More about house raising

For those who follow this blog or new readers there is something that has come to my attention that should be understood by those unfortunate enough to have to raise there house due to to the super storm Sandy of 2012.
What I would discuss here are things needed to be known to more efficiently get the process done without having you and your wife or sigificant other
her get devoted or separate.
As the dust settles after the storm all the so called great thinkers of the state and federal government departments are working feverishly to create new guidelines and laws as part of this process to make a bad situation even worse.
This storm was a 100 year event so as is usually the job of government let’s get everyone’s opinion of what we should do to prevent this from happening possibly for the next 100 years.
I might add that insurance companies caught with there pants down are also to blame for the problems we as qualified contractors are having getting these houses raises efficiently and in a timely fashion.
There are others like myself who try to get projects completed in a timely fashion but around every corner there is a new regulation in the making while your moving toward completion.
Here’s the rub. You have hired a contractor like Split-Rok Construction experienced in the process of raising your home and who fully intending to meet deadlines set but in the background sits the authorities. Those who think they have a crystal ball into the future. They think that over building is the solution to the possible next storm. It’s almost like writing an article in the paper that their will never be another 9-11 God Forbid.
No one can predict future events. Stuff just happens but how strong willed individuals handle it us key.
Please don’t get me wrong I sincerely believe in some regulation and definitely in inspections since there are always a few roaches that slip through the cracks and they need to be quickly recognized and removed from the process.
My full intention of this blog is to address items I have found to cause delays in the process of raising a home prior to actually beginning to raising so you may be better prepared to save your marriage, but if your not stop reading hear or do the direct opposite and make a few more lawyers richer.
Please rest assured that this might not be a complete list of possible scenarios but I feel enough for you as a homeowner to better negotiate this process with fewer problems.
Cost:
Be prepared for cost overruns. Some houses when lifted and inspected can have unseen damage under the home that are sometimes not caught by a trained eye prior to lifting. This can sometimes be avoid by you or a your potential contractor doing a thorough inspection under and above prior to lift. That said that is still no guarantee that there won’t be issues that pop up. This is why I stress vetting out your contractor and having in writing how extras are to be charged back to you. Extras are surprises that are not followed by a smile from either party. They cause sometimes massive delays and if people think guys like me go “Oh Boy” gonna make some extra money here. I speak for myself when I say “oh s..t” gonna be stuck here longer than expected.
We are all running our businesses to make a profit but being stuck on a nightmare job although challenging and potentially rewarding at the end prevents us from moving on to other projects.
Note: Size does matter here. How large a crew does the contractor have and how many men does he have presently. Important since if he has limited help and too many of these projects going on can become a problem since some guys need to move people around in a futile attempt to make all clients happy. As a result your extra might throw a wrench in the works of an already tough project. You need to know that your project will be given priority status. This can be done with a well written contract. Reasonable completion dates stating reasonable excuses for not meeting those deadlines.
This might be beginning to sound difficult but if you continue to read this article I can assure you its worth your time and money.
Costs: Cheaper is not necessarily better. There are countless cases documented in New Jersey alone where someone hired a contractor thinking they were qualified because they had a license to do business in New Jersey only to find out that the actual license really has no weight. Anyone can get a contractors license in New Jersey. It only the government’s way of calling another tax something else. I have sat before the the State Appropriations Committee in Trenton and believe me it Damn scary what goes on there. That’s another article.
Look for Industry certifications. Example: ACI certification. These are people very serious about doing their job correctly. All trades have certifications but the best certification of all is contractors track record. Better Business Bureau can easily be called to check out any black marks against your contractor.
In this case as I think you are seeing you need to be fully engaged in the process. Those I’ve had pleasure of working with raising there homes that keep engaged in the process are best served.
To keep this article short and as simple as possible here are items that slow the process.
1. Poorly designed plans
2. Delayed permits as a result of incomplete  paperwork.
3. Poor scheduling of trades. Have to get firm commitments from contractors. Hire a team. We have a team of subcontractors at Split-Rok Construction that we work exclusively with. When I call the response is in most cases immediate.
4. Utilities being delayed shutting off and turning on. This item can be a real problem since homeowners who are displaced want to get on with there life.
5. Underground items not on plans. Example: Found a foundation from likely 50 years ago below the foundation we removed. Not found until piles were being driven. No way of knowing. Cased a 1 week delay.
6. Change orders or redesign during construction. Think before you lift. Are you just going up and down on a new foundation or are you wanting to add something while raised like underhouse parking. Great extra. Not that costly and functional if allowed by code. Note that changes during construction not only cause delays due to resubmitting plans but costs can increase due to extra time charged by house lifters for use of their equipment.  You generally have 60 days too work on home. You may be charged extra time for use of equipment. This costs more as does extra work after contract signing. We use Devooght House Raisers exclusively for their professionalism and experience. Timely lifts and resets all the time. One hell of a team. Usually raised in one day unless something is in their way.
8. Back to poor plans that you assume have been calculated by the engineer or Architect to work but don’t. Wrong elevations. As a result stairs exterior stars do not end at proper location needing a redesign and approval from town your working in. Can be a nightmare when there are fixed elevations that don’t agree with setbacks.
9. Arguing with inspectors. These people are just doing their job as you are. There are rules in life that in some cases don’t seem to make sense but this one does. It’s as simple as black and white. These people are your eyes. They are people who have had to study what is proper and improper construction practices. Be glad they are there. They assure you that what is to be your home stays standing. Poor construction practices and cutting corners by inexperienced or dishonest contractors is rampant in a disaster enviornment. I was remodling the interior of a home in Point Pleasant Beach and was subbing out window replacements. An out of town contractors price was $10,000 higher then my local guy. They come from out of state and they go and with your money. Good luck trying to get them back to fix a bad water heater for example. Local contractors like us in business for over 30 years have built a reputation. I protect mine at all costs.
I live here. A bad reputation spreads faster then a god one. I sleep well at night when I’m not up planning my next job and coordinating my days work. Most guys like me have built your project 10 times in their head prior to the first shovel going into the ground.
If you love what you do and have been born with and cultivated your skills over time you can’t help but achieve the finest result.

