likely are not capable (in numerous ways) to handle the responsibility.

There should be a simple registry where all building projects over $25,000 are posted, with the contractor, license number, start, projected completion date and ongoing status of the project are listed on a constant basis. If a builder abandons a project, becomes insolvent or has numerous complaints lodged against them, it should be available for public review. This creates an objective reference point for evaluation and anyone can simply consult the site and see how many times the company in question has sung the same song.

As a new home builder, we have to offer a 10 year warranty on our new home construction, and if there is an issue and it is not resolved, it is a matter of public record, and our license is not renewed. There is no such device for home improvement contractors, nor is there a distinction in the financial amount or sophistication of various projects. This procedure hurts the consumer.

For further detail and fiery rhetoric, see the last blog.

RREM Program Manager – What Exactly does “Program Manager” mean and What Do They Do?

Note: Repeat but an Important One

For the record, I would like to clarify the term “Program Manager” for all the RREM Sandsters who are confused about exactly what it means.

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 lead you through the confusing RREM maze. That’s it. Nothing further.

The do not consult with you on construction process, give legal advice or comment on who you should choose as your builder, or even if they are good (or even solvent).

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

Delays – 3 Reasons that cause the Biggest Delays & Biggest Issues:

Excessive change orders, lack of, or slow payment, and inability to make decisions during the project are the most common causes for project delay.

If you don’t have money on hand to fund your project while waiting for RREM reimbursement, it’s really important that you keep on your RREM Program Manager about the progress of your payment requests. If you don’t say anything, disbursements take much longer and this can translate to delays in paying your builder, which could slow your project.

If you can’t decide on the most basic selections or give conflicting direction, you will significantly delay your project.

See the June 5th blog for more detail.

Hiring Your Own Architect or Engineer: Pros (none) and Cons (many) I’ve written about this in the past, and have shared various thoughts. This is an update which reflects my most recent experiences.

The upshot, though a general statement, is that dealing with your own design professional does not save you any money and generally costs you time and stress.

1st, the reality is that the architectural/engineering cost to you is the same (usually less), whether you deal with the professional yourself or retain your builder to handle this aspect of the project.

2nd, you will save yourself a tremendous amount of time, since you will avoid the constant interaction between your professional and your builder. Your builder will handle the professional discussions and break it down for you in simple language you can understand.

3rd, you will avoid excess costs which are incurred when you design your plan with your architect without input from the person who will be building your project. Remember – architects and engineers draw pretty pictures, which sometimes are not the most cost effective methods to achieve your objectives. Sometimes (too often) the plans cannot be actually constructed as they are designed.

Last but not least, if there is an error and you’ve designed your own plan, you’re responsible for your architect’s errors. When you give a plan (that you’ve designed) to a builder to estimate, any errors in the plan are ultimately your responsibility and will cost you money.

Points to ponder, Sandsters. Sometimes we try to save money – and end up stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

Repeat – Partial – Beware of fancy trucks and equipment – You’re paying for it – PRICE HOME GROUP was only one notable example and is symptomatic of many other contractors;

Debt is a killer, Sandsters. Though it is relatively impossible to determine, the amount of debt a company carries on depreciable assets (vehicles, equipment, furniture and fixtures) as well as their fixed overhead, dictates behavior. You can request a balance sheet and income statement but you might not get one. If it’s not audited, it means little anyway.

We have no debt. We own everything outright. We don’t buy new vehicles – ever. We very rarely buy new equipment. We have the same office we’ve had for 14 years. We have low overhead. Everyone rows or we throw them out of the boat. We are not flashy. I may be one of the most boring people on the planet – and my clients like that. We’re quietly competent. We don’t need to impress anyone with anything but our performance.

Ultimately, you want to work with someone who is not taking your deposit to make truck payments, pay high salaries, support a fancy office and dazzle you with nonsense.

What you SHOULD be asking before your hire a builder or general contractor:

The real questions are, “How many projects have you completed?” (We’ve finished 155 in the last 3 years, and over 1500 new homes in 200 + developments in the last 2 decades)

“How many projects are unfinished?” (We have 0 unfinished projects)

“How many clients are suing you for misappropriation of funds, fraud or consumer fraud?” (We have 0).

What is the Difference between Non-Performance & Fraud versus a Difference of Opinion??

Important Repeat:

I’ve written about this in the past several times but the topic bears repeating (over and over) again.

Sandsters, there’s a world of difference between the two above categories. You are well served to understand this difference prior to embarking on a renovation project.

Notwithstanding any of the drivel regularly posted on Facebook, having a disagreement

with your builder, does not mean they are defrauding you or abandoning your project.

Avoid drama, take a deep breath and focus on the issues.

Here’s the analogy: You don’t get divorced because you had an argument with your spouse about where to go for dinner. You don’t fire your builder because your interpretation of the trim on the deck is different from his and the contract is not exactly clear.

What you do in that situation is behave like an adult, put personalities aside and come to a common ground that everyone might be slightly unhappy with.

(That is one of the more important take-aways from this blog).

Misunderstanding is materially different from contractor fraud, abandonment, mismanagement or incompetence.

PLEASE Sandsters – learn and understand the difference – it will serve you well and keep you sane.

The objective is to complete the project and move you back into your home. It is not about personalities, or who is right or wrong. It is about dealing with, and accepting, that human communication is complicated and fraught with misunderstanding.

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.

Bankruptcy & Insolvency ALERT –

Read the last few blogs for more detail, but suffice to say, the 2 largest elevation contractors in south Jersey (defined as south of Toms River) are not solvent, and generally unable to complete projects in a timely manner.

If you are considering an elevation project south of Toms River, make very certain you are dealing with a company that can complete your project. If you are not sure and have no one to advise you, call or text us for assistance.

Facts, Facts, Facts – Repeat about Shore House Lifters

If you are one of those unfortunate folks who isn’t hanging on my every written word, (can you believe there are still people out there like that??), you missed the last blog, and you’re dealing with, or considering dealing with Shore House Lifters, stop reading this blog right now and click on the 8/14/16 blog for a very detailed warning and caution before proceeding any further with that company. I’m tired of cleaning up their messes. And Price Home Groups. And G&L Construction. And Axis Builders. And the list goes on and on…

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat – And the Really Interesting Last Look Method that works!

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it bears repeating. See the last 2 blogs.

Last Look or If you don’t ask, you’ll get nothing: If you are making a final decision and are between 2 builders that you like, where one is slightly more expensive but you like them much more and one is cheaper but you have concerns over him,

Ask the builder or contractor you like and want to use to meet your proposed budget number or the other written estimate.

I recommend this particular technique because it is easier for you. There is less detail and discussion about particular pricing and ultimately you don’t really want or need to know all the whys and why nots and details of a particular estimate.

If your first builder choice can meet the price you need or at least the other valid estimate from another contractor, that’s good enough for you.

Anyway, you have nothing to lose by asking your 1st choice builder to meet your budget number.

That being said, your builder choice should also:

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.

This category, as well as worker’s compensation and social security disability, is something Kathy Dotoli, who is an attorney in Toms River, covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar. Feel free to call her directly at 732 228 7534 for further discussion. Come to the seminar or call us and we will send you the handout.

Signing Blind Contracts – PLEASE STOP DOING THIS SANDSTERS!!

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.

Further detail in past blogs.

Repeat: Good Advice – Contractor’s Corner

– Tips and Warnings about Speaking Directly to Workers and Sub-Contractors on Your Project:See the last three blogs.

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 an 88 unit 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! I am a social media illiterate but thankfully there are some great people on the Dream Team that are Facebook addicts and will communicate with you on Facebook 25 hours a day…

Dream Homes – 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 www.stopfemanow.com

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

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com 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. 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 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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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, 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.

Good luck and good building!

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog 8/27/16 – RREM Program Manager Defined – Contractor Fraud Warnings – RREM Rebuilding Seminar 9/14/16 – Foundation System #3 – Retaining Your Own Engineer

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

8-27-16

Alternate Foundation System – Builder Honorable Mention – Thoughts about Using Your Own Architect or Engineer – September Rebuilding Seminar – Last Look & Working with your Favorite Contractor- What actually is a RREM Program Manager?

Hello Sandsters –

Here’s hoping your summer (and your building project) is going well.

I’m happy to say that things are going well for us. As more idiots stop pretending to be builders and contractors, or run out of money, we’re getting more and more referrals, both from professionals as well as satisfied clients.

They always come back to BryllCreem…. And if you remember that little slogan, you’re probably a card carrying member of AARP (like myself, unfortunately).

I hope you’re not one of the folks stuck cleaning up their project when their builder stops work, runs out of money, declares bankruptcy or simply disappears. Deadbeat builders are dropping like flies out there.

That’s bad for the people it’s happening to, but much better for the market and the economy overall. A smaller pool of competent people is a much better market solution than an enormous pool with a significant degree of thieves. My feelings towards professionals that steal from homeowners are well known. In my opinion, tarring and feathering was retired much too early as an effective deterrent to basic thievery.

Today, we have a few items for you – contractor cautions to be aware of, and warnings (repeated) about having multiple contractors work on your home at the same time. We give honorable mention to a decent, honest builder, who we excoriated in the last blog (fair is fair). We define the term Program Manager, which must be the most misunderstood concept under the sun. We caution you against multiple change orders and their inherent risks to your project in delays and cost overruns. Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is Wednesday September 14th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

September Dream Homes Events:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar –Wednesday September 14th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.

This seminar is going to be great – don’t miss it. We’re giving away a $50 Home Depot Gift Card to a lucky Sandster.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday September 14th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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 space is limited.

Once again,  professionals will be speaking. Kathy Dotoli, who is a worker’s compensation lawyer in Toms River, will also give her excellent presentation on precautions to take to ensure a smooth relationship with your contractor. We’ll have one of our architects or engineers speaking, though we’re not sure exactly which one. This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project so bring your info (or send it to us ahead of time) and get some questions answered.

Program Manager – What Exactly does that term mean??

For the record, I would like to clarify this term for all the RREM Sandsters who are confused about exactly what it means.

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 lead you through the confusing RREM maze. That’s it. Nothing further.

The do not consult with you on construction process, give legal advice or comment on who you should choose as your builder, or even if they are good (or even solvent).

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

Facts, Facts, Facts – Repeat about Shore House Lifters

If you are one of those unfortunate folks who isn’t hanging on my every written word, (can you believe there are still people out there like that??), you missed the last blog, and you’re dealing with, or considering dealing with Shore House Lifters, stop reading this blog right now and click on the 8/14/16 blog for a very detailed warning and caution before proceeding any further with that company.

Opinion – Repeat: For clarity– I want all the good business we can responsibly handle, but I sincerely wish that I never have to rescue another homeowner from a dishonest contractor. No one with integrity wishes to grow their company in that manner. There are too many deadbeats still out there – be careful who you jump in bed with.

Hiring Your Own Architect or Engineer:

I’ve written about this in the past, and have shared various thoughts. This is an update which reflects my most recent experiences.

The upshot, though a general statement, is that dealing with your own design professional does not save you any money and generally costs you time and stress.

Let’s break this down to practicalities and real dollars and sense.

1st, the reality is that the architectural/engineering cost to you is the same (usually less), whether you deal with the professional yourself or retain your builder to handle this aspect of the project.

2nd, you will save yourself a tremendous amount of time, since you will avoid the constant interaction between your professional and your builder. Your builder will handle the professional discussions and break it down to simple language you can understand.

