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.

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.

The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM) (http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com) can give you all the right knowledge and “tools” you need, without spending hours and hours doing research and trying to figure out what to do. This club has a variety of forums (chat room, message board, phone consultations and project estimate-contract evaluations) to answer your questions about how to get great home improvement results. Membership to this club also includes the use of The Home Improvement Success System, which is a step by step home improvement system that shows you exactly what to do and what not to do. This system can be used with any project. The club also includes a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not delighted with being a club member.

If you’re serious about doing a home improvement project and protecting your home, then join The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM). You will be happy you did!

The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)
http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com//>

[email protected]
P.O. Box 653
Smithtown, NY 11787
Phone: 631-360-7722
Fax: 631-361-3582

By Hank Jaworowski, CR
Founder and President of The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)
Author-The Home Improvement Success System

How To Prepare Yourself To Succeed In a Work From Home MLM Business

Have you just joined a work from home MLM business? Are you ready to take action? Would you go all out and do whatever it takes? Are you prepared for the challenges in the business?

Here are some advice.

Have The Right Attitude

Unlike traditional business, you do not need a large capital to set up a work from home MLM business. That is why many people go into MLM business thinking that they will just give it a try. How can they be successful if they are not committed to do whatever it takes. You need to be committed and have the determination to succeed. You need to have confidence in yourself. Your prospects will not join you if they see that you have no confidence. It’s also important to have a positive attitude at all time and stay around with positive people. Only people who are positive can succeed in achieving what they want. Don’t expect to see an immediate income in your work from home MLM business. You have to build it up slowly. You need to have patience. Give it some time.

Know why you are in MLM business and set your goals

Ask yourself “Why do you want to start a work from home MLM business and where are you going from here?” Create a compelling vision for yourself. Set your goals. Make sure they are specific, measurable and with a timeframe. Ask yourself “How different will your life be when you reach a certain level of success?” You will be able to come up with a list of answers. Write those down and revisit them every day. Visualize yourself enjoying the fruits of your achievement. You can also create some pictures of your dreams and hang it on the wall where you can see it everyday. These pictures will remind you of your dreams and keep you motivated. You will then have the magic power to overcome any obstacles and achieve success.

Have Passion To Help Others

In network marketing, you will only succeed when you help others succeed. You need to have the passion to help others achieve what they want in whatever way you can. With passion, you will enjoy what you are doing everyday. You will build good rapport with people around you and they will be attracted to you. Your business will grow as you help others achieve their dreams.

Improve Yourself

You need to constantly improve your knowledge and skills. Attend courses and read books that help you to improve your business and yourself. Make a note of the things you need to improve and focus on them. Avoid getting overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available to you on the internet.

Get Into Action

Your vision will remain just a vision without action. Stop procrastinating and take action. Plan a success strategy for your work from home MLM business. Work towards your goals. Bring your dreams to life!

Once you get into action, you are bound to encounter some obstacles. Keep telling yourself “Don’t give up!” Your perseverance will pay off. As you improve yourself and have passion to help others, you will attract more people to you. Keep yourself motivated everyday by setting your goals and constantly reminding yourself why you are in work from home MLM business. Overcome all obstacles and strive for success. With positive attitude and determination, you will be able to achieve success very soon.

Top Ten Standards to Look For a Home Improvement Contractor

Finding a quality home improvement contractor is not always easy. Anybody can sell you on something that sounds great, but how can you know if you’re really dealing with a quality company? Home improvement companies come in all varieties, from shysters to newbies to companies that have been in business for decades. These ten tips will help you pick out the best fit for you no matter what kind of company, from a replacement window contractor to a roofer, you may need.

1) Does the company offer free estimates?

Never go with a company that doesn’t value a relationship with you enough to do a free estimate. When you pick a company you’ll be spending quite a bit of money with them, so they should be willing to invest a bit of time in you.

2) Does the company offer an honest estimate? Is it detailed?

Many people don’t know that there’s a difference between an estimate and a bid. A bid is a legally binding statement, while an estimate is not. Some unscrupulous companies will pitch a too-low estimate to sell to you then and then hit you on the back end with “fees” they tacked on. If you get detailed, realistic prices and time frames, you increase the odds that it’s an honest estimate. In addition, the detailed estimate gives you legal recourse if the company does work you didn’t authorize.

3) What kind of customer guarantee does the home improvement company give?

How long do you have to report problems? What kind of certification can a given home improvement contractor give you on his or her workers? What kind and quality of materials do they use? You should be asking these questions in the initial meeting and get it in writing on any contract. If the answers are vague or deceptive, run.

4) How willing is the company to work with your schedule?

Of course, you don’t necessarily want people in your home you don’t know. However, some home improvement jobs can take several days or even a couple of weeks? If the job is only on the outside, say you’re getting a roof replaced, you don’t necessarily have to be there. However, if entering your home is required, are they willing to work with your schedule?

5) Is the contractor insured, and what protection do you get out of it? Do you have any liability?

