Home Improvement Inspiration, Tips and Solutions for Home and Business Owners

Are you looking to add a little pizzazz to your current abode? Of course, there are some projects you can handle yourself, like adding a new splash of colorful paint to the walls, or changing up your decor. If you really want to make a change, it might be time to look for a reputable home improvement contractor. First things first: you should only hire a company that is licensed, bonded, insured and certified to perform home renovations, additions, and remodeling. That way you won’t have to worry about losing money or losing sleep. What else should you look for?

1) Do some research and see if they are accredited by organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List.

2) Visit the company’s website, and look for examples of their work. If you’re looking for specific improvements such as masonry, kitchen and bath, siding, roofing, drywall, home repairs, and additions, make sure they have experience in those areas, and check out pertinent photos and references.

3) Verify that they offer free home inspections and estimates. It shouldn’t cost you anything to talk to their experts and make decisions about what work you need done before you make a financial commitment.

4) Find out what kind of warranty and guarantees they offer. Are they running any specials or promotions?

5) Look up their building contractor’s license using the state’s website, and make sure their license is current and valid.

6) Follow your gut instinct, and only choose a reputable company. Ask to see any customer surveys or ratings they may have.

It can be fun and exciting to transform your home office, bedroom, living room, or driveway. Your home is your castle, so why not show it off? If you are not a licensed contractor, it is not wise for you to attempt plumbing, construction, electrical or cement work. It can be dangerous. It’s better to hire a company that has the proper training, safety gear and equipment needed to get the job done right the first time. An upstanding home improvement organization should offer affordable financing plans, loan options, fast service, and quality materials for your renovation project. It’s amazing what a few changes around your house can do to improve your quality of life. Getting started is easy, start doing research now and you will find the perfect construction firm to give your house the “wow” factor.

The Need for National Guidelines and Testing in the Home Improvement Industry

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.