3rd, you will avoid excess costs which are incurred when you design your plan with your architect without input from the person who will be building your project. Remember – architects and engineers draw pretty pictures, which sometimes are not the most cost effective methods to achieve your objectives. Sometimes (too often) the plans cannot be actually constructed as they are designed.

Last but not least, if there is an error and you’ve designed your own plan, you’re responsible for your architect’s errors. When you give a plan (that you’ve designed) to a builder to estimate, any errors in the plan are ultimately your responsibility and will cost you money.

Points to ponder, Sandsters. Sometimes we try to save money – and end up stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

It takes a Village, or Hire a Team, not a Person – worthwhile repeat

A client recently told me how comfortable they were working with us, since they felt that we brought a team to the table and could handle anything that arose during a project. While this was a (very) nice and true thing for them to say, and for us to hear, it illustrates a deeper point about choosing the company who will build or rebuild your home.

It takes a village, folks. You need a good team to bring the ball from one end of the field to the other.

No one performs complicated projects alone. Your builder is the manager, the ring leader, the conductor and the orchestrator of the process. Ideally, behind him (or her) is a qualified talented team of employees, subcontractors, professionals and advisors who all participate and assist in getting a project completed successfully.

If you aren’t getting that feeling when you interview builders, look elsewhere. Your builder doesn’t have to know everything, or do everything, but he needs to be able to draw from a deep talent pool to effectively complete your project.

Foundation Techniques: Piers versus full walls – Important if you are currently considering options

This is one of the most important (and complicated) topics in rebuilding. When you are trying to decide on the best method, there are numerous options as well as varied cost differences.

Today, I’d like to bring your attention to one design concept which can save you money.

Instead of running a complete concrete block foundation up from your existing block or your new footing, consider 16” x 16” concrete piers on either individual 24” x 24” footings, or on a continuous grade beam.

This option saves you approximately 70% of the concrete block cost, as well as the cost of a continuous footing (if you choose and the soil will permit, individual concrete footings).

Keep in mind that this is an excellent option if you don’t want to enclose the basement/crawl space. If you do want to enclose, you have to factor in the cost of the skirt wall surround. The skirt wall is pressure treated studs with either cement board or exterior plywood and it’s used as an exterior wall.

Even if you choose to enclose, using this method, you can still save between 20% – 30% of the cost of a solid concrete block foundation. The higher you are going with your elevation, the greater the savings.

Honorable Mention – Rare but Positive Behavior

In the last blog we wrote about John Cafiero from Axis Builders, a dishonest cretin who will probably soon be living in substandard 6’ x 10’ housing , and mentioned someone who he sucked into his world of nonsense and talked into posting a picture of our finished home on his web site. As an update, I’m happy to say that we received a call from NJ Home Builder principal Daniel Sachkowsky, who not only removed the pictures of our home from his website, but called us to explain that he was one of the people duped by Axis Builders and apologized for the mistake. Since such civilized intelligent conduct is so rare, I feel compelled to publicly thank Daniel for his decency and let all of you know that I’m happy to know another honest NJ builder. Thanks for the call and the decency, Daniel.

Call to Action – RREM & General Contractor Fraud

To say that our justice system is broken as it relates to contracting is an incredible understatement. We have much greater oversight in a vast number of other professions, often where much less money is at stake. If you are a realtor, you are monitored closely and made to adhere to a code of conduct. If you are an investment professional, you are held to the highest standards of fiduciary conduct (I know – I had a Series 6, 7 & 3 licenses a long time ago). If you are a building inspector, you are overseen by the DCA and must behave in a proscribed manner by a set of rules. If you sell insurance, the department of banking oversees your behavior. Summary: If you accept people’s money, you should be held to a higher standard, and in any other business other than construction, you are.

Alert – Action Needed from the DCA: We need different levels of home improvement contractor registrations, dictated by dollar amount. The person building your $4000 deck should not be permitted to accept a deposit for a $150,000 elevation project. They most likely are not capable (in numerous ways) to handle the responsibility.

There should be a simple registry where all building projects over $25,000 are posted, with the contractor, license number, start, projected completion date and ongoing status of the project are listed on a constant basis. We could put that together in about an hour in our office. One would think the DCA could do it in 6 months or so or careful deliberations.

If a builder abandons a project, becomes insolvent or has numerous complaints lodged against them, it should be available for public review. This creates an objective reference point for evaluation and anyone can simply consult the site and see how many times the company in question has sung the same song.

 

As a new home builder, we have to offer a 10 year warranty on our new home construction, and if there is an issue and it is not resolved, it is a matter of public record, and our license is not renewed. There is no such device for home improvement contractors, nor is there a distinction in the financial amount or sophistication of various projects. This procedure hurts the consumer.

For further detail and fiery rhetoric, see the last blog.

Repeat – Partial – Beware of fancy trucks and equipment – You’re paying for it – PRICE HOME GROUP is only one notable example and is symptomatic of many other contractors;

Debt is a killer, Sandsters. Though it is relatively impossible to determine, the amount of debt a company carries on depreciable assets (vehicles, equipment, furniture and fixtures) as well as their fixed overhead, dictates behavior. You can request a balance sheet and income statement but you might not get one. If it’s not audited, it means little anyway.

We have no debt. We own everything outright. We don’t buy new vehicles – ever. We very rarely buy new equipment. We have the same office we’ve had for 14 years. We have low overhead. Everyone rows or we throw them out of the boat. We are not flashy. I may be one of the most boring people on the planet – and my clients like that. We’re quietly competent. We don’t need to impress anyone with anything but our performance.

Ultimately, you want to work with someone who is not taking your deposit to make truck payments, pay high salaries, support a fancy office and dazzle you with nonsense.

The real questions are, “How many projects have you completed?” (We’ve finished 145 in the last 3 years, and over 1500 new homes in 200 + developments in the last 2 decades)

“How many projects are unfinished?” (We have 0 unfinished projects)

“How many clients are suing you for misappropriation of funds, fraud or consumer fraud?” (We have 0).

What is the Difference between Non-Performance & Fraud versus a Difference of Opinion??

Important Repeat:

I’ve written about this in the past several times but the topic bears repeating (over and over) again.

Sandsters, there’s a world of difference between the two above categories. You are well served to understand this difference prior to embarking on a renovation project.

Notwithstanding any of the drivel regularly posted on Facebook, having a disagreement

with your builder, does not mean they are defrauding you or abandoning your project.

Avoid drama, take a deep breath and focus on the issues.

Here’s the analogy: You don’t get divorced because you had an argument with your spouse about where to go for dinner. You don’t fire your builder because your interpretation of the trim on the deck is different from his and the contract is not exactly clear.

What you do in that situation is behave like an adult, put personalities aside and come to a common ground that everyone might be slightly unhappy with.

(That is one of the more important take-aways from this blog).

If there are issues to be worked out and personalities are getting in the way of completing the project, do what baseball does (As a note, I am not a sport fan at all) and bring in a designated hitter.

I am blessed with a wonderful team of people around me and we regularly designate different people to deal with different clients, as the situation dictates. (Though it may be inconceivable, some people find me annoying. I know, unbelievable right?) Result: We bring in someone else to deal with that particular client and life goes on.

On the client side, sometimes the husband is very difficult and the wife becomes the voice of reason (or vice-versa) and all moves along swimmingly. As my mother used to say, the train gets back on the track.

The result? The project moves forward, which is the ultimate (and only) valid goal. Once a project is done, everyone is happy, harsh words are forgotten and life goes on.

Misunderstanding is materially different from contractor fraud, abandonment, mismanagement or incompetence.

PLEASE Sandsters – learn and understand the difference – it will serve you well and keep you sane.

The objective is to complete the project and move you back into your home. It is not about personalities, or who is right or wrong. It is about dealing with, and accepting, that human communication is complicated and fraught with misunderstanding.

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.

Delays – 2 Reasons that cause the Biggest Delays & Biggest Issues:

Excessive change orders and lack of, or slow, payment are the most common causes for project delay.

If you don’t have money on hand to fund your project while waiting for RREM reimbursement, it’s really important that you keep on your RREM Program Manager about the progress of your payment requests. If you don’t say anything, disbursements take much longer and this can translate to delays in paying your builder, which could slow your project.

See the June 5th blog for more detail.

Bankruptcy & Insolvency ALERT –

Read the last few blogs for more detail, but suffice to say, the 2 largest elevation contractors in south Jersey (defined as south of Toms River) are not solvent, and generally unable to complete projects in a timely manner.

If you are considering an elevation project south of Toms River, make very certain you are dealing with a company that can complete your project. If you are not sure and have no one to advise you, call or text us for assistance.

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat – And the Really Interesting Last Look Method that works!

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it bears repeating. See the last 2 blogs.

Last Look or If you don’t ask, you’ll get nothing: If you are making a final decision and are between 2 builders that you like, where one is slightly more expensive but you like them much more and one is cheaper but you have concerns over him,

Ask the builder or contractor you like and want to use to meet your proposed budget number or the other written estimate.

I recommend this particular technique because it is easier for you. There is less detail and discussion about particular pricing and ultimately you don’t really want or need to know all the whys and why nots and details of a particular estimate.

If your first builder choice can meet the price you need or at least the other valid estimate from another contractor, that’s good enough for you.

Anyway, you have nothing to lose by asking for your budget number.

That being said, your builder choice should also:

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.

This category, as well as worker’s compensation and social security disability, is something Kathy Dotoli, who is an attorney in Toms River, covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar. Feel free to call her directly at 732 228 7534 for further discussion. Come to the seminar or call us and we will send you the handout.

Signing Blind Contracts – PLEASE STOP DOING THIS SANDSTERS!!

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.

Further detail in past blogs.

Repeat: Good Advice – Contractor’s Corner

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

See the last three blogs.

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 an 88 unit 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! I am a social media illiterate but thankfully there are some great people on the Dream Team that are Facebook addicts and will communicate with you on Facebook 25 hours a day…

Dream Homes – 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 www.stopfemanow.com

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

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com 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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above 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.

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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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, 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.

Good luck and good building!

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – 8-6-16 – Builder Hall of Shame – September RREM Seminar – Bizarre RREM & FEMA Behavior – Change Orders & Cost Overruns

Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

8-6-16

Builder Hall of Shame Blog – Trade Partners – Hale Built – Caution Bankrupt Contractors – September Rebuilding Seminar – Deadbeat Contractors and Warnings – Last Look & Working with your Favorite Contractor-

Hello Sandsters –

Long time no speak. I’ve been getting a lot of heat from my fans (bless their hearts) for not blogging regularly, so you have a double blog here for your bathroom reading.

Here’s hoping your summer (and your building project) is going well.

With any luck, you are not one of the (many, many) folks stuck cleaning up their project when their builder stops work, runs out of money, declares bankruptcy or simply disappears. To say that the landscape is bizarre is a vast understatement.

Today, we have a new one for you – a builder who abandoned a job after 15 months of inaction, waited until we finished the project and then posted pictures of our (lovely) completed project on Facebook (you can’t really make this stuff up). John Cafiero and Axis Builders get honorable mention in the Hall of Shame and the Deadbeat Contractor Category. Again we have bankruptcy cautions you should be aware of, and warnings (repeated) about having multiple contractors work on your home at the same time. We define the term Program Manager, which must be the most misunderstood concept under the sun. We caution you against multiple change orders and their inherent risks to your project in delays and cost overruns. Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is Wednesday September 14th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

September Dream Homes Events:

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar –Wednesday September 14th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.

