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.

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Home Improvement: Basement Repair Through Waterproofing

Home improvement can sometimes occur in the basement through the repair of implementation of its waterproofing feature. This area of the house or building is prone to various faults which can jeopardize the stability of the structure. It is important to add or compound this feature of any underground area to prevent the entrance of moisture or wetness that can be detrimental to the stability of the building. Having moisture or water in the room or area can make the concrete, wood or whatever substance is in the room deteriorate faster. The waterproofing implementation can also ensure that insects stay out of the area if it is applied well enough. Concrete is a common material used for this kind of home improvement to make the floors and the walls of this room, it is important to make it as waterproof as it can be. There are also other substances and solutions that can be used to waterproof the basement.

Application

There are times when building contractors actually recommend treating the area with waterproofing to make sure that their work does not go to waste. This can also be a standard procedure for new structures that have basements. There are some formulas that are commercial strength and others that are usually reserved for use in dwellings. In some case, there is one form that can be used for both commercial and residential purposes. The area that needs waterproofing application needs to be clean before any solution can be used on it for first time applications and redoing of the application due to old age. Before the implementation of this kind of home improvement, any excesses of the construction materials should be cleared from it. For reapplication of older structures, any loose or decaying materials should be cleared before any application. Some repair may be necessary for older structures because the debris and decay can compromise the application. Water accumulated on the floor should also be cleared and the floor dried in order to make sure that the solution does not weaken due to contact with it. Basement repair can be expensive which is why the application should be thorough and precise.

Cracks, joints or seams need to be carefully sealed to prevent seepage. The application for home improvement in this area may need to be applied initially and a second time after the first coating has dried. It is best to read the instructions that the manufacturer is likely to insert in the package. Some of the commercial products will need to be mixed with other chemicals in order to work while others come complete with the necessary tools and materials to mix it. The amounts of each solution, for those that will need to be mixed, should be correct. Some products are already premixed and will just need to be stirred, shaken or whatever the instructions say. This will ensure that the application is done right and there will be a lower risk of seepage or a leak in the coating.

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Use Lifting Straps To Do The Heavy Tasks Of Home Improvement

Six years ago we purchased a new home with an unfinished basement. After a few years we decided to finish the basement but try to do as much of the work ourselves to save money. We used professionals for the plumbing and electrical wiring. We did the labor intensive tasks of drywalling, painting and tiling ourselves.

In order to get the drywall into the house, we took out a basement window. I thought that would be the hardest part of the job but it turned out getting the sheets from the street to the back of the house was more difficult. Without the use of a lifting strap, also known as a lifting sling, it would have been impossible to do the job. I don’t know exactly how much drywall weighs but to say it is heavy is an understatement. We had to borrow a small crane and use nylon lifting slings to move the boards as far across the yard as possible. Of course, it was raining that day so we couldn’t take the crane into the yard. Somehow we got it done but it wouldn’t have been possible without the machinery and lifting straps.

Another area where a nylon sling came in handy was in our landscaping efforts. With new construction taking place in our neighborhood on a regular basis we were able to get permission from the builder to grab a few of the boulders he accumulated from digging foundations. We had a couple spots in the yard we wanted to place them for decorative purposes. I attached a rope and lifting strap to the hitch of my pickup and dragged the rocks over to our yard. Without the sling, it would have been physically impossible for us to move these.

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