The RMC has compiled a list of resource to help you in the decision making process. We update this area frequently to keep the most current resources available to you.
How to select a Contractor
It's a given that we all want quality workmanship when we hire a contractor, yet all too often the homeowner chooses a contractor only because of their low price.
Point to consider when hiring a contractor:
Check membership in the Remodelers Council
Members are screened for Licenses and insurance certificates as well as with the Better Business Bureau, the Construction Industries Division of the State of New Mexico and the Attorney General's office. Any unresolved complaints will disqualify a company for membership.
To see the quality workmanship of a Contracting firm you can visit their website, view their photo booklets, ask for references so you can call past clients.
Ask the Contractor to have his or her insurance company send you a copy of their insurance coverage. If your Contractor does not carry adequate Liability insurance you could be left with extra cost should the job take an unfortunate turn. Complaints of unexpected damage to your home, material loss, or faulty workmanship are all too common.
Although a licensed contractor who has no employees is currently not required to carry workers compensation coverage he can still sue you for lost wages should he become injured while working on your house. Anyone working on your home should be covered by workers compensation to protect you from a hefty lawsuit.
Ask what common health hazards that can be encountered during the course of the work you want to have done. Make sure the contractor is prepared to deal with any of these that might arise.
- Toxic Mold
- Lead Paint
- Toxic Fumes
Find out what permits might be required for the work you want to have done.
Agree with your contractor ahead of time, in writing, on how payment is to be made for the work you are having done.
If you are asked to write a check to an individual instead of a business, or worse asked for cash, you are likely NOT dealing with a licensed contractor. Don't be fooled.
Ask about the warranty. A licensed contractor is required by law to warranty their work. Download Checklist
How to remodel Green
Be sure to have some of these features incorporated into your project. Want to reduce your energy use? Look here for tips and suggestions to help use less energy.
- Bathroom: Ultra low flow or dual flush toilet, Motion sensor faucet, Recirculating pump for hot water
- Laundry: Front load washer uses far less water and gets clothes cleaner.
- Landscape: Xeriscape, Rain barrels and grey water for irrigation.
Purchase energy star appliances, they use 30% less energy than the average appliance, and some have a rebate for efficiency.
- Water heater: Install an insulating blanket. Get a more efficient conventional water heater or an on demand water heater. Install a circulating pump to save water.
- Heating: Installing a programmable thermostat for under $40.00 will save the cost of the thermostat in the first year. System upgrade: Higher efficiency forced air furnace, sealed, insulated ductwork, tax credits for high efficiencies.
- Cooling: Install a ceiling fan for air movement. Change the old cooler to a more efficient Master cool or Ultra cool evaporative cooler. If you gotta have refrigerated, get an efficient system and collect the tax credits.
- Insulation: More is better (up to a point). You should have a foot of insulation in your attic, and it can be batts, or blown in, or a combination. Seal around penetrations for wiring or plumbing entering the walls with expanding foam. If your house has a crawlspace you can insulate your floor.
- Infiltration: The #1 source of heat loss. It's the air that exits through the poor weather-stripping around your windows and doors and the cracks along your floor. You can add weather-stripping to those leaky windows and doors, or better yet, replace them for even greater performance and energy savings.
- Windows: Should have a 'low e' coating on the glass which will qualify for tax credits. Lots of choices for retrofit windows, lots of styles
- Doors: You can buy stainable fiberglass doors with an embossed wood grain that look good and are insulated. Insulated steel doors are also available and are very affordable. When considering a new door, it is as efficient, labor wise, to replace the door and jamb assembly as it is to hang a new door in the old jamb, in most cases. You get much better weather-stripping and seal at the threshold with the new assembly than you can replacing the door alone.