This seminar is going to be great – don’t miss it. We’re giving away a $50 Home Depot Gift Card to a lucky Sandster.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday September 14th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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 space is limited.

Kathy Dotoli, who is a worker’s compensation lawyer in Toms River, will also give her excellent presentation on precautions to take to ensure a smooth relationship with your contractor. We’ll have one of our architects or engineers speaking, though we’re not sure exactly which one. This is a great chance to meet our professional team, and there’ll be plenty of time for discussion about your project so bring your info (or send it to us ahead of time) and get some questions answered.

Facts, Facts, Facts

I’ll keep this paragraph brief and stick strictly to the facts, for several reasons. For one, I do not wish to delve into my opinions on the matter or bore you with rhetoric (more than enough of that below). For the second, I don’t want Steve Smith from Shore House Lifters to file suit against me for slander.

Fact: In the last month, we have had 3 clients bring their unfinished projects to us from Shore House Lifters.

Fact: In the last 2 years we’ve had 17 clients come to use with unfinished projects from Shore House Lifters, which we completed.

Fact: In all cases, Shore House Lifters had accepted very large deposits and had left unfinished projects for 6-15 months.

Fact: Shore House Lifters has a very strong contract – to protect them from clients.

Fact: Shore House Lifters payment schedule requires a project to be 80% paid prior to the house being lowered onto a new foundation.

Fact: Shore House Lifters is the only company that regularly underbids us and other reputable companies to be awarded projects. Their projects are bid incorrectly – they are priced too low to be finished correctly in a timely manner.

Those are all facts, folks. My opinions are another story and would be much stronger and decidedly more colorful.

Be advised accordingly.

Final Fact: It’s disheartening to continue to have clients come to us when others have failed them and left them in limbo.

Opinion: For clarity– I want all the good business we can responsibly handle, but I sincerely wish that I never have to rescue another homeowner from a dishonest contractor. No one with integrity wishes to grow their company in that manner. Thank God we’re here to help, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if this type of help wasn’t required?

It takes a Village, or Hire a Team, not a Person

You know, on a side note before I get into other business, a client recently told me how comfortable they were working with us, since they felt that we brought a team to the table and could handle anything that arose during a project. While this was a (very) nice and true thing for them to say, and for us to hear, it illustrates a deeper point about choosing the company who will build or rebuild your home.

It takes a village, folks. You need a good team to bring the ball from one end of the field to the other.

No one performs complicated projects alone. Your builder is the manager, the ring leader, the conductor and the orchestrator of the process. Ideally, behind him (or her) is a qualified talented team of employees, subcontractors, professionals and advisors who all participate and assist in getting a project completed successfully.

If you aren’t getting that feeling when you interview builders, look elsewhere. Your builder doesn’t have to know everything, or do everything, but he needs to be able to draw from a deep talent pool to effectively complete your project.

America is Good – and getting Better! Repeat

This was such a great article in the January 24, 2016 Sunday Star Ledger, that I summarized it in the last blog on 7/3/16. Go back and reread it for inspiration, or better yet, dig up the article online and read that. It makes you proud to be an American.

Deadbeats and Disreputable Contractors – Good Lord, does this song ever change??

Moving on to a topic in the same vein, I bring you today one of the more egregious, absurd occurrences in this rather bizarre business. I mean, we’ve been regularly underbid by builders who later abandon their projects, take their clients money or declare bankruptcy, only to have the poor Sandster contact us in tears to come fix things.

We do that regularly. I should be called The Cleaner. We have 26 active projects and 7 are “rescues”.

Usually they skulk off into the mud like the cretins they are and leave broken houses and lives, depleted bank accounts and manna for the attorneys.

But this is a new one. A builder who abandoned a job in Ship Bottom after 15 months of inaction (Hello John Cafiero from Axis Builders, now working under NJ Home Builder with Daniel Sachkowsky, who is now listed as the owner of Axis, and formerly of several other companies which have gone out of business) posted really nice pictures on Facebook of the wonderful completed project – that we finished for the homeowner after they fired Axis and instituted litigation. The poor woman called us for 8 months in tears while we finished the house next store, while waiting for the Axis shell game to wend its course through her life.

To add to the litany of the bizarre, John and his lovely wife are life coaches as well as being dishonest builders. Outstanding! How about this for some life coach advice, John? Perhaps a quick perusal of the Ten Commandments or maybe just the Boy Scout Motto would be appropriate.

Come on, really? If we must be deadbeats, must we also denigrate the work of decent folk? Is it not enough to steal, defraud, and not perform, without consideration for a person’s life, property, assets or sanity?

I’ve been building and developing for 23 years and in my entire career I have never seen this type of nonsense regularly being perpetrated upon the citizenry.

To say that our justice system is broken is an incredible understatement. How in God’s name can contractors and builders regularly defraud laymen, and not have the immediate might of our judiciary pounce upon them? How many times does one have to steal money from clients before they are not permitted to continue to pursue their craft?

Folks, we have greater oversight in a vast number of other professions. If you are a realtor, you are monitored closely and made to adhere to a code of conduct. If you are an investment professional, you are held to the highest standards of fiduciary conduct (I know – I had a Series 6, 7 & 3 licenses a long time ago). If you are a building inspector, you are overseen by the DCA and must behave in a proscribed manner by a set of rules. If you sell insurance, the department of banking oversees your behavior. If you accept people’s money, you should be held to a higher standard.

Why can people who can’t do simple math in their heads are permitted to accept a 40% deposit on a $150,000 projects without any oversight? (The real question is WHY ARE SANDSTERS STILL GIVING BUILDERS 30%-40% DEPOSITS TO START PROJECTS, but that is another, recurring topic).Why can builders who regularly defraud clients permitted to continue being contractors and accepting client’s money without any requirements as to probity, honesty, performance history or solvency?

It’s pathetic.

Those of you who know me, know that I am absolutely not a proponent of big government, or most government for that matter. I feel that when one is free adult of majority age, one should be permitted to harm oneself however one pleases, without government protecting us from our own foibles. Our government was originally intended to provide for the common defense and maintain a republic where capital crimes were not permitted, and not a heck of a lot else.

That being said, when there is such a ridiculous preponderance of criminal behavior that it becomes a material percentage in an industry, the case could be made that there should be some oversight and guidance, and a barrier to entry that is higher than a $200 yearly fee and production of a general liability policy.

We should absolutely have different levels of home improvement contractor registrations, and they should be dictated by dollar amount. The person building your $4000 deck should not be permitted to accept a deposit for a $150,000 elevation project. They most likely are not capable (in numerous ways) to handle the responsibility.

As they say, while on a rant, stay on it….

How about a simple registry where all building projects over $25,000 must be registered, with the contractor, license number, start (and completion) date and the status of the project are listed? We could put that together in about an hour in our office.

If the builder abandons a project, becomes insolvent or has numerous complaints lodged against them, it is simply noted. An objective reference point, as opposed to a subjective forum (like Facebook).

That way laymen can simply consult the site and see how many times the company in question has sung the same song.

As a new home builder, we have to offer a 10 year warranty on our work, and if there is an issue and it is not resolved, it is a matter of public record, and our license is not renewed. There is no such device for home improvement contractors, nor is there a distinction in the amount or sophistication of various projects. All of this accretes to the consumer’s detriment.

Moving on in the same disgusting path, be aware that dishonest contractors are most often serial misfits. Talk about a sad fact of life. That means that the idiot that took your money took your neighbors last month and will take your other neighbors next month.

It’s true – most contractors who defraud people have done it over and over and over….and over….and over again. It’s like heroin addiction. “Let’s see how many people we can rip off this month!” “How much of a deposit can we get from this client so we can pay our subs for the last job?” “Once we have their money, let them sue us”.

It’s deplorable that we allow serial dysfunction on this level, to this degree, in this monetary magnitude. By my simple calculation, and based on an extrapolation of clients we have rescued over the last 3 years, there is $45,000,000 in fraud out there, whether in the midst of prosecution or simply abandoned due to lack of energy or resources.

That is simply abysmal oversight on the part of our regulatory system. RREM has a fraud fund with a $20,000,000 budget, to assist homeowners who have been victims of fraud or insolvency. The real question is why can’t we be able to access a list of projects that have failed and contractors who are guilty of this behavior?

Aggghhhh. Groan. What pathetic nonsense.

To all of the completely nefarious assholes out there that are taking Sandsters money and leaving their lives in shambles, a scourge and a pox on you, and a wish that karma will visit you with your just desserts. You deserve to be relegated to (at least) the 7th rung of hell in Dante’s Inferno. You are lousy, criminal, vile creatures.

Come pick on me – all 5’ 6” 150 pounds of me. Fight someone who can fight back. I’ll set you straight. Someone has to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Play in the Bigs – leave the innocents off the battlefield. Go out honestly and fight on the capitalist field of battle. Stop stealing money, peace of mind and sanity from innocent people.

It’s tragic Sandsters. We’ve been retained by 4 new clients in the last month, who’ve had their lives ruined by people such as this. BE REALLY CAREFUL WHO YOU WORK WITH.

Onward and upward but staying in the same pig slop.

Beware of fancy trucks and equipment – You’re paying for it – PRICE HOME GROUP is a notable example

The boys at Price Home Group were recently indicted for fraud and misappropriation of RREM funds, to the merry tune of $880,000 from RREM and $280,000 of clients’ money. That’s a lot of spoiled fish.

3 years ago they popped up out of the weeds – an attorney, a salesman and a small remodeling contractor. They decided they were going to (here we go again) open nice new offices, get a bunch of nice new trucks, pay everyone nice big salaries and – most importantly – take a whole big pot of money in deposits for modular homes they were going to build. We know how this worked out.

There are 17 victims named in the indictment. The principals and the company have declared bankruptcy. They had 100+ other clients who were also defrauded in one manner or another. Many houses are sitting unfinished. Many were never even delivered.

Modular builders rarely know how to build or manage a building company. I say rarely as opposed to never because I’ve recently met a good modular builder who actually knows how to stick build and renovate. .That’s a rarity. Most modular builders are order takers.

Side note: 3 years ago PHG called us in and offered us the opportunity to finish a number of their modular homes, since they had sold so many in such a short period of time. (They sold that many because the homes were under priced by $40,000, which took me about 2 seconds to figure out. You can’t sell a house for $100 per square foot when finished cost is between $110 – $120 in NJ. Call me a genius). I went and met with them and said, “Sure I’ll take as many as you want. I’m a production builder. I’ll take 20-30 – whatever you need done.” I asked for a scope of work. 3 weeks later I got a rambling 2 paragraph email listing all the things needed to finish a house. I went to see several of their jobs. I remember coming back to my office and saying, “These guys aren’t going to be around in 2 years. They have no idea what they’re doing”. Chalk up one smart prediction for me – and chalk up 100+ miserable people who had their lives disrupted from PHG.

Debt is a killer, Sandsters. Though it is relatively impossible to determine, the amount of debt a company carries on depreciable assets (vehicles, equipment, furniture and fixtures) as well as their fixed overhead, dictates behavior. You can request a balance sheet and income statement but you might not get one. If it’s not audited, it means little anyway.

