Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

May 27, 2010

What Home Owners Need to Know About Lead Paint

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting” rule governing the work of professional remodelers in homes with lead-based paint took effect April 22, 2010.

The EPA rule requires lead-safe work practices in pre-1978 homes, including posting warning signs; using disposable plastic drop cloths; cleaning the work area with HEPA vacuuming and wet washing; and individual certification through a training course. The full rule and brochures for consumers can be downloaded from the EPA’s Web site.

A 2006 NAHB study on lead-safe work practices showed that a home was better off after a remodel than before, as long as the work was performed by trained remodelers who clean the work area with HEPA-equipped vacuums, wet washing and use disposable drop cloths.

Summary of the Rule
1. Training and Certification
As of April 2010, remodeling firms working in pre-1978 homes need to be certified. In addition to firm certification, the company must employ a Certified Renovator. When hiring a remodeler, home owners should verify the firm is certified and employs a Certified Renovator to be sure the work is completed properly.

2. Work Practices
The Certified Renovator has a number of responsibilities. The remodeler must distribute the Renovate Right brochure to the homeowner and ask them to sign the pre-renovation form several days before work begins. They must also post warning signs outside the work area and supervise setting up containment to prevent spreading dust. The rule lists specific containment procedures for both interior and exterior projects. It forbids certain work practices including open flame or torch burning, use of a heat gun that exceeds 1100°F, and high-speed sanding and grinding unless the tool is equipped with a HEPA exhaust control. Once the work is completed, the regulation specifies cleaning and waste disposal procedures. Clean up procedures must be supervised by a Certified Renovator.

3. Verification and Record Keeping
After clean up is complete the Certified Renovator must verify by matching a cleaning cloth with an EPA verification card. If the cloth appears dirtier or darker than the card, the cleaning must be repeated.

A complete file of records on the project must be kept by the certified renovator for three years. These records include, but aren’t limited to: verification of owner/occupant receipt of the Renovate Right pamphlet or attempt to inform, documentation of work practices, Certified Renovator certification, and proof of worker training.

Starting in July 2010, remodeling firms are also required to share with home owners a copy of the records created under the rule within 30 days of completing the renovation.

4. Exemptions
It is important to note that these work practices may be waived under these conditions:
• The home or child occupied facility was built after 1978.
• The repairs are minor, with interior work disturbing less than six sq. ft. or exteriors disturbing less than 20 sq. ft.
• If the house or components test lead free by a Certified Risk Assessor, Lead Inspector, or Certified Renovator.
• The homeowner may also opt out by signing a waiver if there are no children under age six frequently visiting the property, no one in the home is pregnant, or the property is not a child-occupied facility. The EPA is revoking the opt-out waiver as of July 2010. This means all remodeling work conducted in pre-1978 housing must comply with the regulation after this date.

Learn more about EPA’s lead paint rule by visiting www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.

Thanks to NAHB for the info.

-Matt Blank
MBCremodeling.com

May 17, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions About Remodeling

Filed under: Tips on Choosing Your Remodeler — Tags: , , — MBCremodeling @ 1:01 pm

Why remodel?
Remodeling your home can modernize the style, make it more comfortable, improve energy-efficiency and home functionality, increase the value of your home, and help with upkeep and maintenance. Remodeling is a sure investment in your home to ensure longevity, usefulness, and home value.

When is it time to remodel?
Perhaps it was that moment when you realized that avocado green and harvest gold are no longer the “in” colors for today’s trendy kitchens. Or maybe you had an epiphany one day as you stood in line to use your own bathroom. Whatever the impetus, the thought has crossed your mind: Maybe it’s time to remodel . . .

If you decide to follow through on that thought, you’ll join millions of others who decide to remodel their homes each year. The reasons for remodeling are as varied as the projects we undertake. Some of these include:

  • Adding more space.
  • Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances, and fixtures.
  • Creating a floor plan that’s customized for your lifestyle.
  • Improving energy efficiency with new windows, doors, insulation, and climate control systems.
  • Increasing the resale value of your home.

What are some remodeling ideas?
Before you head too far down the remodeling path, it’s a good idea to think through your wants and needs:

  • Decide what changes you want to make.
  • Ask yourself and other family members what you like and dislike about the house, then create a prioritized list.
  • Look at magazines and collect pictures of what you like.
  • Think about traffic patterns, furniture placement, colors, lighting, and how you want to use the remodeled space now and in the future.

