Monthly Archives: March 2019

Easy Bathroom Home Improvement

Ever want to make some over all decorative changes in your home. Are you tired of looking at the same look day after day, but don’t feel like you have the knack for coming up with a new look. There are some simple things you can do to make a bathroom home improvement. Have you ever gone to some one else’s home and admired something they did and thought, gosh I could do that, or even thought, I could never do that. With just a little bit of desire, you can not only come up with some good ideas, but you can do them yourself as well. This article will show you how easy bathroom home improvement is, and you can do it for less than twenty five dollars.

Since we spend quite a bit of our time in the bathroom, it is important to make that room look not only clean and sanitary, but appealing as well. A bathroom home improvement doesn’t have to require replacing big items such as a new sink, or tub. When we think of a home improvement, we get the picture of remodeling or building, but it can be something very simple like, replacing a mirror on the wall. If it makes the room look better, it is a home improvement. Maybe the mirror in your bathroom is looking old, or you are just tired of it’s size or shape. You can go shopping at any second hand store, or garage sale, and pick up a mirror that you love, for under twenty five dollars. Your bathroom home improvement won’t have cost very much, but the new look will make a huge difference.

Another bathroom home improvement that doesn’t cost much, is to change the color of the room. You can buy paint at discount stores now, and buy it in any color you would like. The truth is, there are so many colors to choose from, you will probably have a hard time deciding which color to choose. Most all places that sell paint, have small color samples that you can take with you, so you can actually place them up on the wall, to kind of see what it will look like. I recommend you doing this too, before you begin this bathroom home improvement. Colors often look different under the store lights than they do in your actual home.

If you don’t second hand shop, you should try it, because it can be a lot of fun. You might find some real treasures for a bathroom home improvement, that won’t cost you much at all. You might want to begin looking for new handles for the cupboards, or you might even find new faucet handles that look new, and would be beautiful in your bathroom. If you shop around, you can find that a bathroom home improvement can be done for less than twenty five dollars because what you are after is a new look. Just replacing your shower curtain, rod, and matching a towel set could be considered a bathroom home improvement. How easy is that.

Claiming a Home Improvement

The approach of spring often encourages homeowners to start considering home improvements and repairs. However, before you start getting out the hammer and nails or hiring a contractor consider if your house improvements may be eligible for a home improvement tax deduction.

The first thing the homeowner must understand is the difference between a home improvement and a home repair. Simply put, a home repair is classified as fixing a problem. For example, repairing a hole in the roof, fixing a leak or repainting a room would be considered repairs. On the other hand, remodeling a kitchen, adding a couple of rooms, building a garage or installing a swimming pool would be classed as improvements. These improvements add to the living amenity of the home’s owners and usually add value to the home.

The Internal Revenue Service sets out strict guidelines on how a homeowner can claim a tax deduction for home improvements. It is strongly recommended that before you hire a contractor or start any improvement works that you obtain advice from you tax consultant or from the local office of the IRS.

Tax deductions can fall into any of several different categories. A medical condition that required providing disabled access to home would normally be classed as a home improvement.

There is a special tax deduction for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Consult with the IRS regarding the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act as it increases the permitted qualifying house improvement loans.

If you are planning improvements to an area of your home that is in need of repair you may be able to include the repair as an improvement. The Tax Act states that where a repair is carried out in the same area of the home that is being remodeled then the repair can be included as part of the remodeling project. So, if you are planning on remodeling your kitchen don’t forget to take care of the leaking pipes at the same time and claim the entire project as a deduction.

Tax Credits vs Tax Deduction

Tax credits can also provide significant savings to the homeowner. Whilst a tax deduction for home improvements can reduce the amount of income on which tax is payable, a tax credit directly reduces the tax itself. Tax credits are available for many types of home improvements. For example, installing insulation, adding energy-efficient windows, and some types of highly efficient equipment for cooling and heating, and solar water heating may all qualify for tax credits.

The IRS has many helpful publications to assist homeowners who are about to embark on house improvements so a visit to their website or calling into a branch office will usually provide the homeowner with a wealth of information.