We have no debt. We own everything outright. We don’t buy new vehicles – ever. We very rarely buy new equipment. We have the same office we’ve had for 14 years. We have low overhead. Everyone rows or we throw them out of the boat. We are not flashy. I may be one of the most boring people on the planet – and my clients like that. We’re quietly competent. We don’t need to impress anyone with anything but our performance.

You want to work with someone who is not taking your deposit to make truck payments, pay high salaries, support a fancy office and dazzle you with nonsense.

The real questions are, “How many projects have you completed?” (We’ve finished 145 in the last 3 years, and over 1500 new homes in 200 + developments in the last 2 decades)

“How many projects are unfinished?” (We have 0 unfinished projects)

“How many clients are suing you for misappropriation of funds, fraud or consumer fraud?” (We have 0).

(Note: we do have several active lawsuits against fraudulent clients, who took RREM funds and decided they wanted to keep them for vacations and new furniture, and have decided not to pay us. Aside from being quite illegal to misappropriate federal funds, this behavior is pathetic and was unheard of prior to Sandy. People who work for their money don’t rip other people off. People who are given money may not be up to the task of responsibly disbursing it, but that’s another subject entirely.)

As they say, while on a roll, stay on it and bring out the cream cheese (actually no one says that since I just made it up, but it is pretty catchy…)

What is the Difference between Non-Performance & Fraud versus a Difference of Opinion??

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

Sandsters, there’s a world of difference between the two and you are well served to understand this point prior to embarking on a renovation project.

Notwithstanding any of the drivel regularly posted on the evil monster Facebook (although I have to thank FB for making us aware of Dear John Cafiero, since within hours of his post, no less than 8 of our clients alerted us to the fact that since he couldn’t finish any of his own projects, he was taking pictures of ours), having a disagreement

with your builder, does not mean they are defrauding you or abandoning your project.

Avoid drama, take a deep breath and focus on the issues.

Let’s all say this again: You don’t get divorced because you had an argument with your spouse about where to go for dinner. You don’t fire your builder because your interpretation of the trim on the deck is different from his and the contract is vague.

What you do in that situation is behave like an adult, put personalities aside and come to a common ground that everyone might be slightly unhappy with.

(That may be one of the more important take-aways from this blog, other than the cream cheese joke above).

If there are issues to be worked out and personalities are getting in the way of completing the project, do what baseball does (I am not a sport fan at all) and bring in a designated hitter.

I am blessed with a wonderful team of people around me and we regularly designate different people to deal with different clients, as the situation dictates. (Though it may be inconceivable, some people find me annoying. I know, unbelievable right?) Result: We have someone else deal with that particular client (Tim, Valerie, George) and life goes on.

On the client side, sometimes the husband is very difficult and the wife becomes the voice of reason (or vice-versa) and all moves along swimmingly. As my mother used to say, the train gets back on the track.

The result? The project moves forward, which is the ultimate (and only) valid goal. Once a project is done, everyone is happy, harsh words are forgotten and life goes on.

That is materially different from contractor fraud, abandonment, mismanagement or incompetence.

PLEASE Sandsters – learn and understand the difference, and it will serve you well.

The objective is to complete the project and move you back into your home. It is not about personalities, or who is right or wrong. It is about dealing with, and accepting, that human communication is complicated and fraught with misunderstanding.

Foundation Thoughts: Repeat but Important if you are currently considering options

This is one of the most important (and complicated) topics in rebuilding and one we don’t spend enough time discussing. When you are trying to decide on the best method, there are numerous options as well as varied cost differences.

Without discussing the entire range of options (which is a book in and of itself) I’d like to bring your attention to one design concept which can save you money and help you with some of your exterior finish decisions.

Instead of running a complete concrete block foundation up from your existing block or your new footing, consider partial or full wood framing for your above ground foundation system.

Though it is not a traditional concrete block foundation, wood framing affords different options for interior as well as exterior finished. It also weighs significantly less than concrete block, which may be the difference between constructing a completely new foundation and adding on to existing block.

Wood frame construction for your foundation walls costs less than block (15% – 20%) but must be finished on the exterior in some manner. Concrete block is usually parged with 2 coats of mortar and is in itself a finished surface.

On the other hand, frame walls need either cement board as an exterior sheathing material, need siding extended down from existing siding, or need to have some other wall treatment such as cultured stone.

Summary and take – awayFoundation choices: Frame construction above grade is a good alternative to using only concrete block, and has advantages in weight, but to get a true financial and practical picture of your foundation choice, you have to consider both the inside and outside finishes you will want to use.

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.

Delays – 2 Reasons that cause the Biggest Delays & Biggest Issues:

Excessive change orders and lack of, or slow, payment are the most common causes for project delay.

If you don’t have money on hand to fund your project and are depending on RREM, it’s really important that you keep on your RREM Program Manager about the progress of your payment requests. If you don’t say anything, disbursements take much longer and this can translate to delays in paying your builder, which could slow your project.

See the June 5th blog for more detail.

BANKRUPTCY – FRAUD ALERT –

Alert!! A LEADING NJ ELEVATING COMPANY IN THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE STATE HAS DECLARED PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY WITHIN THE LAST 2 MONTHS.

They are still in operation while reorganizing.

BEWARE. BE CAUTIOUS. WHEN IN BANKRUPTCY ALL EXECUTORY CONTRACTS OF ANY TYPE CAN BE VOIDED IF THE TRUSTEE DEEMS IT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CREDITORS. Your elevation contract is an executory contract and could be voided.

Definition: You can lose your deposit, or money invested if the federal bankruptcy trustee deems the contract invalid for any reason.

Again, in the “I can’t believe these people are not in jail” category, a HOUSE LIFTER at the SHORE (READ BETWEEN THE LINES HERE SANDSTERS) who is a very popular (read: cheap) elevation company, which I have been writing about forever, chose the inventive path of declaring personal (instead of corporate) bankruptcy. They are screwing their clients throughout NJ and under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office – We signed 4 clients in the last month who instituted suit for lack of performance.

BE CAREFUL Sandsters. Make sure the people you are dealing with are representing solid, real companies.

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat – And the Really Interesting Last Look Method that works!

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it bears repeating. See the last blog – this blog is already approaching novel length.

Last Look or If you don’t ask, you’ll get no where: If you are making a final decision and are between 2 builders that you like, where one is slightly more expensive but you like them much more and one is cheaper but you have concerns over him,

Ask the builder or contractor you like and want to use to meet your proposed budget number or the other estimate.

I recommend this particular technique for discussion because it is easier for you. There is less detail and discussion about particular pricing and ultimately you don’t really want or need to know all the whys and why nots and details of a particular estimate.

If your first choice can meet the price you need or at least the other valid estimate from another contractor, that’s good enough for you.

Anyway, you have nothing to lose by asking.

That being said, your choice should also:

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.

This category, as well as worker’s compensation and social security disability, is something Kathy Dotoli, who is an attorney in Toms River, covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar. Feel free to call her directly at 732 228 7534 for further discussion.

Signing Blind Contracts – PLEASE STOP DOING THIS SANDSTERS!!

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.

Further detail in past blogs.

Repeat: Good Advice – Contractor’s Corner – Tips and Warnings about Speaking Directly to Workers and Sub-Contractors on Your Project:

See the last blog – this blog is already approaching novel length.

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 an 88 unit 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! I am a social media illiterate but thankfully there are some great people on the Dream Team that are Facebook addicts and will communicate with you on Facebook 25 hours a day… 

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. George Kasimos does a great job and needs your help also. To get involved and either donate or volunteer your time to this worthy effort, please visit their web site, which is www.stopfemanow.com

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

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com 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. The numbers on your Flood Elevation Certificate indicate how high in vertical feet your crawl, finished floor and grade are above 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.

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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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!

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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Dream Homes Rebuilding Blog – RREM, Cheap Money, Foolish Behavior, The Last Look Concept, Seminar July 13th

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

6-5-16

Hello all –

Hopefully your weekend is going well and you are getting ready for the official start of summer.

For today’s blog, we have some fraud alerts and elevation contractor bankruptcies, which is always good reading. We have our (continued effort to) talk about foundation design ideas and options, we explore the concept of “Last Look” when you are getting estimates for your project, and we talk about cheap money and foolish behavior. Finally we mention our next Rebuilding seminar – which is Wednesday July 13th at 6 pm at Tuscan Bistro & Bar in Toms River.

July Dream Homes Events: Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar –Wednesday July 13th – 6 PM – Tuscan Bistro in Toms River.

Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be held Wednesday July 13th, 2016 from 6 pm at the Tuscan Bar and Grill on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, across from the Ocean County Mall. 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.

Rich McGowan from Prospect Mortgage will talk about financing options with the SBA to help bridge the gap from your RREM and ICC funding. Kathy Dotoli, who is a worker’s compensation lawyer in Toms River, 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.

Money’s So Cheap Now, It’s Almost Criminal to Wait to Improve Your Real Estate….

It’s always cost/benefit calculation at the heart of it.

Money’s cheap so the smart money invests in capital assets, which appreciate when interest rates rise.

Interest rates are definitely going to rise in the short term, although probably very little and very moderately.

So if you can borrow $50,000 more than your current mortgage while you are elevating or repairing, and add $75,000 – $100,000 in value to your property, and it costs you another $150 – $200 per month on your mortgage, you should probably choose to make the improvement.

We can help you with this calculation but a good rule of thumb is if the improvement serves a function and is not simply a vanity project, that’s a good start.

A new kitchen is great. Spend $10,000 – $20,000 – not $50,000.

Same with the pool, if you’re thinking about one.

You probably cannot overbuild adding a nice deck, unless it is much more than 10% of the value of your house.

These are only a few examples – there are hundreds.

Call me at 732 300 5619 to discuss. 

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. 

Delays – 2 Reasons that cause the Biggest Delays & Biggest Issues:

Excessive change orders and lack of, or slow, payment.

These are the most common causes for project delay.

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

Steady cash flow helps any building project.

Your builder should not be hounding you for money, and nor should they have to chase you.

95% of the time, if bills are paid within 1-4 weeks of invoicing (once you are comfortable that a fair amount of work has been completed), everything moves along fairly smoothly

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.

BANKRUPTCY – FRAUD ALERT –

Alert!!  A LEADING NJ ELEVATING COMPANY IN THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE STATE HAS DECLARED BANKRUPTCY WITHIN THE LAST 2 MONTHS.

They are still in operation while reorganizing.

THEY DECIDED THEY WANTED TO BE GENERAL CONTRACTORS AND WORK WITH RREM CLIENTS AND MANAGED TO GO BANKRUPT IN 15 MONTHS.

Good show men. Screwing up in a raging bull market after a natural disaster takes a special talent.

BEWARE. BE CAUTIOUS. WHEN IN BANKRUPTCY ALL EXECUTORY CONTRACTS OF ANY TYPE CAN BE VOIDED IF THE TRUSTEE DEEMS IT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CREDITORS.

Definition: You can lose your deposit, or money invested.

Another leading elevation company, which I have been writing about forever, chose the inventive path of declaring personal (instead of corporate) bankruptcy.

So all his money is being sucked out of the company, which is why his client’s houses are up in the air for a long, long, long time.

WARNING WILL ROGERS! WARNING!! REPEAT REPEAT!!!WAKE UP AND DON’T GET RIPPED OFF! CHEAPER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER!

Don’t want to beat a dead horse here. See last 4 or 5 blogs for more detail on this.

