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

Home Improvements For Expectant Parents

Expectant parents have a lot on the mind, but, amongst the many “To Dos” in preparation for the baby’s arrival, home renovations should not be ignored. A new baby not only requires changes to the home, but to the house as well. Safety is the primary concern and should drive prioritizing decisions with respect to preparatory home renovations.

“Baby-proofing” has become a popular aspect of home improvement, and for good reason. While initially the baby’s time will be split between the relative safety of mom’s arms and the crib, once the baby learns to crawl you are in for a few years of curious, and potentially dangerous, exploration of every bit of your home. Many of these improvements require little effort but offer immeasurable returns in terms of peace of mind.

If you live in an older home you should definitely confirm that there are no lead-based paints in the home. If there are lead based paints on walls, doors, or other surfaces, they must be covered by specially-designed sealants or thoroughly removed. In either case, consult with a professional contractor to ensure you are taking all necessary precautions. Legal bans on lead pipes for home plumbing were only enacted within the last 25 years, so you should test your water for the presence of lead. Home test kits are available from most home improvement stores.

Electric outlets are of particular concern because they are easily accessible by the crawling baby. Look for easily attachable plastic covers with child-proof access.

If your water heater allows, set the maximum temperature to 120 degrees.

Removable gates can keep children off of staircases, but, as an additional safety measure, if you have polished wood stairs, you may want to consider adding some sort of inlay for traction. Handrails are also available that attach to the existing rail, without damaging walls, to provide a lower, easy-grip surface for small children.

On doors to basements, garages, or any area you want to keep the child out of, replace lever doorknobs with traditional circular knobs that are more difficult for a child to open. Alternatively, covers or accessories that prevent a lever knob from being opened can be bought at home supply stores and installed to avoid outright replacement.

If window replacement is on your list of pending home renovations, anticipation of a curiously crawling new family member is good reason to consider safety windows or window locks that cannot be easily opened by a child.

Install child-proof safety locks on cabinet doors to avoid dangerous exploration of household products, tools, or breakable items.

If you have tall bookshelves or dresser drawers, anchor them to walls to prevent a curious child from toppling one over.

If all of these safety preparations have you exhausted, install a video/audio monitoring system in the baby’s room to save a few of those late-night trips out of the bed.

Home Improvement Books

Home Improvement and Repair Books are a very useful resource when it comes to home improvement DIY. Home repair is an unavoidable circumstance faced by everyone at one stage or the other. Any home owner is supposed to be prepared for this dreaded situation as constant wear and tear of home appliances and various other climatic conditions lead to home repairs and improvement.

Home Improvements, big or small cannot be ignored or postponed as doing any such activity leads to more aggravated problems and higher is the expenditure. However, everyone desires to run away or avoid such hassles such as the leaking roof, termites in the framework, seeping basement, squirrels in the attic, furnace failing, broken down air conditioner, and many more simple home repairs as well as home improvement like adding on rooms or installing a new kitchen.

Improvement books can help the novice when it comes to home repair and home re-modeling. Home repairs being a common problem is almost solved individually. Only when technical involvement is high, the professionals are asked to attend. As they turn to be expensive, people are trying to solve their own problems. Not only are the professionals expensive, but are also time consuming. To avoid such grave conditions, improvement books have come as a great source of relief. There are many books written by experts and exceptional professionals who have come out and published books to give ideas to solve home repairs and improvements to save money and time.

Home improvement books are one of the best ways to protect your expensive investment. Though homes are the highly prized investment, they often call less maintenance than a car. However, you should fix any problem of your home repair before it completely breaks down. By following the tips and solutions provided in the books, it is possible to evade the financial stake. These books offer you a seasonal plan of checking all the particular areas that may create problems. You can follow the illustrated instruction of what, where and when to do. You can comprehend by reading the book, when it is actually time to call for a professional. You can treat the home improvement books as the most trustworthy home maintenance official program that guides and steers you in making the apposite choices.

Trends: Nature Inspired Bedroom Designs

When you’re working on the interior design scheme of a bedroom, chances are you want it to be comfortable and relaxing. This leads many people to decide they want to create a bedroom design that is inspired by nature. Even with this general direction, many people have a hard time figuring out exactly where to start or what they should incorporate into a nature inspired bedroom design. Here are a few tips and tricks on where to start and what to look for.

Where to Start

The truth is, the jumping off point for creating a bedroom design can be anything. Some people prefer to start at the top and work their way to the bottom; while others work from the ground up. These are two easy methods, but they can quickly stop you dead in your tracks.

Instead, find a particular item or object that you’re really drawn to. One that speaks volumes about what you’re looking to achieve in the space. It could be a duvet, a nightstand, a throw rug, wallpapering, wall art or even a bedside table lamp. Then, draw your inspiration from this. You can easily come up with entire nature-inspired bedroom designs using a single piece. Draw the color palette from your inspiration piece and go from there. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to create a nature inspired bedroom design once you’re working from inspiration.

What to Look For

The truth is, ‘nature inspired’ does not necessarily mean it’s all about flowers and fauna. It can be a marine-inspired theme, or simply a color scheme that is drawn from natural hues.

For a color palette, look for colors that you would expect to see occurring naturally outside your window. This does not necessarily translate into muted olive greens or other soft, muted tones. If you’re drawn to the red poppies in your garden, or that bright yellow hibiscus, then you’ve been inspired by nature and you can easily incorporate that into your bedroom design.

Next, you’ll need to find furniture that works for the space. When working to create a nature inspired bedroom design, you’ll want to steer clear of pieces that feature too much ornamentation. Instead, opt for pieces with clean lines and fluid, organic shapes. Opt for natural wood tones rather than painted finishes. While nature isn’t necessarily simple, it tends to be interpreted as ‘natural’ and ‘simple.’ This should be seen in your furniture choices.

Of course, depending on your personal style, it’s also perfectly acceptable to choose carved wooden pieces that feature ornate but natural botanical details for your bedroom design. This is especially true if you are going for a tropical style. However, keep in mind that this does not necessarily blend well with other nature-based styles, nor is it for everyone.

Finally, you can start working with different accessories to complete the nature-based scheme of your bedroom design. If you’re stumped on what to look for, there are a few basics that work no matter what. Pressed leaves or flowers in beautiful, simple frames are an elegant touch to a nature inspired bedroom. Woven baskets, metallic accents and so forth, all work well in these types of spaces.

Once you know where to start, a nature inspired bedroom design is easy to create.