And when you begin your construction remember to maintain accurate records of spending and save all receipts… this will assist you enormously when the time comes to claim your home improvement tax deduction.

The New Rules of Home Improvement

Many homeowners are beginning to recognize the higher standards that are being demanded from home improvement contractors.The new rules of certification, accreditation and independent verification have complemented well the old ways of selecting a contractor so that the two establish a benchmark that bodes well for the professional perception of the industry. It is not a coincident that in 2010 credentialing and training organizations have achieved their highest growth rate in recent years.

I believe that a profound shift is taken place in the home improvement industry. This shift has embraced certification, accreditation and independent verification as the new rules of doing business. As a contractor who has been in the business for many years, for me, this shift means one thing – a chance to increase market share by showcasing a brand that understands and welcomes the new reality. Indeed, homeowners are beginning to demand this higher standard of training and perceived credibility to measure value. And, the surest way to achieve this is by checking for the credential of companies and the skill of their people. Now, besides the old ways of relying chiefly on word-of-mouth recommendation, customers will be able to more independently check for and measure the training and professional underpinning of a company. This is quite a significant development in the home improvement business brought on by dramatic emphasis on energy efficiency improvements in building.

The Federal government and large utility companies have contributed to this by providing tax credits and purchase rebates respectively for energy efficiency improvement initiatives. States have seized on these opportunities and have enacted changes to their building codes to encourage higher efficiency standards in building. The State of Massachusetts for example, has adopted the ‘Stretch Energy Code'” which its cities and towns are using to promote energy efficiency improvement to their building stock. The execution of these strategies create jobs, save money on utility bills and decrease the Carbon output to the environment from buildings. The savviest of small home improvement contractors are using these new rules to improve their companies’ image to portray a well trained professional operation. The majority of the buildings in the nation are in need of some sort of energy efficiency improvement, if we are committed to improving our building stock then the adoption of these new rules are just the start of the revolutionizing of the home improvement industry.

To be clear, the changes that are taking root are a result of the budding Home Performance Improvement industry that is taking shape and which is buttress by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), a national credentialing and training organization. Indeed, I believe two things, one, this is setting a new benchmark for the professional assessing of the home remodeling industry. Two, brand recognition will be an important criteria in selecting a home improvement company. The companies that recognize this and make the necessary positioning adjustment will be the winners.

All in all, these new rules that are required to operate a professional home performance improvement entity will no doubt usher in a change in the way the home remodeling industry operates generally.

Home Improvement And Repair Projects

The popularity of HGTV (Home & Garden Television) has created a
thriving market in do-it-yourself home improvement and interior
decorating. All sectors of the home improvement industry have
benefited since HGTV started airing in 1975.

The real estate boom was followed by a home improvement boom.
People would buy a old house and want to redecorate the house
from floor to ceiling. People who had lived in their houses for
a while wanted new kitchen cabinets. The home improvement shows
were an impetus for a massive movement by homeowners to start a
remodeling revolution

The home improvements that people take on include makeovers from
the attic to the basement. They perform functional repairs like
fixing a leaky roof, replacing windows, and adding more room to the
house. Then there are the projects that are just for the
beautification of the home like updating kitchen, remodeling a
master bedroom.

Some people use home improvement as a creative outlet. They paint
and redesign just for the satisfaction of improving their living
space. HGTV has been a large contributor to the home improvement
revival.

HGTV reaches 89 million households every week and over 800,000
nightly prime time viewers. The format of the show has been copied
several times and spin offs like Trading
Spaces, Extreme Makeovers. Viewers sit for hours watching
“Design on a Dime” “Devine Design”, “Landscapers Challenge”.
The home improvement shows just keep coming.

HGTV provides instructions for thousands of home improvement projects.
They provide video clips for everything from garden projects to
constructing a bed. HGTV is the one-stop resource for finding anything
you need for expert help with “doing it yourself” projects.

HGTV makes home improvement look easy and fun. HGTV gives viewers
new ideas and inspires the week end warrior to do some type of home
improvement project. HGTV mission is “to provide ideas, information,
and inspiration for decorating and home improvement”.