Finding the Right Builder…Repeat – And the Really Interesting Last Look Concept that works!

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.

Last Look: If you are making a final decision and are between 2 builders that you like, where one is slightly more expensive but you like them much more and one is cheaper but you have concerns over him,

Ask the builder or contractor you like and want to use to meet your proposed budget number or the other estimate..

I recommend this particular technique for discussion because it is easier for you. There is less detail and discussion about particular pricing and ultimately you might not really want to know all the whys and why nots and concerns of any professional builder.

If they can meet the price you need or at least the other valid estimate, so be it.

If they’re good and honest and they can’t, they should tell you.

Anyway, you have nothing to lose by asking.

That being said, your builder also 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.

This category, as well as worker’s compensation and social security disability, is something Kathy Dotoli, who is an attorney in Toms River, covers in depth at our Rebuilding seminar. Feel free to call her directly at 732 228 7534 for further discussion.

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.

Further detail in past blogs.

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.

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.

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 www.stopfemanow.com

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

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com 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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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 question

Good luck and good building!

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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 –

5-22-16

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.

REPEAT REPEAT!!!

WAKE UP AND DON’T GET RIPPED OFF! CHEAPER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER!

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.

SPECIFICALLY: IF YOU ARE BEING ASKED FOR A $30,000 OR $40,000 DEPOSIT ON AN $80,000 –$ 100,000 PROJECT YOU ARE PROBABLY ABOUT TO BECOME A VICTIM.

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 www.stopfemanow.com

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

You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com 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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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!

Regards,

Vince

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

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: #foxbuilder

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

Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 1-5-14 – RREM Lunacy – Health tips – Repeat: Electrical Reconnection Explained – Winter concrete and scheduling – Time out of your house – Delays and Helping Your Builder

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

1/4/15

Hello Sandsters and Happy New Year!

I hope everyone’s holiday was healthy and drama free. Let’s raise a glass (or several) to a happy, healthy, prosperous, stress free New Year. May your life be peaceful and your project proceed like greased lightning.

This blog has some provenance. I started it 3 times since the last one, which goes to show you how things have been lately in Rebuilding Land. (Note to Vince: If you want to run with the Big Dogs and not snooze with the Fat Chihuahuas, you will survive on 5 hours sleep per night and not complain.)

Hopefully this post finds you well and successfully moving along with your project.

I have a ton of interesting things for you today, but I’m going to follow my own advice for a change about getting something done though it may not be perfect, complete or comprehensive. Maybe if I didn’t try to write a whole book each time and cover 10 topics….

On the subject of books, I promised myself I’d write a book about Rebuilding after Sandy / Dealing with RREM when I got 100 requests and at this point I’ve received more than triple that number. So look for the Sandy Iliad by Vince sometime this spring. The blog is a good resource but it would be nice to have all the info organized in one place that you can actually refer to without a computer.

New development: Dream Homes Mobile Web Site is Now Live!! You can now log onto www.dreamhomesltd.com from your mobile device and see a mobile site tailored to a smaller screen. Yay! Only took us 6 months to get it working, but we finally got there. It’s the whole turtle/hare thing personified in living color.

Let’s jump into this, shall we? I have RREM Retardedness for you, health and nutrition tips for winter survival, time out of your house, winterizing your home, dealing with concrete and foundation issues and about 50 other things I want to write about. We’ll see where we end up.

Jumping in the deep end of the pool, this weeks Insanity, brought to you courtesy of RREM….

In pursuit of blinding inefficiency and in a typical effort to slow recent tendencies towards solid forward motion, RREM has come up with some new hurdles for you and your poor builder to endure.

Ready for this time sucker? We all now have to supply all professional licenses from all design professionals involved in a project to the RREM program manager when submitting an invoice.

So that stamp, seal and signature affixed to your plot plan, survey, piling certification, and engineer or architects drawing is no longer sufficient to establish ones qualifications.

Evidently the entire building department infrastructure throughout NJ (complete with zoning officers, licensed building subcode officials, and township engineers that review our submittals) are unqualified to determine that our professionals have the required qualifications to perform their services.

Calm your heart though. The Rhodes Scholars who are sitting in as RREM program managers can opine on these qualifications! Whew! Lucky we have them to perform the same work we are already paying for when we receive a permit! One can never have too many safe guards and you know what they say, 200 idiots are vastly superior to one thinking man. Who said that, Stalin? Mao? Some blithering moron.

Doesn’t unnecessary procedure just piss you off? The only thing that happens when payment requests are delayed needlessly is that work slows. Every bit of unnecessary nonsense serves as friction – and costs Sandsters and others living in Sandy towns in numerous ways.

Grrrr! Why are we coming up with activities that have nothing to do with expediting reconstruction? It is the Peter Principle writ large. The level of paperwork will inevitably increase to fill the capacity of the idiots hired to administer it, with no consideration of cost / benefit. Quite sad.

Sandsters – What Exactly are you paying your builder for? As we’ve said numerous times in the past, it’s not a good idea to general contract your own home elevation project yourself…or to try and help your builder do what you’re paying them for. Remember that construction is a complex system, where every component affects a number of other items, some of which are critical. Keep constant changes to a minimum and stick with the plan as much as possible. Every change causes delay and additional cost – make sure the change is worth the result (again the cost/benefit issue).

Remember Sandsters – You are paying for a finished project delivered in a timely fashion in budget. You are not paying for an education of the specifics necessary for the 1000 decisions that are made during a project or how to specifically perform them.

A general clear understanding of what is happening or going to happen is important – an intimate understanding of how every nail in the house is placed is not only not important but will hinder progress and inevitably cause frustration. Put another way, it’s one thing to boot the computer and log on to the Interweb; it’s another to understand the science of exactly how this the Interweb gets into your computer so you can watch YouTube.

Repeat: Electric Reconnection –Explained: I wrote this last time and it received a number of calls and emails thanking me, so I am throwing in a brief repeat paragraph here. For a comprehensive (finally) understandable explanation about how exactly your electric is reconnected to your house, and what you have to do to make it happen, read the last blog from 12/13/14. I do a page that details everything.

Summary: When your house is set back down on the new foundation after a lift (or when your new house is sided), the electrician lowers the meter pan and stack so the top of the glass is no more than 6’ from the ground and no less than Base Flood plus 1. If your flood elevation does not permit the meter to be set low enough, a platform must be built so the meter reader can climb up and read the meter.

(Author’s note: Platforms for electric meters are Dippity Doodle Dumb – see last blog for detail. Yes that is a construction term).

When the meter pan and stack have been lowered (new siding must be in place), your builder or electrician will call the township for an Electrical Service Inspection (not to be confused with a rough electrical inspection, which is completely different). The township electrical inspector (not the electric company) will come out, look at the outside pan and stack, check heights and grounding, make sure the top breaker in the inside panel is also not more than 6’ from the floor, and you will hopefully pass your Electrical Service Inspection.

At this the township will (hopefully) send in a Cut In Card to your electric company, which let’s them know that the service was installed correctly and they can come out and set a meter. I say “hopefully” because sometimes the township forgets to do this simple little task and you languish quietly and suffer, thinking the world is spinning correctly on its axis, when it is not.

Usually within a week or so, a meter will magically appear at your house, you will have power at your panel and at least one circuit will be working. Now the electrician can complete the rest of the reconnections to the house, or installation of the wiring if it is a new home, and your builder can call for a Rough Electric Inspection. Once that passes, you can get frame inspection or insulation inspection if needed and close your walls.

Again, see the last blog for mind numbing detail on this subject.

Repeat – Reminder: Start your design work now to be in for summer 2015. If you haven’t started your design work, you’re just about cutting it too tight at this point to be in for summer. If that’s your goal, call us immediately so we can help you make that happen.

Repeat: Soil boring, plans, survey, plot plan. If you haven’t found a builder who is handling all of this for you, there’s no reason other than sloth why you shouldn’t get it started yourself. Design and survey fees cost you the same amount whether you handle them yourself directly with the architect, engineer, township, etc. or whether you have your builder or contractor handle that work. It’s just a question of being able to start working on your project, even if you haven’t chosen a contractor. It will definitely take you longer if you handle it yourself though.

If you want to get your house finished by summer, and still take advantage of cheap winter rentals at the beach, you have to get started now.

If you have your design work done and RREM under control, what are you waiting for to get started??

House Lifting – Winter schedule – Delays: We have 28 active projects now going between Point and Atlantic City with a number starting in the next few weeks, and in addition to being plagued by permit and review issues, we now have weather issues to deal with. Joy.

Though building departments in Sandy affected towns will unfortunately be the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding and the permit and inspection process will sadly continue to slow everything down, you should be aware that an average of 10 days (more for incompetent builders) will be added to the cycle time for projects that begin in the winter.

Remember: The temperature has to be at least 25 degrees Fahrenheit and rising in order to pour concrete and this condition has to hold for at least 4-6 hours in order for concrete to cure correctly.

In addition, footings have to be dry when inspectors come out, which means you may have to dewater or pump your footing both to get inspection as well as to actually pour the concrete.

Concrete costs more in the winter also, since inevitably calcium hydroxide (anti-freeze) is added to the mix (which is a winter mix) to retard the water from freezing and allow the concrete to form correctly. Costs are easily 10% higher than normally.

Over the last 2 years we’ve averaged 7-8 weeks to have a house reset on a new foundation and all utilities on, I’ve noticed that no matter what we do projects are always delayed in the winter.

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.

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.

You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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.

Go Pro Action – I now have a ton of video I have to get up on the blog. I’ve been strapping on my Go Pro, filming the chaos that is a house lift and have numerous videos. Stay tuned for greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. 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 me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, 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 do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an 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.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894

Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000

PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · Pilings · Rebuilding · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Path C

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 9-21-14 – World Record for House Lifting? – Rebuilding Seminar Review – More Crazy, Disgusting Delays in Permitting & Inspections – RREM Path B Secrets

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

9-21-14

Hello Sandsters!

Hopefully this post finds you well and moving along with your project.

Welcome to the Fall with some beautiful weather. If only it was in the 70’s and sunny during the day every day…

Today we’ll talk about just a few things, and my intention is to finish a Bloglet tonight before nodding off, without writing something as long as Homer’s Iliad. (Note from 2 hours later – failure again). For some reason when I leave the house at 7 am, I seem to get a bit tired around 8 at night and have trouble putting simple sentences together…if only I had the energy I had when I was 20 with just a tiny bit of the common sense I have now.

Most importantly (at least from where I sit), we’ll lay claim to the current World Record for Most House Elevations in a Single Week. We’re doing three this week (with one complete today already) which is a pretty amazing feat. We’ll review our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar of 9/10/14, some more unforgiveable, miserable time issues with a shore townships and we give you the latest in RREM policy to speed things up (IE: get Sandsters more money, more quickly.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Review – September 10th – Our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar in Manahawkin was very successful and we helped a bunch of Sandsters move their projects along. Thanks to Jeff Barton, architect and Evan Hill, engineer who joined us and had some great thoughts and suggestions. Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library in November so stay tuned for an exact date.

World House Lifting Record – We’re claiming it now! Ok, we are proclaiming ourselves as the World House Lifting Champions (until someone else comes along and usurps us from that particular throne). We have 3 houses being elevated this week, with one already complete and I can’t believe any other company in NJ (the country? The world?) is doing that many in a single week. I don’t care who it is – if there is a company doing more than 3 lifts a week, I want to meet them.