For more ideas on remodeling your home to make it more comfortable, modern, and valuable, check out this article from NAHB.org.

How do I plan a remodel?
The first step is to develop an idea of what you want to do. Write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. Look at magazines and Web sites and collect pictures of what you like. The more clearly you can envision the project and describe it on paper, the better prepared you’ll be in making your decision.

Think about traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how you expect to use the remodeled space. If your decision to remodel involves creating better access for someone with limited mobility, you may want to consider contacting a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.

Figure out how much money you have to spend on the remodeling job, furnishings, landscaping or any other cost you might incur.

If you’ve decided you want to hire a remodeling contractor, learn how to choose a professional, avoid contractor fraud, and make your dream home reality.

How do I pay for a remodel?
One of the most important considerations for your home improvement project is financing. After all, the project will go nowhere if you can’t pay for it.

Fortunately, there are several options that can provide the dollars you need. Four of the most common are a home improvement loan, a home equity line of credit, a home equity loan (second mortgage), and a cash-out refinancing of your current mortgage. However, the simplest method of financing is cash.

How do I find a professional remodeler?
When you hire a remodeler, you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of service the remodeler provides will determine the quality of the finished product and your satisfaction with the result. To ensure your satisfaction, make sure you hire a qualified, professional remodeler.

Look at our How to Choose Your Remodeling Contractor resource guide for tips and questions to ask potential remodelers, plus qualities to look for in a remodeler.

What should I expect during the remodel?
While remodeling can be an exciting process, it can also present unexpected challenges. Many problems can be avoided by planning ahead. Check out these 10 Tips for a Smooth Remodel.

Thanks to NAHB.org for the info!

May 12, 2010

5 Tips for a Successful Home Remodel

Filed under: Additions, Do-It-Yourself Tips & General Remodeling Info — Tags: — MBCremodeling @ 2:17 pm

Thanks to NAHB.org for the info!

As summer approaches, many home owners grow eager to start remodeling projects to update and refresh their surroundings. Before getting started, it’s a good idea to hire a professional remodeler for a workable plan and better results.

Here are five tips for planning a successful home remodel that you can enjoy for many years to come.

1. Compile a list of home remodeling ideas and draft a budget for the work.
You likely have some projects in mind, such as modernizing the bathroom, renovating the kitchen, replacing windows or repairing the roof. Prioritize your wish list: Maybe you don’t have the budget for your dream remodel, but professional remodelers can maximize your dollars by doing the work in phases, suggesting budget-friendly products and materials, and implementing creative design solutions.

2. Look for a professional remodeler to help plan the project.

Start by searching NAHB’s Directory of Professional Remodelers at www.nahb.org.remodel. You’ll get a list of nearby remodelers to contact. Asking friends and neighbors for names of qualified remodelers will also help you find a match for your project.

3. Check the references and background of the remodeler.

After you start speaking with remodelers and find one or two who match your project’s needs, be sure to conduct some background research by checking with the Better Business Bureau, talking to their references, and asking if they are a trade association member (such as NAHB Remodelers). Remodelers with these qualities tend to be more reliable, better educated, and more likely to stay on top of construction and design trends.

4. Agree on a contract.
Talk over the details of the home remodeling project and begin reviewing the contract. You’ll want to check the remodelers’ insurance coverage, ask about any warranties on their work, know who is responsible for obtaining any building permits, and understand the process for making any change orders after the contract is signed. Make sure that you and your remodeler see eye to eye before you sign on the dotted line.

5. Take advantage of the energy efficiency tax credits.
If your remodel includes replacing windows or doors, adding insulation, installing new roofing, upgrading heating or air-conditioning units, updating the water heater, or installing energy generating products (such as solar panels, heat pumps, or wind turbines) then you can take advantage of federal energy efficiency tax credits through 2010 that will help defray costs and maximize your remodeling budget while reducing home energy bills. (Learn more at www.nahb.org/efficiencytaxcredit.)

For more tips on planning a home remodel or hiring a professional remodeler, visit www.nahb.org/remodel or contact the Building Industry Association in your town. If you’re in Lancaster, PA, go here: http://www.lancasterbuilders.org/

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