The impact that HGTV has on home improvement can be measured in these
statistics.

  • Furniture sales grew by 75%, between Between 1995-2005

  • Sales of home furnishings increased 97% in this same period.

These items included soft goods as well, carpets, lamps, area rugs,
linens, glassware

People all over the country are decorating their homes to look like
these superbly beautiful fantasy creations that they view on HGTV.
If you are not a “do it yourselfer” you can just imagine the way your

home might look when you go on tours of million dollar home all
across the country. You see people who look like you making grand
improvements to shacks that end up looking like your dream home.

HGTV has had a dramatic impact on the home improvement industry
because HGTV appeals to the age group of people who have the money
to pay for major home improvement projects. The demographics of the
typical HGTV is a female age 35-64 years old. Over 70% of HGTV
viewers are females.
That means that the female viewers are encouraging husband, fathers,
brother to do the work so they can enjoy the benefits.
The additional general consumer demographics for home improvement by
female indicate:

  • They shop more often

  • Visit more stores

  • Spend more than the typical shopper

The target demographic for the Do It Yourself Website is:

  • Homeowners

  • Ages 25-54

  • Incomes of $60,000

  • Internet access

  • Propensity for home improvement

The home Improvement Research Institute studies show that both men
and women are active participants in the planning of home improvement
projects as well as the purchase of those products used for
improvement.

Easy Home Improvement Projects

Would you like to live in a new home? A home improvement project can be an easy way to change the look and increase the appeal of your home, make it feel like new. Below are five very easy ways to improve your home and increase the value at the same time. Home improvement projects do not have to take a lot of time or money to make your home look better.

Easy Home Improvement Project – Kitchen

Paint the kitchen cabinets. An easy kitchen home improvement project that most anyone can do is to repaint the cabinets. A dull, lifeless kitchen can easily be brought back to life by a new coat of paint on the cabinets. Select a bright, crisp color and a new coat of paint on the cabinets will change the look of the kitchen. It will look clean and fresh. With the sharpness of the new paint, the kitchen will appear and feel larger. A light, bright color seems to expand the feel of the room.

For a finishing touch that will complete the cabinets in your kitchen home improvement project change the hardware. Cabinet hardware can become dull and worn over a long life of use. Changing the knobs and handles will drastically change the appearance of the cabinets and give the kitchen a newly remodeled look.

Easy Home Improvement Project – Flooring

Replace carpet flooring. Old, worn carpet is thin, hard and makes a home look dirty and dungy. Replace old carpet with new in your next home improvement project. New carpet adds a soft touch. It looks good and insulates to some extent. If you have a limited budget, purchase good carpet padding and an inexpensive carpet. The result will be a thick expensive feel.

Easy Home Improvement Project – New Faucets

Change the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Old faucets dull and wear with age. Replacing faucets will give the sink a fresh new appearance.

This home improvement project is much simpler that it may sound. You can hire a plumber to install new faucets or you can do it yourself. Nice faucets can be purchased at your local hardware store, along with proper plumbing supplies that are quite easy to install.

Easy Home Improvement Project – Painting

Paint the exterior and the interior of your home. A fresh coat of paint is a simple home improvement project that will give your home a new clean look. The exterior appeal will look inviting to visitors and the fresh new interior will make them glad they entered. This is a relatively inexpensive, simple home improvement project that you can hire done or you can do it yourself.

Easy Home Improvement Project – Driveway

A very easy home improvement project that will add a new look to the exterior of your home is to pressure wash the concrete driveway. Over the course of a short season, a concrete driveway will get dirty and grungy. Simply rent a pressure washer and wash the driveway. The process is not hard but it is a slow process. The result will be worth the time. The concrete will look like it has been recently placed.

So there it is – five easy home improvement projects that will make your home feel like new. If you want to improve the appeal and add value to your home, try one or more of these home improvement projects.

The Home Improvement Nightmare

Unless you live in a remote part of the country with no television, newspaper or other people to talk to, there is a good chance you have heard or read about a home improvement scam or project gone wrong. It seems to be a fact in this country that when you go about doing a home improvement project you will usually encounter countless problems, delays and shoddy work.