Yes, it is a bit crazy and a definite challenge, but one must take the pitches as they’re thrown and struggle gamely to knock them out of the park. If the permit process was slightly more predictable and it didn’t take 7 weeks, 3 weeks and 1 week in 3 separate townships in 2 counties, we could possibly plan things a bit more evenly. But – when we get permits, we go. No excuses or delays. There’s no way we’ll ever be part of any delay – 5 minutes after getting a permit in hand, I’m scheduling the lift, the demo, the foundation and the decks…and ordering the gas to be reconnected.

Building & Zoning Departments – Warning – Beware of THE PUSH !!: That’s when you bring in a pile of paper and grovel before the person at the counter, who detects a period out of place and slowly pushes your application back to you with a smirk, a sad shake of the head and a, “Get what you’re missing and come back and try it again…better luck next time…!”.

Why do they do this at the township level? It usually buys them 3-5 days of being able to avoid dealing with another file. Instead of taking the file in and noting one or two items that are missing, they push it back to you and delay the process again. Sad but true.

Here we go again with The Blog Rant… (once again – justified and completely accurate). Question for ALL SHORE TOWNS – Aren’t you part of the Socialist State of NJ or are you sovereign nations like the Vatican?

In other words – Why don’t townships in NJ have to adhere to the laws concerning building permit review and time for inspections?

What am I missing here? Here’s an idea we should try – Calling all Sandsters – let’s go out tomorrow and start breaking petty laws with abandon in any Sandy affected town. When the nice police officers stop you and try to give you a summons, explain that you are in a Sandy affected township and you are trying your best.

Bam! The perfect Get Out of Jail Free Card!

I mean, it works for the townships so why shouldn’t it work for the common Sandster populace? Wait a second…in fact, don’t the Sandsters comprise the townships?

Wondering I am, is there a special reason permit reviews that should be limited to 21 calendar days (by law) take 6 weeks? How about inspections that should be completed within 72 hours (by law) taking 8 or 9 days?

Did anyone pass a law that we all missed? Why are all of the Sandster population subject to the laws and restrictions of NJ and the townships that comprise the state of NJ are not subject to the same strictures?

Next time you get pulled over for texting, going 5 mph over the speed limit, not wearing your seatbelt or any other onerous transgression, try telling the police officer you shouldn’t be subject to that particular law because you were affected by Sandy.

Let me know how that works out for you.

I’m thinking we should move to a Domino’s Pizza format – 21 days or It’s Free! What’s wrong with that?

Every single Sandster I know would be delighted to save $2000 if the permit process took 22 days or longer!

Why not? We’re being charged for permit review and inspections – they’re not currently free.

An additional idea (kind of like the 2 free toppings) is to have the township pay us $100 for each inspection that is scheduled over 72 hours. If that happened, let’s all say it together, “Take your time Townships!! Just pay me if you’re late!”

I am rethinking my Call to Action…maybe all the Sandsters should be lobbying for the 21 Days or It’s Free Bill in the state legislature…and thank you Domino’s Pizza for an excellent concept!

For me to call out these townships is a strong statement – for them to continually delay this process is absolutely unconscionable. Repeat: Building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary. 

Think I’m annoyed? You bet I am. You should be also.

If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the mayor and the DCA and complain. Eventually something will change. Heck, most of the ridiculous RREM policies were changed after enough people yelled and screamed about them (and I wrote incessantly in this blog.)

Ok, enough of that for now. Townships be warned. Sandsters are really tired of being treated like we’re an annoyance. We’re paying your salaries and it’s time you started realizing that – and high time we started reminding you quite loudly.

Tip (repeat) to Speed Up Your Project: Reminder to apply for your zoning permits as soon as you are able, even if other items needed for building permits are in process. Zoning permits have become and will remain, a definite cause for delay. (see the last 2 blogs for more detail). Remember – every building permit application in NJ must go through zoning approval first and there is no reason not to take care of that step as soon as possible and avoid delays.

RREM Path B – Latest Secret: Ok, finally we’ve arrived at a performance based metric for evaluation of program managers, as opposed to a completely ephemeral vague guideline. Program managers are now being evaluated based on how much money they manage to release to Path B Sandsters in a given period of time. That is excellent news for those Sandsters who are prepared and ready to go, since yours is the file that is now most likely to be plucked from the queue and given priority. Really folks, think about it – this is cause for minor celebration. We’ve finally (and not a moment too soon) arrived at a rational evaluatory process to gauge how we’re doing with RREM.

Summary: If you’re not getting movement on your file, look to yourself first because you better believe your PM is very interested in getting money out to you.

RREM Path C Sandsters – Repeat: Unfortunately, I get a few emails each day about Sad Sandsters Stuck in Path C. The unfortunate truth is that if you are in that position, you pretty much have to make the best of it. If you love that long, your project will (eventually, hopefully) be completed.

For all the Sandsters who have written and asked if there is some nefarious process going on, generally there’s nothing weird happening other than typical inefficiency and contractor paranoia about the RREM process. If you’re dealing with a national out of state contractor, double your time estimate. No matter who you are dealing with, your costs will be 30% – 40% higher than the real market. Path C jobs do move forward, albeit very sloooooooowly…like elephants mating it’s accomplished with a lot of kicking and screaming, occurs at a high level and takes 2 years to achieve any results.

Reminder – Repeat – Common Sense: If you aren’t living in your home, and know you are raising or demolishing it, call for your electric, gas and cable disconnects. There’s no reason not to, and it will be one more item off the list. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.

Definitions:

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.

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.

You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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.

Go Pro – I am going to get a Go Pro and film the chaos that is a house lift. Stay tuned for laughs and (hopefully) greater clarity and understanding about what actually happens when we lift homes.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. 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 me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, 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 do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

That’s all for today Sandsters and I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well and sane.

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894

Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000

PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog: http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · Pilings · Rebuilding · Renovations · RREM Path B · RREM Path C

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 9-9-14 – Rebuilding Seminar Tomorrow Night – More on Dirty Words to Avoid in Construction – Building in the Winter – RREM Path B Design Scope News – Zoning comments and Disgusting Delays in Shore Townships

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

9-9-14

Hello Sandsters!

Hopefully this post finds you healthy and moving along with your project.

We’re still in the summer and the weather has been beautiful. If we lived in California or South Carolina, it would be like this all the time, but we are coming into fall in NJ, which means we have to get our acts together and get projects going before the thick of winter. Last year we (unhappily) built right through the miserable winter weather and each year I pray that global warming will hurry up and land here in NJ. 

Today we’ll talk about a few things, like a reminder about our Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar tomorrow night, some miserable time issues with a few shore townships and how you can save time prepping your permit applications. We touch a little bit more on how to stay sane during the rebuilding process and we revisit some money items about GAP funding and RREM Design Scope costs under Path B.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar – Tomorrow Night – Our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar will be tomorrow night in Manahawkin at the Holiday Inn, where we had our July seminar. We’ll have Jeff Barton, architect and Evan Hill, engineer joining us and I will be fielding general construction questions and concerns. We still have a few spots left so if you are interested call me at 732 300 5619 to reserve your space. Light refreshments will be served.

Building Departments & Zoning issues – Warning – Expanded !!: Reminder to apply for your zoning permits as soon as you are able, even if other items needed for building permits are in process. Zoning permits have become and will remain, a definite cause for delay. (see the last blog for more detail). Remember – every building permit application in NJ must go through zoning approval first. No reason not to take care of that step as soon as possible and avoid delays.

More importantly, here’s a drum I am going to start banging on like a mad Aborigine and I have a feeling it will become one of my (justified, completely accurate) rants. Question for Bricktown and Little Egg Harbor and a few other towns – are you folks splitting the atom or just reviewing building permits so we can rebuild our homes? Do you have to look on the Holy Face of God for inspiration or simply review our applications to make sure we’re at least one foot above base flood elevation?

For me to call out these townships is a strong statement – for them to continually delay this process is absolutely unconscionable and more importantly, economically counterproductive.

As a note, I am not that guy – I am always polite, pleasant, courteous and give people, companies and townships (too much!!) the benefit of the doubt. I’m done with that nonsense, at least where building departments are concerned. It’s getting me nowhere.

I am now convinced that building departments in Sandy affected towns are the single largest cause of delay in rebuilding. Period. End of analysis. It’s not the building process – it’s the permit process that’s slowing everything down. I welcome intelligent dispute from anyone with knowledge to the contrary.

Let’s all say it together – the LAW in the State of New Jersey (also sadly known as the Socialist Republic of New Jersey) is that all building permits will be approved or denied within 21 calendar days or submission and building inspections shall occur within 72 hours of being called in and accepted.

Just to clarify in case you were watching a Seinfeld rerun, that’s not my opinion, that’s the law.

It’s not arbitrary, subjective, or subject to interpretation. It’s also quite easy to understand, assuming you have access to a calendar.

Next time you’re caught speeding, explain to the fine officer that your township has been Sandy affected and therefore you are not subject to the same strictures as the rest of the common peepul. Let me know how that works out for you.

Think I’m annoyed? You bet I am. You should be also.

Let’s all start picking up the phone and calling the DCA (Department of Community Affairs) when our permits are held up. We’re paying our towns for permits and inspections – we should receive the service we are entitled to.

Lest you think this is a nonsensical rant, consider these thoughts. My single small company with 18 active projects is currently being held up on 4 different properties because of illegal delays in permit approvals. We are constantly held up with inspections that are scheduled later than 72 hours from being requested – sometimes over a week late.

How many other projects are being unnecessarily delayed because of bureaucratic nonsense? Heaven help the State of NJ if I put in the time to do a fiscal analysis of what this means to all of us living in NJ on a macro level in real dollars. I don’t even want to see that result.

If you are being delayed, call the building department every single day and complain. After they ignore you a sufficient number of times, call the DCA and complain. Eventually something will change. Heck, most of the ridiculous RREM policies were changed after enough people yelled and screamed about them (and I wrote incessantly in this blog.)

Grrrrr…..isn’t this process difficult enough? Shouldn’t building departments be working with us and not against us? Isn’t it in everyone’s best interests to move the process along? How are the tax ratables going to be restored to pre-Sandy levels if building is delayed because permits and inspections take twice as long as they should? We have 35,000 houses to rebuild and last year we pulled 800 permits. At this rate, I’ll be collecting social security before we get close to finishing (I am 49, by the way).

Ok, enough of that. For now. Townships be warned. Sandsters are getting really tired of being treated like we’re  an annoyance. We’re paying your salaries and it’s time you started realizing that – and high time we started reminding you quite loudly

RREM Path B – Design Scope News: It’s still not official, but is being approved on a case by case basis. If you haven’t received your first 50% payment from RREM, you can get your design costs paid by the program instead of from your Path B pocket. Ask your case manager about this item.

Helpful Note: Typical design scope costs, including full survey package, architectural/engineering design and plans and township building permits averages about $10,000 – $11,000. That’s a decent savings, if you can get RREM to pay for it.

Dirty Words and Other Unpleasant Subjects: From the last blog, I received a bunch of positive comments about the 11th or 12th Dirty Words, which are “problem” and “can’t”. Many Sandsters wrote how they immediately stopped using those words and felt much better about things!

Let’s all substitute these words and terms going forward and see how much better we feel each day.

