118 W 68th Street, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
7700 Central, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
28 30th Street, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
4460 Venicean Road, North, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
Value Differentiation between Old, Newer, and New Construction for Condo/Townhouses
As of today, April 22, 2014, there are 55 condo/townhouses that are pending due to close escrow this year. 20 of those 50 condos are new construction. There is a higher demand for new construction for those who realize the better value they are getting as well as a maintenance free home that is up to date in floor plan, materials, finishes, etc.. Here is a list of factors that contribute to a higher value:
- Elevation. As mentioned previously in this blog, the elevation will comply with F.E.M.A. regulations. Older homes may comply as well but over the last few years building codes have changed so it is on a case by case basis. All crawl space is to be made and finished with flood proof materials. No finished living area may exist in the crawl space. For this, crawl space is defined as the space or area beneath the base flood elevation.
- Size. The average lot in Sea Isle City is 50 feet by 110 feet. I will use this size to demonstrate how new construction in Sea Isle City in the last few years have been allowed to have an increased amount of living space from previous years. Under the old code, multiply the total lot size of 5,500 square feet (50 x 110 lot) by .70 (percentage allowable living space) which equals 3,850 total allowable living space or 1,925 square feet per unit. The maximum living space was 70%.
The old code also limited maximum heights to be 30 feet from base flood elevation plus one (1) foot Sea Isle City designated freeboard, as explained earlier, in an A Zone. That was replaced with an increased maximum height of 32 ft. above base flood elevation plus (one) 1 foot Sea Isle City designated freeboard for pitched roofs in an A Zone. New constructions built in the last 3 years are two (2) feet higher than all other condo/townhouse style homes in Sea Isle City.
Increased residential building heights changed the formula for calculating maximum allowable living space to the following: 5,500 (total square feet of lot size 50 by 110) multiplied by .35 (1,925 sq. ft.) multiplied by three (3) which equals 5,775 sq. ft. minus (2) garages totaling 800 sq. ft. which equals (4,975) and divide by two (2) for a side by side which equals 2,487.50 sq. Feet per unit of living space. This is 562.5 feet larger than the units prior to amending the building codes in a typical side by side condo townhouse. In essence what this did was allow the grade level “bonus room” to be above base flood elevation and now be insurable for flood insurance.
- Insulation, Air Flow and Ventilation. For years, small single family bungalows with baseboard heat and asbestos siding were what you would see and if lucky, rent for a couple of weeks in July or August. The musty smell in the unfinished attics and knotty pine was something I liked because that was what the shore smelled and looked like. The best two weeks of the whole year. But, every year my eyes would itch so badly, they blistered. No doubt, I was allergic to the mold and/or mildew smell I was fond of. Many older homes have a musty odor even though they are newer models than the old bungalows. Building materials and building construction has improved gradually but dramatically over the years. They are air tight where they should be with proper ventilation and air flow through out. Bi-level heating and air conditioning systems help keep the climate cool and dry. A good builder will insulate the all interior walls, including closets. Vinyl windows do not fall apart like wood sills do from the salt air, not to mention how easy they are to clean.
- Finishes. Hardwood floors, granite counter tops, tiled bathroom showers, glass shower doors, beautiful soft close drawers and maple cabinetry, wainscoting, crown molding, colonial baseboard trim, window trim, stainless steel appliances, gas fireplaces, elevators, cedar impression siding, stone veneers, masonry pavers, 6 foot vinyl privacy fences, fiberglass decks, covered decks, remote control HVAC, intercoms, surround sound and instant hot water are just some of the standard features in any good builders specification list. If you purchase a home pre-construction, you can personalize it by choosing your own interior and exterior finish selections and appliances.
- Maintenance Free. The exteriors of good new construction will simply need a good power washing every two years or yearly if you are particular. The fiberglass decks may need a recoating of the gel finish if a property is rented and heavily used but other than that, very little needs to be done. Pex water delivery systems are tubes that expand 5 times their size if water freezes so draining pipes and turning water off is not necessary. Each faucet has its own hot or cold water Pex pipe to the manifold where it can be individually controlled. Turn the heat up from home before heading down to the shore instead of freezing in a house that’s been closed up and cold. Winterizing a home is no longer necessary.