The home improvement experience leaves most people stressed and vowing never to do another project again! So it is not surprising to hear that home improvement complaints rank at the top of consumer complaints nationwide year after year. Where does the blame fall for this epidemic of home improvement problems?

I am proud to say I was a home improvement contractor for almost 30 years and I was fortunate enough to win some of the industry’s highest awards. However, it has never ceased to amaze me the poor home improvement decisions that I have seen so many homeowners make. One of the more notable mistakes I would see done over and over again was when a homeowner would blindly hire someone to do a project because the person was a friend or a friend of a friend. To me this reasoning makes no sense.

Friendship and craftsmanship are not related, but for some reason a lot of people believe other wise. Another great example of homeowner apathy is hiring someone to do a project without ever putting anything in writing. Who in their right mind would ever agree to such a disastrous situation? Another very similar blunder would be for a homeowner to blindly accept an estimate on the back of a business card. Usually the only information that has room on the back of a business card is the PRICE.

A major mistake made by many people doing a home improvement project is letting price dictate the decision on who to hire. More problems occur because homeowners pick the lowest price they can find. Why? It is very simple. You can only produce a high quality project at a certain cost. High quality materials, expert labor, appropriate insurances and a reasonable profit to stay in business, cost a certain amount of money.

If someone can do that same project under that amount, what do you think is going to happen when the job is being done? That’s right, the person or company is going to do anything they can to try and make a profit. All of the possibilities that could result from the person you hired, as the low bidder, trying to make a profit, are simply all BAD for the homeowner. In home improvements you get exactly what you pay for.

Let’s not forget to put some of the blame on people looking to work on your home. Over the years I have seen some of my competitors commit heinous business practices. (Surprise!!) I have seen contractors switch materials to lesser quality without customer approval, use unqualified labor, overcharge homeowners for “unforeseen problems”, try to up sell the customer once the project starts, etc.,etc.,etc…….it makes you wonder if you can trust anyone?

So where does the blame fall for all the home improvement complaints year after year? I guess it would be easy to blame the homeowner for not educating themselves on what to do when attempting a project. However the next question would be where does a homeowner get “educated”? Maybe a better question would be when does a homeowner find the time to get “educated”? Education is a great tool if you have the time to do the research. Most people don’t have the time or want to take the time to do hours and hours of research on how to go about getting a home improvement done correctly.

Oops I almost forgot Uncle Sam. A lot of people, including myself, think the government makes it too easy for someone, who has no ethics or skills, to do home improvement work. Why are there still some states that do not have licensing for people doing home improvements? And in the states that do have licensing, why are some of these states issuing licenses without the applicant needing to demonstrate any type of competence in home improvement work? This is like giving out a driver’s license without taking a road test. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

One last situation to blame, one that I would never forgive myself for not mentioning. Home improvement television shows have become the latest fad in television. You can hardly change television channels without a home improvement program popping up. The influx of home improvement shows on television has been phenomenal. However, most of these shows tend to unrealistically glorify the home improvement project as being easy to do with nothing ever going wrong. The last time I looked, nothing ever goes perfect, including home improvement projects. Little, if any information is mentioned on these shows, about how not to be “taken to the cleaners” when doing a project.

One would have to conclude that there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the problems homeowners face when attempting a home improvement project. Unfortunately, most of these problems have been around for many years and if you are expecting a “quick fix”, I think you might be waiting a very long time.

Since I retired from the home improvement industry two (2) years ago I decided it was time to stop worrying about who or what to blame about the constant wave of home improvement complaints (it really seems to be a waste of energy since nothing seems to change) and to put together a way for homeowners to fight back and get the home improvement results that they deserve.

Do It Yourself Home Improvement

Home improvement is one of those terms that covers just about anything. Do it yourself home improvement is the process of renovating, remodeling or making additions to one’s home without the use of a contractor. Do it yourself improvements are often performed to raise the asking price of a house before it is sold. Home remodeling can be a costly affair that necessitates some type of financing, however, do it yourself house improvement can often be achieved quite inexpensively.