Instead of “problem”, let’s try “obstacle”, “concern”, “issue”, “wart on the path of progress”, “opportunity for better understanding”, or “chance to learn and grow”.

Eliminating the use of the word “problem” from your lexicon will eliminate “problems” from your life.

Try it and let me know how it works. Keep a sense of perspective and remember what’s important.

RREM Path C Sandsters – Unfortunately, I get a few emails each day about Sad Sandsters Stuck in Path C. The unfortunate truth is that if you are in that position, you pretty much have to make the best of it. Yes, it is cumbersome and inefficient, but it is the bed you’ve made and you should resign yourself to sleeping in it, regardless of bed bugs and crumbs. The good news is that your project will (eventually, hopefully) be completed.

The bad news is that there are so many cooks in your kitchen that no one can even get an egg boiled. For all the Sandsters who have written and asked if there is some skullduggery going on, generally there is nothing weird happening other than typical inefficiency and contractor paranoia about the RREM process. If you’re dealing with a national out of state contractor, double your time estimate. Path C jobs do move forward, albeit very sloooooooowly…think glacial melting, global warming and turtles mating.

Repeat by request – Building in the winter? Constraints and concerns: We can and do build through the winter (this past winter was miserable, unpleasant, wet, snowy, rainy, sleety, yucky, crappy, frozen…did I say unpleasant?) but we were still out there uncomfortably freezing our little butts off. Most of the listed items are inconveniences as opposed to critical path items that cannot be overcome. The one exception is the temperature as it pertains to masonry construction. You can pour concrete and do masonry work at a minimum of 25 degrees Fahrenheit (and rising) with the addition of calcium (antifreeze) to the concrete mix. Any temperature lower and the concrete will not set correctly. Above 32 degrees F you can pour with no problem. Also, the concrete should set prior to temperatures dropping at night, or be covered with thermal blankets. Summary: winter at the shore is generally not too much of an impediment to progress, although rain, sleet, snow and consistent temperatures under 25 degrees will definitely cause delays in your project.

Reminder – Repeat – Common Sense: If you aren’t living in your home, and know you are raising or demolishing it, call for your electric, gas and cable disconnects. There’s no reason not to, and it will be one more item off the list. You can also go ahead and demo your house if you are certain you’re not raising it, and have chosen to rebuild.

Definitions:   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 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.

            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.

Author’s note: It is legal to have your architect or engineer include the plot plan on the engineered drawings, but I don’t recommend it since it will probably cause your zoning officer to grab the Maalox. You may think you’re saving money, but 90% of the time you aren’t since you will have to revise and resubmit.. Your surveyor generally does a much more thorough job including grades, elevations and setback notes than your architect or engineer.

You Tube Link to a Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg 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.

Searching the Rebuilding after Sandy Blog for Your Topic: One of the (few) nice things about WordPress is the Search function. Just enter a key word and it will take you to blogs where the subject you’re interested in was discussed.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. 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 me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, 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 do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

That’s all for today Sandsters and I hope it helps you move forward. As always, call or write with any questions. 

Stay well.

Regards, 

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894

Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000

PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://blog.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder

House raising and Moving · Monmouth & Atlantic County · New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean · Pilings · Rebuilding · Renovations

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 7-13-14 – RREM Path B Changes – Don’t Get Ripped Off – Finding a Builder & Getting Estimates – Material, Labor and Capacity Issues –

Dream Homes Ltd. Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
7 – 13 -14

Happy summer Sunday to you, Sandsters!

So many things to write about and so little time…seems Sunday mornings every 2 weeks are the only time for creative writing exercises, so here we go.

Today we’ll talk about some of the immediate effects of the recent RREM changes eliminating Path C, scheduling notes and comments for your project, getting started (once again) and builder capacity issues. We’ll sadly write a few sentences about scams and other contractor errors which have cost some of my Sandster friends significant amounts of money and give you some ideas to avoid being taken advantage of. Of some importance to everyone is our next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar on July 23rd at the Manahawkin Holiday Inn, which will be excellent and useful for you if you are either planning or have started on your project. Finally, we’ll write about how to efficiently get the estimate or estimates you need from qualified builders in order to move forward.

At least, that’s what I have planned…1500 words later, we’ll see where we wind up. No pretence today about a short blog, since I blabbed a half page for just the intro…brevity is a constant, rarely attained goal of mine.

Anyway, let’s roll…

RREM Path C No More – Path B is the only Path to Rebuilding Happiness (other than winning the lottery and abandoning the RREM program – note that this is a partial repeat from the 6/29/14 blog): As all of you already know, or should know, the DCA announced that as of 7/1/14, Path C is no more. As of June 30, 2014, if you haven’t already signed up for Path C, you will not be able to (trust me – you are better off). There will be only Path B. As an important note, anyone who has signed up for Path C already is grandfathered in and your project will proceed normally under state guidance. To any Sandster stuck in Path C, we will keep you in our prayers. Please see the 6/29 Blog for more detail about this subject or give me a call.

Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Date – 7/23/14 at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin: Our next Nearly Famous Seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin and will happen on July 23rd from 6 – 9 pm.
We’ll have Evan Hill from Dewberry Engineering offering advice on engineering and structural issues and Kathy Dotoli, Esquire sharing some legal tips and reminders about safely moving forward with your project. I’m also trying for Scott Lepley, from ARL Architects and Steve Brasslett from Ivy League Mortgage, but both of these gentlemen are (wisely) enjoying the summer and might be in Bimini (or Vermont in Scott’s case). We will see who wanders in. As always, I will be moderating and providing building commentary and comic relief.
Last year’s Manahawkin seminar was very popular and this year should be even better, so please call me at 732 300 5619 to reserve your space. We currently have 14 people confirmed and capacity of about 35, so sign up if you want to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

RREM – More Money!! In any case, now RREM is free to push people to make decisions since there is no more ability to rely on Path C. You’ll have to take a position – either run with the big dogs or stay on the porch. That’s the stimulus that will get the money spent in time for the November deadline. I figure we’re about $150 – $200 million or so short of the goal of $450 million, which is achievable when you consider it’s going out in $75,000 chunks. 1500 or so new Sandsters in the mix and all of a sudden you’re getting it done, and now we have another $800 million to spend on those Sandsters who are on the wait list. This is a really outstanding development for all of us. Please see the 6/29 Blog for more detail about this subject or give me a call.

Material & labor shortages & Builder Capacity Issues – Partial repeat & New information:
As we’ve said previously, prices for both material and labor have increased quite a bit in the last 6 months and they will continue to do so. The upside of steadily increasing amounts of business in the economy is greater competition, which causes a ceiling on material and supply pricing. The downside is that skilled labor and management talent is always and will continue to be a concern.
If you are trying to get a real, accurate estimate from a builder or contractor, try and be as clear as possible about what you want quoted, what is your time frame and most importantly, if you are shopping around to everyone under the sun. No one wants to waste their valuable time with the knowledge that you will be getting 10 estimates before making a decision and that it may be based on nothing other than price. If you communicate this to your prospective general contractor, you will find it hard to get an estimate.
The irony is that RREM will tell you to get three estimates for your home elevation or rebuild project and often you will be really lucky to get one, especially for an elevation project. As much as you may want to compare pricing between various builders, you must consider the other important aspects of that decision: reputation, experience, time to begin and complete, responsiveness, financial strength, and construction knowledge.
As a note, I am generally running about 2 weeks after a site visit for an accurate estimate. I tend to focus on prospective clients who I know want to use our services as opposed to clients who start and end each conversation with “I only care about the lowest price”. Most people don’t know what the total price will be when presented with an estimate, since most estimates are not comprehensive.
As a note, though we do not charge as of yet for this service (since we wind up doing most of the projects we estimate), However, it is not unreasonable for a builder to charge $250 – $500 for an estimate, which should be deducted from your estimate if you proceed with that builder.
Be wary of anyone who gives you an estimate without visiting your project first – it is almost impossible to estimate accurately without going to the site. Remember – “You never Know until you Go” and “The Map is not the Territory”.

Estimates – Pay Attention to Total Cost: As I’ve said in the past and want to stress again, it is not the individual price you receive for an item or a service, it is the total cost to have it installed and working in your house.
Likewise, it is not the number at the bottom of an estimate that tells you total cost, it is what is or is not, included. Sadly, we are now working on rescuing 5 projects where the previous contractor either slipped out in the night, drastically underbid the project or simply doesn’t know how to move forward. In all cases, the amount of money received is far in excess of the work that has been completed.

Key question – Ask your builder or contractor “Is everything included in this estimate in order for me to get a Certificate of Occupancy?” It is common to have line items with pricing and amounts to be determined as the project moves forward, but it is not fair or ethical for your contractor or builder to deliberately exclude items that he or she know are needed (and you don’t) in order to offer you a lower estimate. You wind up going with the low bid, only to be confronted with repeated additions that are necessary to complete your project. Sandsters, this is the oldest trick in the building and contracting book and has been around since the time of the Phoenicians. Don’t fall for it. Ask questions until you understand, or don’t proceed.

In addition, let’s all say it together – “Smart Sandsters are careful to not pay too much ahead of time”. Deposits are certainly necessary and a 5% deposit at contract signing in order to start a file and book a date is quite reasonable.
However, prudent practice dictates that both you and your builder adhere as closely as possible to the payment schedule in the contract or signed estimate. Deposits are sometimes necessary prior to work being completed, with the most common instance being the deposit for the house lifting portion of the project. This might be 20% – 40% of the value of that portion of the estimate and is needed to lock in the date for the elevation. Other than that item and an initial deposit to get started, Smart Sandsters pay for work in place and inspected (if appropriate), not for work to be done. Write this down and post it on your fridge. You are the only one who will know when you are comfortable bending or changing this rule of thumb. If you’re comfortable and live in a neighborhood with 5 other people who have used your builder successfully, that offers comfort and less concern. If you are not comfortable making a payment or are confused, call me, your attorney, your architect or another professional who can offer an objective view of what is happening.

As a note, Kathy Dotoli, Esquire does a great job on this topic at the seminars with sound precautionary advice that is useful for everyone. Visiting your builder’s office and completed and current job sites is always a prudent idea.

Capacity – Can Your Builder Handle Your Project? All businesses have capacity issues and are organized (or not, as the case may be) around a certain projected yearly volume. There are 3 general sizes for builders and general contractors, as follows. Small builders or general contractors generally have a capacity of between 5-10 projects a year and deliberately will not exceed that number. The company will work with the same small subcontractors who will follow from job to job. This is the most numerous category and there are many competent small builders out there. (There are also too many general contractors and modular home builders who have little or no idea how to elevate a home or demolish and reconstruct a new home.) The only downsides to using an excellent small builder other than the fact that you will wait until your project can be scheduled is pricing may be slightly higher than with a large or medium builder. Neither of those reasons is a tragedy – you can wait for the person or team you like or try to find someone else.
Medium size builders & general contractors generally have capacity of 50 – 100 projects a year. We fall into this category, with current yearly capacity of about 125 projects, including new homes and elevations. This year we will complete 45 – 60 projects. Advantages include better scheduling, generally more responsive subcontractors and quicker completion times. As a development and production builder for 20 years, I find it easier to operate at this level because I have a much greater pool of qualified professionals from which to draw. We also enjoy efficiencies of scale and more rapid response times when we have 4-5 projects active in a town or area. This size is small enough where you can enjoy good communication and access to your builder, but large enough to offer the financial resources and depth of construction expertise that is needed.
Large Builders & general contractors have capacity of 150 + projects a year. There a few large NJ contractors & builders that are good and a number of former RREM Path C contractors who come from out of state and should be avoided. There is nothing wrong with dealing with a large local company, other than the experience may not be as personal, you will not be able to change anything once you’ve started without paying significantly for it, and your pricing may be slightly higher than normal due to greater overhead. If you go this route, choose carefully and try to find someone who is currently and has been working in your area. Avoid an out of state contractor if possible.

