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.

10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas

DIY Home Improvement Idea #1

Install handmade shelves. Rather than purchasing typical cookie-cutter shelves, consider visiting a local craft fair or woodworker for customized shelves. Everything from style, color, design and cutouts can be customized with handmade items. Shelves are ideal for storing tools in the garage or knick-knacks in the family room.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #2

Replace vinyl flooring or install new tiles. These days, convenience is everything. It’s easier than ever to replace vinyl flooring or install tiles with simple self-adhesive backing for easy placement. This will literally give you a new floor surface within a few hours.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #3

Install carpet. Before making a purchase, be sure to measure the area that you need to carpet. If you need to cut carpet, it’s not a problem and special cutting tools can be purchased at any home improvement store. Simply roll it out and secure it to the floor for an easy DIY home improvement project.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #4

Install a ceiling fan. Not only will this add beauty to the room, but it will also help to circulate the air. Just be careful during the installation process and when climbing up or down a ladder.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #5

If you are a big fan of wallpaper, then you already know that it can start to peel from time to time. It’s inevitable. At some point, wallpaper will need replacing and it’s arguably one of the easiest home improvement projects that you can do. Wallpaper is sold at any home improvement store and can be cut to fit any room in your home. During installation, be sure to smooth the paper as you go in order to avoid bubbled areas.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #6

If you like the idea of sitting out on the porch or deck and watching fireflies light up in the night, consider adding an outside addition to your home. Plans can be purchased online or at some home improvement stores, along with the materials needed to complete the job.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #7

Painting your home, either inside or out, is a very popular way of improving it’s overall appearance. Always be sure to read the instructions and use paint in a well-ventilated area.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #8

One of the more sensible DIY home improvement projects includes the installation of a dusk to dawn lighting system outside of the home. This type of lighting will automatically turn on if there is any movement outside of your home and is ideal for anyone, whether you live out in the country or in a larger area.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #9

As winter time rolls around, many people begin to consider replacing their windows to ensure that they are protected from the elements. Many people think of windows as simply something to look through but, in fact, they are much more than that. Windows can actually help to keep warm air inside your home and the cold air out during those harsh winter months, which will make it more comfortable for your family and also your wallet where heating costs are concerned.

DIY Home Improvement Idea #10

Install wall paneling. If you don’t like the idea of painting or simply prefer the look of paneling, a visit to your local home improvement store could be the answer to your next DIY home improvement project. Wall paneling is sold in sheets, is pre-cut and ready for installation. All you need to do is place it in the desired location and secure it.