Let’s say you’re having your roof fixed and a worker falls off into your bushes, breaking his or her arm. Who’s responsible for taking that worker to the hospital, who’s responsible for paying the bill, and who ultimately is liable for what? Any decent company is insured and does not hold you liable for accidents common in the line of work. Get all liability spelled out in the contract.

6) Is the contractor truly knowledgeable in the area you want improved?

If you’re wanting energy-efficient windows replaced then a “general contractor” who’s done roofing for fifteen years probably is not the right contractor for you. Make sure the home improvement contractor you pick has plenty of in-depth detailed experience with the specific improvements you’re having done.

7) Does the company belong to the local Better Business Bureau?

BBB seals don’t always mean a lot on the Internet, but they still pull their weight locally. If, for instance, you live in Cincinnati, Ohio and you want to know a contractor’s worth, the contractor that’s part of the local Better Business Bureau has been around for years and has a reputation to maintain, while one who isn’t may be a fly-by-night company.

8) Does the company offer financing? If so, is it legitimate?

Some companies are large enough to be able to offer their own financing. Others don’t want to deal with the headache of an entire finance department. If contractor-provided financing is important to you, be clear on that when first talking to contractors. If one offers you financing, check it out thoroughly. Are they doing it in house? Do they have an arrangement with a bank? Do they charge a reasonable interest rate or too high? When do payments start? Any financing is, at heart, the extension of a line of credit. If the company isn’t doing the same checks as a credit card company, look twice.

9) Does the contractor have offices you can visit?

Some contractors are one-person specialist affairs and may even work out of a home office, while others are larger companies with their own offices. No matter what kind or size of contractor you’re dealing with, you should be able to visit an office. You’re not going to get home improvement from a company across the country, you’re going to get it locally. Therefore, their physical offices should be accessible and professional. If you can’t visit their office the company could easily be a fly-by-night operation to take your deposit and disappear.

10) Can you get references you can look up and call on your own? Would any references be willing to have you visit to see examples of the home improvement company’s work?

This one should be a no-brainer, but all too often it’s a detail that gets overlooked in the furor of home improvement contracting. Can you see examples of their work? Can to talk to people they’ve done work for in the past? Just one reference doesn’t cut it, nor do three who you can’t find in the phone book. Anyone can pretend to be three different people, and it’s easy to get call forwarding for three different numbers.

Insurance on Home Improvement Projects

When talking about having insurance on home improvement projects, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to purchase insurance. Although, it’s not a bad idea. Especially, when you are going to be doing the home improvement yourself.

But, what if you are going to be hiring someone else? How do you protect yourself from damages that could happen in the course of them or their crew doing work? There are plenty of ways to insure yourself. But, this might seem like a play on words.

Know Your Contractor

First of all, make sure you know the person who is going to be doing work on your home. That’s probably the best first step you could ever make. That doesn’t mean they have to be a reference or you have to know them personally.

But, there are ways to check them out and make sure they are legitimate. The courthouse is a great place to start when you are researching a contractor. Look up their name and business name. Find any legal history about them. Remember though that a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean a contractor isn’t legitimate. Don’t be afraid to ask about any lawsuits that raise a flag. But, a handful of lawsuits should definitely be alarming.

Ask Questions

When interviewing a contractor, look at it as a job interview. Ask them questions. The rule of thumb is that a legitimate contractor won’t have a problem answering tough questions. A substandard contractor will try to dodge bullets.

Ask how long they have been in business. Ask about lawsuits and complaints. Ask for references. Also, ask if they have ever done any business under any other name. Then, start asking the tough questions.

Ask them if they are licensed and bonded. Ask them what their insurance covers. Make sure it is very clear who is responsible for any damages to your own home or your neighbor’s. If it’s a job I’m having done on my home, I would make sure that they were responsible for any damages. Also, make sure they provide a clean up when they are finished.

Some of the even more important questions concern whether there are hidden fees. Who is going to secure the permits? It’s best if the contractor is responsible for securing any permits you need. Will the job be complete when all the work the contractor promises is finished? Might seem to be an odd concern, but sometimes a contractor will slip out of a job and leave you hanging with a good bit left to do. Then, you find out that the contractor did all they promised and the job isn’t even close to what you imagined when it was done.

Put Insurance in Place

Get everything in writing. If the contractor says they have insurance, make sure you know exactly what their insurance covers. Try to think of all the contingencies. Maybe even talk to your neighbors about all the contingencies. Consult with others who have had the same job done on their home. Then, talk to your insurance company about the kinds of temporary insurance you can get while a home improvement project is being completed.

You might think that a temporary insurance contract looks expensive. But, imagine the damages if any should happen. It could end up being a disaster for you if you are not covered. But, make sure you check your current policy first. You might already have the insurance you need to cover any damages that you could sustain during any home improvement projects.

Ask your insurance agent. But, don’t let them sell you anything new if in fact you do have insurance that will cover everything. It’s a bad thing to have to say, but a savvy insurance agent will sell you insurance you don’t need and it’s virtually impossible to get money back from an insurance company if you find out that you have been duped.