- Builder’s Warranty. Every developer is mandated by the State of New Jersey to supply a buyer with a 10 year builder’s warranty. The structure of the house is warranted for the full ten years. Other systems are warranted on a graduated schedule.
Major considerations when choosing a property to buy at the shore.
Is a property compliant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) regulations? FEMA collects data, prepares maps, etc. and determines what flood zone a property is in which determines what kind of construction is required. This all has to do with a property’s base flood elevation (BFE). This may be the most important factor when buying property in a flood zone because it will affect the cost of flood insurance. A lot has happened in the last two years because of Hurricane Sandy and legislation regulating flood insurance. When buying a second home which, for most people, is the biggest investment they are going to make in their lives, it is important to make sure your house complies with FEMA regulations. If you plan to borrow money from a bank or mortgage company to purchase a property in a flood zone, lenders will require flood insurance. I will attempt to explain as simply as possible how all this works.
In all flood zone areas, it is required that there is no living space below a property’s BFE plus freeboard. Freeboard is height added on by county and local governments to keep flood insurance ratings good. For example, if the BFE of a property in Sea Isle City is 9 ft., and you will need to add 2 feet freeboard, the first floor (which means the top of the floor system) needs to be at least 11 ft. from the mean low water line (BFE + 2 ft. freeboard). (There is a little more to it, but this is close enough for now.) New construction that builds according to current local ordinances and codes complies with this requirement. It is not to say that a home built 10 or 20 years ago does not comply. Each property needs to be looked at individually because BFEs vary and local building codes have changed over the years.
To find your BFE, click on this FEMA page link and follow the directions. There is a wealth of information on this site that is helpful, that is if your eyes don’t glaze over before 10 minutes is up.
Also known as “flood vents” Anything below the first floor of a structure is considered crawl space which is defined as “that area of the structure below base flood not used for parking. “City of Sea Isle City Code 14-5.6 entitled “Enclosure Openings.” This is a technical issue having to do with equalizing hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing the entry and exit of flood waters. (You are own your own to find out exactly what that is.) What you do need to know is that a house has the proper amount of flood vents. Re sale homes will be inspected before transfer of title and a Certificate of Floodplain Venting Compliance will need to be issued in order to transfer title. New construction will comply with the flood venting requirements.
Choose a good builder
Most people think that hurricanes are the thing to watch for but Nor’easter’s can be just as powerful and destructive along the Jersey shore. Just think how these storms constantly change the shore line. Nor-Easters can last for days and cause damage to structures especially over time. So, it is important to know that your house is structurally sound. You want to know that whoever builds your home strictly adheres to building codes. 5A construction means a building can withstand 115 M.P.H. winds. You want to make sure that requirement is followed to the “T.” You don’t want a builder that takes short cuts and compromises the structural benefits of your home. Short cuts and using subgrade materials keeps the builder’s costs down and makes the developer’s profits larger at the expense of compromised structural integrity. This cheapens a property’s value over time but that is another matter in itself and will be addressed later in this blog.
These steel straps connect a home’s foundation to the frame, the frame to the floor, frame to the roof and everything in between. It is important to know that the proper kind of straps are being used and not a cheaper substitute. The Weather Channel had a great demonstration of this by constructing two separate houses in a huge room and caused hurricane force winds to happen. The house with the straps stayed together while the house without the straps practically caved in. If anyone knows what I am talking about and can find it, (I tried to find it but couldn’t) please let me know.
Another important structural element is sheathing. OSB (oriented strand board) is a composite that many builders use for sheathing. Not only does OSB expand when wet (which can happen during construction) but more importantly OSB does not grab the nails that are nailed into it when attaching exterior finishes such as siding. The better sheathing material is plywood. Plywood acts like a Chinese finger when a nail is driven through it. It grabs the nail so the nail is not easily loosened or pulled out whereas OSB allows the nail to pull or slide right when challenged like during a Nor’easter or Hurricane. Whatever was attached to the OSB is no longer attached or at the minimum loosened and detaches over time.