Remodeling

Do it yourself improvements can include remodeling of a room, a garden or an entire house. A remodeling project, regardless of the size, requires planning and some major decisions so if you’re not up to d-i-y structural remodeling, consider a smaller project such as building a flowerbed out of railroad ties or stacked flagstones. Another easy remodeling project could be to build a garden pond. These small improvements can make a huge visual impact and improve the overall amenity and living space in your garden.

Do It Yourself Kitchen Renovations

A thoughtfully planned, well decorated kitchen is a sound investment in your home. Obviously, kitchen remodeling can be a major renovation project, however there are many do-it-yourself improvements that can be done in the kitchen. Do-it-yourself kitchen remodeling can encompass kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances. Upgrading cabinets, fixtures, and sinks in the kitchen can be daunting but can often be tackled by the home handyman, with a bit of expert advice. And, remember, kitchen (and bathroom) remodeling usually brings greater returns than modifying or adding leisure amenities.

Projects

Often a simple remodeling project can make an ordinary room beautiful. Do it yourself home improvement projects can be as simple as a small repair or repainting a room. Another small, or inexpensive project can be replacing the linoleum or carpet. Generally people categorize home improvement projects by the area where the improvement is located. Remember many projects require a permit from local planning authority. You may need to advise your home insurance company know about your renovations.

Flooring

Home improvements can cover adding new flooring such as carpets, tiling, linoleum, wood flooring, or solid hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring is a popular option as a do it yourself home improvement as it is durable, cost effective and easy to install. Vinyl or ceramic tile flooring can cost from $10 dollars to $40 dollars per square yard. Vinyl laminate flooring is ideal for a small budget home improvement job.

Loan

A small do-it-yourself house improvement plan usually does not require financing, however, larger projects often necessitate additional financing, or a house improvement loan. Refinancing refers to paying off the old loans and taking out a new mortgage on your home. The cost of obtaining unsecured loans is comparatively lower than secured loans and an unsecured loan is often advised for small home improvement projects with expenditures of less than $10,000. Secured home improvement loans are usually secured against your home.

Work to a Plan

Remember the old adage, “if you fail to plan you’re planning to fail”? Well, it applies to do it yourself home improvements as much as any other area of life. So take the time to draw up plans and a timetable to achieve your goals. If you find that you need to engage a contractor for any of the remodeling work review the plans and specifications prior to signing any contract. Get formal bids from a short list of three contractors on the same plans and specifications.

Do-it-yourself house improvement is more than just a new coat of paint and can have long term benefits for you and your family. Home improvements are a real investment, producing both a better house in which to live and an increase in the potential resale and value of your home.

Home Improvement Financing

Finding the best services from home improvement financing networks can be a daunting task. Every homeowner would want to take a form of financing that is free or no obligation, no initial credit check, and lesser money worries.

Before starting your home improvement project, make sure, first that you have enough budget to cover the costs by requesting help from home improvement financing programs. There are home improvement financing sites online that may offer the best and affordable service you need.

They might also offer products and services that will help the achievement of a successful project. Rates are at record lows; customers are given a variety of choices in order to finance their improvement project. Home improvement finance will tailor your financing according to your needs. With the following financing options offered:

· Unsecured loans

· Home equity loans

· New first mortgages

· Debt consolidation loans

Home improvement projects generally require flexibility of time and money. There are many home improvement financing companies that can help for your remodeling. The home improvement financing resources has experience with several financing options that have resulted in below-market rate financing tailored to address the needs of sponsoring agencies and target borrowers. Here are Housing Finance Agency Programs to help you with your projects:

Great Minnesota Fix-up Fund (Home Improvement Loan)

· The Great Minnesota Fix-up Fund is a state-wide program that offers loans below market interest rates to homeowners. Fix-up fund was established to improve the basic energy efficiency of the borrower’s home

Home Energy Loan Program

· The Home Energy Loan is also a state-wide program that offers low interest loans to homeowners that want to make energy improvements to their properties.

Community Fix-up Fund

· The Community Fix-up Fund is an expansion of the Great Minnesota Fix-up Fund which offers much higher income limits to homeowners based upon the geographic location of their property.

