Think ahead when start­ing projects at home

It’s that time of year again. Spring is a time for fresh ideas, new be­gin­nings and home re­mod­el­ing. The sea­son also marks the time when home­own­ers across the coun­try seek out con­trac­tors who can turn their dream homes into re­al­ity through the process of r

The Southern Berks News - - OPINION -

To com­mem­o­rate May as Na­tional Home Im­prove­ment Month, the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of the Re­mod­el­ing In­dus­try offers home­own­ers a few words of ad­vice for plan­ning their home im­prove­ments.

Don’t wait un­til summer to start think­ing about mak­ing changes to your homes. Find­ing the right de­sign, choos­ing a pro­fes­sional con­trac­tor and se­cur­ing the nec­es­sary fi­nanc­ing for a home im­prove­ment project can some­times take months. Bucks Mont NARI sug­gests that home­own­ers who want to start a project by summer start plan­ning now.

With home­own­ers spend­ing more time at home, de­mand for home im­prove­ments has in­creased, leav­ing qual­ity con­trac­tors booked far in ad­vance. Bucks Mont NARI rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing steps to kick start the process:

• Think your project through from start to fin­ish. Care­ful plan­ning of your home im­prove­ment projects will en­able you to up­date your home, in­crease the value of your in­vest­ment and cus­tom­ize your liv­ing space-all for a lot less than the cost of a new home.

• Look over your property care­fully. What repairs are needed? What im­prove­ments would you like to make? Think ahead and de­ter­mine your fu­ture needs. Pro­fes­sional re­mod­el­ing con­trac­tors can help you in your plan­ning by out­lin­ing op­tions and dis­cussing the im­prove­ments you can make within your bud­get.

• Be sure to re­view your home­owner’s in­sur­ance pol­icy and make ad­just­ments for the added value of the work be­ing done.

Most home­own­ers can han­dle rou­tine main­te­nance projects and cos­metic touchups, but it’s rec­om­mended they con­sult with qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als for larger re­mod­el­ing jobs and ma­jor changes to the home’s struc­ture.

Also be sure that you only use reg­is­tered con­trac­tors. As of July 2009, all re­mod­el­ers in the state of Penn­syl­va­nia had to be reg­is­tered with the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral. You can check on a con­trac­tor’s reg­is­tra­tion by vis­it­ing www.at­tor­ney­gen­eral.gov and click­ing on the box for Home Im­prove­ment Con­sumer In­for­ma­tion.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency passed new reg­u­la­tions for con­trac­tors work­ing in homes built be­fore 1978. The Ren­o­va­tion, Re­pair and Paint­ing Rule re­quires re­mod­el­ers who in­tend to work in pre-1978 homes reg­is­ter their com­pany and com­plete an eight-hour train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion course with an ac­cred­ited trainer. The course teaches re­mod­el­ers how to safely con­tain lead in a home as it is be­ing dis­turbed and re­duce ex­po­sure to res­i­dents and work­ers. Ask any con­trac­tor that you are work­ing with to see their lead-safe cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Don’t wait un­til summer to start think­ing about mak­ing changes to your homes. Find­ing the right de­sign, choos­ing a pro­fes­sional con­trac­tor and se­cur­ing the nec­es­sary fi­nanc­ing for a home im­prove­ment project can some­times take months.

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