SHRAP Funding – Many of you know about it and some of you don’t. SHRAP can help pay for rent or mortgages, provide appliances and supplies and pay for other additional soft costs. Go on the http://www.renewjerseystronger.org
Website for more info. Everyone is qualified – you just have to apply.

Extremely bright note – Repeat – GAP funding will shortly be available to Path B recipients! That is outstanding news and long overdue. (I mean, one would rationalize that without a Path C towards which to artificially direct valid Red Cross funding, GAP funding will now be available to Path B Sandsters, but that is unconfirmed though broadly acknowledged as of this date). Once again, great news. Remember, GAP funding is income based, so if you qualify you get it. $30,000 is $30,000 and I specifically know it will help bridge the gap for a lot of people.

Repeat from 6/23 & 6/29/14 Blogs – Sandsters – Call to Action! If you want to enjoy your house this summer but still want to be back in your elevated home before Thanksgiving or even the end of the year, you must start your design scope very soon. You will want to have your final plans, survey, plot plan, flood elevation certificate and permit packages ready to go immediately after Labor Day (for Thanksgiving) or October 1 (for end of year), which means you should have started already or be getting started in the next few weeks. If you still need a soil boring and geotechnical analysis, make sure you order it soon. You will need to call for electric, gas, phone and cable utility disconnects yourself, and your builder will generally handle water and sewer cut and cap services. When you do call for disconnects, make sure you request a date certain for the shutoffs.
The point is to not procrastinate too much longer if you want start in the fall and be back in your house before Thanksgiving. So stop pondering and pull the trigger!

New Sunset Beach Model arriving soon in Toms River! For those of you thinking of designing a new home, we’ve recently introduced a new model called the Sunset Beach. It’s a very different house with a distinct island look and feel. This model is being done in about 1800 square feet but can be as small as 1400 and as large as 2500 square feet. Send me an email if you want to check out the new plan. We’ll be starting the house soon on Rt 37 West in Pelican Island so stop by and see us.

Elevation – Repeat – Definition: Remember that 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 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.

You Tube Link to the last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg
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.

Searching the Rebuilding after Sandy Blog for Your Topic: One of the (few) nice things about WordPress is the Search function. Just enter a key word and it will take you to blogs where the subject you’re interested in was discussed.

Special Feature for clients from Dream Homes: We take photos of all of our jobs on a regular basis and upload them to Dropbox. We then send a link to each client with their houses folder, so they can see what’s happening each day. Everyone seems to like this – you can feel very connected to the process even if you can’t be there.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. Whether or not you are Dream Homes/Atlantic Northeast Construction client or not, I will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction. If you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, 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 do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

That’s all for today Sandsters – generally good news and I hope it helps you. As always, call or write with any questions.
Stay well.

Regards,

Vince
Dream Homes Ltd.
Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC
Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894
Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000
PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731
Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802
Cell: 732 300 5619
Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com
Website: http://www.dreamhomesltd.com
Blog:http://www.dreamhomesltd.com
Twitter: foxbuilder

New Homes & Rebuilds in Ocean, Monmouth & Atlantic County

Dream Homes Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog – 6-23-14 – Changes to RREM Path B & C, Foundation ideas to Save $, Scheduling your fall project.

Dream Homes Ltd. Nearly Famous Rebuilding Blog –

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

6 – 23 -14

Happy Summer Sandsters ! 

Summer’s finally here and I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather.

Today’s blog will talk about ongoing changes to RREM, particularly concerning Path B & C. We’ll talk about different options for the lower area of your raised house and discuss errors in your project and how to deal with them. We’ll offer some money saving tips and discuss sizing your new house correctly. We try and talk more construction today, but many of us are focused heavily on RREM so we discuss recent and proposed changes to both Paths. Finally, a call to action for anyone wanting to start in the fall and be back in their house for Thanksgiving.

Next Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar Date – Next month at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin: Our next Nearly Famous Seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin and will happen sometime in the 3rd week of July. I haven’t firmed up a date but as soon as I do, I’ll post it. Last year’s Manahawkin seminar was very popular and this year should be even better. Call me at 732 300 5619 to reserve your space.

Sandsters – Call to Action! If you want to enjoy your house this summer but still want to be back in your elevated home before Thanksgiving, make sure you start your design scope very soon. You will want to have your final plans, survey, plot plan, flood elevation certificate and permit packages ready to go immediately after Labor Day, which means you should have started already or be getting started in the next few weeks. If you still need a soil boring and geotechnical analysis, make sure you order it soon. In mid August, you will need to call for electric, gas, phone and cable utility disconnects yourself, and your builder will generally handle water and sewer cut and cap services. When you do call for disconnects, make sure you request a date certain for the shutoffs.

The point is to not procrastinate too much longer if you want start in September and be back in your house before Thanksgiving.

So carpe the old diem, tempus fugit, get the lead out and get going!…JJ

Another point to keep in mind is the fall season of this year will be extremely busy up and down the shore and you will definitely face scheduling and builder availability issues if you don’t get started soon. Reputed material shortages are not founded in reality, although material price appreciation certainly is a concern.

This week’s RREM Abbreviation:

RREM: Resoundingly Ridiculous Egregious Management

IMPORTANT NEWS – Change in policy – RREM Path C to Path B: Repeat from the last blog: I don’t know if this is public knowledge yet, but the policy is in effect. When you sign your DBA (Design Build Agreement) at your 5A meeting, you are committed to Path C and cannot change to Path B.

This is a very important note – until now you could sign the DBA and authorize the design scope (soil borings, surveying and engineering) but you were not committed to staying with Path C and could switch. That isn’t the case any longer. You have to decide at or prior to the 5A meeting (which is where the CM (construction manager) meets with your assigned contractor).

If you sign the DBA at your 5A meeting, you are stuck with Path C. Be really careful that you understand what is happening at your 5A meeting – if you are unsure, call me and I will talk you through it.

As always when unsure about anything with RREM, ask for a delay and consult with someone you trust.

New Sunset Beach Model arriving soon in Toms River! For those of you thinking of designing a new home, we’ve recently introduced a new model called the Sunset Beach. A collaboration between our clients Matt & Claudia as well as our long time architect Scott Lepley, the Sunset Beach is a very different house with a distinct island look and feel. This model is being done in about 1800 square feet but can be as small as 1400 and as large as 2500 square feet. Send me an email if you want to check out the new plan. We’ll be starting the house soon on Rt 37 West in Pelican Island so stop by and see us.

RREM “Footprint” Comments: This tip is a new one for me and comes courtesy of another excellent client I am working with in Forked River. Thanks Joanne!

Prior to this point, I understood that if your rebuilding new (reconstruction) the maximum increase in size to your new house was a total of 300 square feet. Now I’ve come to find that the 300 square foot maximum increase applies to the footprint only and not to the total square footage. That makes sense from the standpoint of impervious coverage – anything under 300 square foot increase does not normally trigger the need for a CAFRA or DEP permit and also requires just a minor soils conservation letter of eligibility.

That’s an important distinction and it means you can increase the size of the downstairs up to 300 square feet and still have an equal or slightly smaller upstairs in addition. So you can effectively almost double your square footage, assuming your budget allows.

As a note, I have not definitely confirmed this policy with RREM, but I suspect that it is true. It’s definitely something to consider when planning your new house.

Money Saving Tip #1:  This is a good technique I’ve used recently and is another good option to keep in mind as you are pricing your project. This idea comes to us courtesy of Jeff Barton, who is another good architect we work with in Stafford township – thanks Jeff!

The technique involves using concrete piers on either a continuous concrete footing or over piling caps (if you are building on helical or timber pilings) as opposed to a solid concrete foundation wall from the footing up to the house. Around the pier structure, a 2” x 4” skirt wall is constructed, over which either vinyl or fiber cement siding is installed. This technique necessarily utilizes less concrete block which is a definite savings, but does involve building a 2” x 4” wall and siding costs. You don’t have a solid block wall, but if that isn’t important to you, you can save some money.

The net result can be $5,000 – $10,000 in savings depending on the height of your crawlspace. The higher the crawl/basement, the greater the savings.

Money Saving Tip #2: I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. Though the single most important step to take at the beginning of your project is commissioning a soil boring and geotechnical analysis, you probably don’t need one if you are demolishing your home and installing pilings. In that case, you can drive a test piling to determine the point at which the soils offer the correct compaction (8, 10 or 12 tons normally) and size the pilings accordingly. You save about $2000 avoiding a soil boring. Frankly, as long as your foundation is certified to be solid and able to support your house, does anyone really care about the soil composition under your home every 6” down to 30 feet? I don’t think so.

Elevation – Repeat – Definition: Please remember that elevation refers to “height above sea level” and not the height above your grade at the house or distance the house is being elevated. It’s easy to make a mistake with this and causes much confusion. Example: If you are raising 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.

Elevating your home – Appearance and Exterior Finishes: Repeat – Good information about finishing the lower level of your elevated home – See the last Blog from June 7, 2014.

Repeat – RREM / HMGP tip of the day: Secret – What not to say to your housing advisor when asked about RREM or HMGP: See last week’s blog for more detail.

You Tube Link to the last Nearly Famous Rebuilding Seminar: If you’ve missed our seminars and can’t easily attend, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI69KoM8DRXqoEblHd94xg

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.

Searching the Rebuilding Blog: One of the (few) nice things about WordPress is the Search function. You don’t need to read every blog to find what you want – simply enter a key word and it will take you to blogs where the subject you’re interested in was discussed.

Special Feature for clients from Dream Homes: We take photos of all of our jobs on a regular basis and upload them to Dropbox. We then send a link to each client with their houses folder, so they can see what’s happening each day. Everyone seems to like this – you can feel very connected to the process even if you can’t be there.

Remember – if you have a specific question, send me an email or a text. You don’t need to wait for a seminar or a site visit to clarify a point or two. The same goes for those of you under construction. Whether or not you are Dream Homes/Atlantic Northeast Construction client or not, I will always try and help you or guide you in the right direction.

Reminder: if you’ve sent me email or left a voice mail and have not received a response within a day or so, please try and contact me again. I do miss messages here and there.

Note to Sandsters: Though I began and continue to write this blog to help as many Sandsters as possible, 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 do all of the work that I talk about in the blog. We work with private clients and Path B and C in the RREM program. Call, text or email to set up an appointment for an estimate on your rebuilding project.

That’s all I have tonight Sandsters – hope it helps. As always, call or write with any questions.

Stay well.

Regards,

Vince

Dream Homes Ltd.

Atlantic Northeast Construction LLC

Licensed NJ New Home Builder License# 045894

Licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor License# 13VH07489000

PO Box 627 Forked River, NJ 08731

Office: 609 693 8881 F: 609 693 3802

Cell: 732 300 5619

Email: vince@dreamhomesltd.com

Website: www.dreamhomesltd.com

Blog:http://www.dreamhomesltd.com

Twitter: foxbuilder