Home Improvement Financing is a great benefit to customers for a number of reasons.

· Low interest rate financing

· You can complete your project with a local contractor or do it yourself

· Quick and simple loan approval

· Loans available to $50,000+

Among the financing options that were mentioned above; the Home Equity Line of credit is the best program when considering a home improvement project. In this form of financing you will have the credit you need when the need arises and you will make no monthly payments until you draw on it.

A Home Equity Line of Credit is a line of credit that can be used as you need it up to your available credit line. You can use any portion of it at any time and pay it back at any time.

Compared to home equity loans, home equity line of credit’s ideal usage are as follows:

Ongoing Expenses:

– Home improvements

– Medical expenses

– Small business expenses

The interest rate is available and is tied to the prime rate. Its interest may be tax-deductible. It is probably a good choice to acquire the Home Equity Line for Credit if you potentially have multiple needs and if you prefer flexible payment options that have room to adjust.

Home improvement financing is a national loan network that helps homeowners who need financing for home improvement projects. This form of networks can facilitate an easier processing of the approval for your home improvement financing.

If you are anxious about getting your home project done in time, you can avail help from the home improvement financing networks in just a few clicks in the Internet.

How a Simple Home Improvement Guide

Little changes in life can mean so many things. The same applies in home remodeling; such little changes can give your home a new and improved look. It can also enhance the living environment inside it. A simple home improvement guide can do great things for better living.

An effective home improvement guide must tackle important issues on building projects that alters and improve existing homes. These projects can be improvements to various areas like lawns, outdoor structures, gardens, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, attics, and so many more. Some examples of home improvement issues are the following:

1. Budget – These days, budgets will always come first, and will heavily influence the planning and other decision-making processes. Most of the time, we all need to come up with an economically sound budget before we can proceed with our home improvement activities. A home improvement guide will tell you to take your time and jot down each and everything that you will need for this undertaking, especially with the materials needed. Once written down, you can shop around and compare prices. Choose those that present you an opportunity to play with your budget.

2. Design and Planning – Now that you already have your budget, you can now start planning how your ideas and designs will be implemented, considering that everything revolves around your set budget. Venturing away from this can cost you more, and this will prove impractical along the way. If you want to get the best of the designs and the planning you pour through it, you can start by reflecting it on your mood. This will give you a sense of direction that will always lead to satisfaction.

3. Comfort – It can never be successful if comfort is not part of the plan. We renovate or remodel our homes simply because we want more comfort in it. Comfort can be defined by so many things; like upgrading the homes’ heating, ventilations, and air-conditioning systems. A modified plumbing and electrical systems is also very important. Such systems are the workhorses inside homes that when functioning well, can do so many things to support other areas. Waterproofing basements can make it a livable extension inside the house.

4. Maintenance and repair – You may have fancy and well-planned home improvement designs, but all these are for nothing if your precious home will be plagued with pesky maintenance problems or unfinished repairs. A real home improvement is one that includes maintenance projects for the complete package. Such projects can include replacement of roof tear-offs, concrete and masonry repairs surrounding the foundations or chimneys.

The Need for National Guidelines and Testing in the Home Improvement

It is time for Washington to step up and put legislation in place that will force states to better regulate the home improvement industry. Up to now Washington has left the regulation of the home improvement industry up to state regulators, and for whatever reason(s) many states have fallen considerably short.

There are still some states that do not even have contractor licensing in place for home improvements. For some of the states that do have licensing, the license requirements do not include that the applicant demonstrate the ability to do any type of home improvement work. (That is like saying I will issue you a license to cut hair but you don’t have to demonstrate that you know how to cut hair……… ouch!) Then why do states bother issuing licenses if there are no requirements to demonstrate competence? Revenue? Or could it be that they need more consumer complaints for Consumer Affairs and BBB to handle? The unfortunate consequences of this problem are that homeowners are the ones who are paying the price by receiving poor workmanship and a cascade of home improvement problems.

