- Before the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program can approve funding for a homeowner, the federal government requires that a homeowner’s property undergo an environmental review to ensure there are no potential environmental, historical or archaeological impacts and that construction will meet federal, state and local environmental standards.
- All remaining work completed after the date of a homeowner’s environmental clearance may be considered eligible for RREM funding and must comply with all conditions in the environmental review.
- Costs incurred prior to your date of application to the RREM Program may be eligible for reimbursement.
- An environmental clearance is not a guarantee of a grant award – eligibility verification, a damage estimate and duplication of benefits analysis must be verified prior to determining a grant award.
Timeline for RREM Eligibility
Eligible for Reimbursement
Oct. 29, 2012 to Date RREM Application Was Submitted
- Construction costs incurred before RREM application date are eligible for reimbursement
- Construction on the home must remain within the same footprint of the damaged structure
Date RREM Application Was Submitted to Environmental Clearance Date
- Construction costs incurred in this time period are not eligible for funding
- The RREM Program encourages homeowners to stop work during this period in order to maximize their grant award
Environmental Clearance Date to Project Completion
- Once property receives environmental clearance, remaining construction costs may be eligible for funding
- Construction must comply with environmental review and RREM Program requirements
Applicants to the RREM Program should be aware of the following information to ensure construction done after environmental clearance can be eligible for RREM Program funding.
1) The Environmental Clearance Allows RREM Applicants to Start or Resume Construction
Any construction completed after the date of environmental clearance can be considered for funding through RREM as long as construction costs are reasonable and necessary, the conditions of the environmental review are met, and the work is performed compliant to RREM Program standards.
2) The Environmental Clearance Is Conditional
There are certain conditions that homeowners must comply with to ensure their construction is eligible for funding in the RREM Program. Homeowners should review their environmental clearance to verify the specific conditions that impact their construction. Common conditions that may apply include, but are not limited to:
- Maintaining Pre-Existing Footprint – The structure must not be moved closer to a body of water and the footprint of the structure must not be increased by more than 300 square feet.
- Historic Preservation – Construction that creates an adverse impact on a designated historic property may be conditioned on receiving design approval from the State or local historic preservation office.
- Archaeology – Projects that have an adverse effect on archaeological remains must remain within the existing footprint. In the event that archaeological deposits, including any Native American artifacts, are uncovered, the project will be halted and all work stopped immediately in the vicinity of the discovery.
- Wetlands Protection and Water Quality – Properties located within or near protected wetlands must take necessary precautions to ensure no impact to the surrounding environment (e.g. erosion control, drainage and run-off, etc.). Work in wetlands may require a state wetland permit.
- Hazardous Materials – Activities must comply with State and Federal requirements for management, removal and disposal of hazards materials. This includes: removal and disposal of asbestos, proper anchoring or removal of above ground storage tanks, and proper removal and clean-up of underground storage tanks.
3) Reviewing the Results of Your Environmental Clearance
Homeowners are required to meet with their RREM Project Manager to review the results of their environmental review once they have signed a grant award (see the RREM Step-by-Step for information on the RREM process). If a homeowner wishes to obtain a copy of their environmental review prior to this meeting, they may call 1-855-SANDYHM (726-3946).
4) After Environmental Clearance, Construction Must Meet RREM Program Requirements
The federal government requires certain standards must be met for remaining construction work to be considered eligible for RREM funding (see the Mandatory Contractor Addendum to execute with your General Contractor which captures all the requirements that must be met for remaining construction to be considered eligible for RREM funding). Common requirements that may apply include, but are not limited to:
- Lead-Based Paint – Homeowners repairing or rehabilitating a home built prior to 1978 must ensure proper lead hazard reduction measures are followed using a State-Certified Lead Abatement Contractor, and complete a lead clearance test upon completion of reducing lead hazards in the home. The RREM Program will pay for a Lead Risk Assessment to be performed on the property to identify potential lead paint hazards.
- Green Building Standards – Construction is required to meet specific energy efficiency standards. For new construction, properties must be built to meet ENERGY STAR standards and for rehabilitation of existing homes, construction must comply with the HUD Green Building Retrofit Checklist.
- Elevation Standards (if required) – Substantially damaged homes are required to elevate to at least one foot above (or consistent with local code if more stringent) the highest applicable 100-year flood level.
- Contractor Validation – Homeowners must use contractors that are properly licensed in the State of New Jersey for the type of work they are performing and not be listed on the Federal or State debarment lists. The Program will validate homeowner-selected contractors prior to payment of funds.