Here at Split-Rok Construction Company established 1985 we have a saying. “The Difficult we Do Right away. The Impossible takes just a bit longer”.

I can always be reached by email at Ted@split-rok.com. or by calling our office at 732-899-5641 if you need guidance with a project or a quote. Love to help people. Like to make a living but being of service to others is at times more important.
Hope I’ve helped in writing this eliminate some fears and given you more confidence to perform what looks like a daunting task. It’s easier then it seems when you know the ropes
http://www.split-rok.com is another way we can be reached.

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Basement Renovations and Man Caves

Today more than ever before a basement is used for more than a place to keep stuff, do wash or keep the water heater for your home.

In this tough economic environment people are not as quick to move to a new home but in some cases have a need to make their home more livable by adding more livable space.

If a  family is one with a lot of kids or a husband of wife who just need a space to decompress after a tough day, the basement can become a refuge for them or a place to have your kids and their friends to hang out. A basement renovation can be the solution to capture more livable space without the hassle and the expense of moving to achieve that goal.

Even if the space is old  there are many things that can be done to turn what might be a non-livable space into another comfortable room or rooms. Concrete floors can be leveled,polished,stained or dyed and even stamped with a Decorative Impression to simulate stone, slate, brick, etc. A bathroom, office or family entertainment room could be added.

There are limitless possibilities of what can be done with a basement if you hire someone who can patiently listen to your ideas and guide you in the right direction to bring your dream to life.

Block walls can be gone over with Decorative Plaster to simulate an old world feel like that of an Old Wine Cellar with hints of stone showing here and there to simulate the look of a plastered stone wall. Cracks can even be added to give it an old look. Floors can be refurbished to look new again using overlays or by grinding and polishing.

PLEASE NOTE: Moisture content in concrete floors in a basement can be a problem but can be easily addressed if the Contractor is familiar with moisture testing methods that need to be used prior to installing any of the above mentioned applications. Please in any case where there is excess moisture present put down carpeting. Moisture gets trapped under the carpet pad and can allow a great environment for toxic mold to grow. This can create a health hazard to your family. Always have a moisture test performed before overlaying or polishing. Area rugs can be used if the moisture problem has been corrected by using a moisture barrier.

Windows that are generally small can be enlarged to add more light into the space to make it feel less like you are in a basement.

A lighting professional can also help in making the space more livable.

Access from the outdoors can also be added using a Bilco Door leading to an entry door that can be locked as you would your front door. This allows access to the basement without coming through the upstairs living area. This is a nice touch if you have a backyard pool or are having a party and want to access a basement bathroom so that guests are not going through the house with wet bathing suits on.

Anyone with a bit of imagination like our designers at Split-Rok Construction can, after meeting with you determine how you would like to use the space. We can then direct you as to how that can happen.

We also have a group of reputable quality centered professionals that can handle any phase of what is needed to achieve this goal. They like us are passionate about what they do and bring years of experience andvision to your project.

Any basement can be turned into more than a catch-all with a little imagination and artistic vision provided that you clearly know what you would like.

Don’t move just improve is our motto.

As Americans we are always improving. We never seem to sit idle. It’s no longer necessary to move to make things better. You can remodel and give your home a whole new feel.

Ted Mechnick (The Concrete Professor) and Owner of Split-Rok Construction

You can contact me at Ted@split-rok.com for any help you might need related to this topic.