Let’s be honest, the home improvement industry does not seem to attract the most reliable, honest and competent individuals. The lure of a quick buck and the relative ease to “qualify” to do home improvement work, brings many a “character” to your door. When I was a contractor I needed to hire people for a variety of field positions. Most of the people, who I interviewed and sometimes hired, seemed to have the same type of problems with past employers. These problems consisted of substance abuse issues, honesty issues, and reliability issues. The labor pool never seemed to have an over abundance of talent and employability to pick from.

I remember always reading article after article that dealt with the significant manpower shortage in the home improvement industry. The bottom line of each article would always be the same, “If you can find an honest, reliable and competent person to work for you, pull out all the stops to keep them!!!! Do whatever you need to do to keep that person happy because you’ll never know if you will be lucky enough to find someone to take their place.” As an owner, it was a very constant and stressful problem to deal with. You were almost afraid to try and increase project production because you knew you would have to try and find someone to do the additional work. Finding employees was always an adventure, an adventure that I never looked forward to.

For the last 10-15 years the number one problem in the home improvement industry is the lack of manpower. Many contractors are training and hiring minorities to try and solve this major problem.

If you were to talk to your state authorities about what is being done to improve regulations and screening in the home improvement industry, they will probably tell you something is in the works or there is no money for more regulations (testing). I have been hearing this for 30 years. The county in which I live (Suffolk County, New York) still does not require any demonstration of home improvement ability to obtain a home improvement license. The fee has consistently gone up but the requirements have pretty much stayed the same. We are one of the highest taxed counties in the country, so I refuse to believe there is no money to develop and implement a better policing and screening process in the home improvement industry.

The National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) http://www.nari.org is the only national organization that offers certification of home improvement individuals. They have a number of different certifications that one could obtain. To obtain these certifications the applicant needs to demonstrate a variety of knowledge, ranging from good business practices to project knowledge. NARI’s main certification is called – Certified Remodeler (CR). This certification requires the applicant to prepare an extensive matrix or resume of their experience and knowledge as well as obtaining a certain score on an 8-hour exam. There are only approximately 1000 CR’s, out of the hundreds of thousands of home improvement contractors in this country. I earned this certification in 1994 and still proudly hold this certification today. I will admit that obtaining this certification is a time consuming process and does take considerable effort, but it was well worth it. What I also like about this certification is that it has to be renewed every year by demonstrating continued involvement and knowledge in the home improvement industry.

Why then couldn’t Washington mandate some type of screening, nationwide, that all people interested in doing home improvements must be able to “pass” to obtain a license? This license could be used nationwide. Use a screening process that emulates what NARI does for its certifications. You could make the screening as simple as a comprehensive test with multiple choice questions. A test that could be machine scored.

I think an ideal situation for licensing would be to divide up home improvement licensing into sub-licenses. For example, if you were a bathroom contractor you would obtain a license for bathroom home improvements only. This would refine what licensees are qualified to do, rather then issuing one license that could wrongly give the impression that the licensee is capable of doing any type of project.

The reason I think Washington needs to get involved with this problem is because the American public doesn’t have the time to wait for each of the 50 states to come up with a similar solution, individually.

However, if Washington were to step up and mandate a national screening and testing situation, you would still have to address the screening of the people who show up to work on your house. (if they were not the person(s) who was screened and licensed) These people would hopefully be employees of the person who was screened. Is the homeowner then back to square one with not knowing the qualifications of the people working on their house? I tend to think not, because the person who went through the screening and obtained the license would want to keep the license. It is in the best interest of the licensed individual to make sure the project is done correctly. Problems develop when a contractor has too much work and attempts to get it all done by using inexperienced and unqualified help. The lure of completing more work and making more money sometimes leads to his or her business getting “out of control”. This subsequently leads to quality and project completion problems. Employees of licensed and screened contractors need to “qualify” on some level similar to NARI’s lead carpenter certification.

Will any of these desperately needed changes occur any time soon? To be honest, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Washington to step up to the plate and I don’t think your state or local governments will dramatically improve home improvement regulations either.

So what should a homeowner do to protect their home and property? Get the right “tools” and knowledge to be able to protect your home from poor home improvement decisions and situations.