- Lighting: Compact fluorescent lamps use 25% of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last 5 times longer, but you have to buy the good ones. Cheap fluorescents are just that, cheap. They won't last and you probably won't like the light. The best light comes from bulbs with a color temperature of 2850k - 3100k. A halogen light is 3000k. You can get dimmable fluorescents now, and some compact fluorescent contain very little mercury. Remember, these bulbs need to be recycled and not disposed of in the trash because of the mercury. On the horizon and not quite here are LED lights. You can buy them at the home centers but the color temperature is off and they are very directional. They use 10% of the energy of an incandescent lamp and last from 10 to 50 years. The quality varies and the cost is steep but the savings offset the cost.
- Skylights add natural light to dark interior rooms. Best are the solar-tube variety which maximize light in a small area.
- Recycle some of the waste from a project, ie; cardboard, lumber scrap.
- Donate usable building materials and cabinets/fixtures to Habitat for Humanity's 'Restore'.
- Use sustainable lumber from a certified forest
- Buy locally, or regionally, or nationally, or continentally, before you buy globally
- Install a recycling center
- Use low/no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints, finishes, adhesives.
- Specify cabinets with no formaldehyde based glues in the boxes.
- Install correctly sized low sone exhaust fans in the bathrooms and a quality vent at the cook-top.
- Clean filters regularly on a forced air heating system.
- Specify no/low VOC carpeting and pad, consider natural linoleum flooring.
Remodeler Designations Defined
CAPS - Certified Aging in Place Specialist
Certified Aging in Place Specialists are certified professionals educated specifically on how to modify homes for aging in place. Aging in place means to live in one's home independently regardless of age or ability. They employ specialized techniques in lighting, color design, safety, and functionality designed for aging in place home modification. CAPS professionals are certified Builders or Remodelers, and are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education every three years from building industry related educational activities. This is to insure that they are keep up to date on industry standards/ requirements, as well as codes and products.
Some techniques used by CAPS trained professionals include:
- Lighting from multiple directions to reduce glare and shadows.
- Light sockets with more than one bulb to provide redundancy in case one bulb burns out.
- Stacking closets for a future elevator shaft.
- Contrasting colors for depth perception. For example: using a different color counter (or edging around the counter) than the floor, staining the edges of stairs a darker color than the rest of the steps.
- Convenience shelf at entryway to place groceries while getting out keys.
CGB - Certified Graduate Builder
Certified Graduate Builders have a minimum of two years building experience, and have completed the Builder Assessment Review (BAR) and any courses required by the BAR. They are a "Builder" according to the following criteria: primary executive/ owner of a company, superintendent or lead carpenter, or construction executive personnel/ employee that has built a minimum of 1 dwelling in the past 24 months.
CGP - Certified Green Professional
Certified Green Professionals are builders, remodelers, and other industry professionals who incorporate green building into homes without driving up the cost of construction. CGP's have a solid background in green building methods, and provide green building solutions to the home building industry. CGP's have a minimum of two years building industry experience, and have completed courses specializing in green building solutions. CGP's are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education every three years from building industry related educational activities. A minimum of 8 hours is required to come from green building industry related educational activities. This is to insure current knowledge of industry standards/ requirements, as well as codes and products. Green homes provide homeowners with lower maintenance, better indoor air quality, and better long-term value.
CGR - Certified Graduate Remodeler
Certified Graduate Remodelers have a minimum of five years experience in the remodeling business. They also have completed the Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP), and any courses or classes required by the PREP.
CMB - Certified Master Builder
Certified Master Builders have an established history of residential construction, volume of homes, and monetary criteria. They have a minimum of five years experience prior to applying for the certificate, and hold either a CGR (Certified Graduate Remodeler) or CGB (Certified Graduate Builder) license. They are a "Builder" according to the following criteria: primary executive/ owner of a company, superintendent or lead carpenter, or construction executive personnel/ employee that has built a minimum of 1 dwelling in the past 24 months. CMB's have also completed a minimum of five approved Master Builder courses.
Most CMB's attend continuing education classes which help them stay current with business management, industry standards/ requirements, as well as codes and products.
Links to other resources
- Better Business Bureau
- Construction Industries Division State of New Mexico
- Consumer Protection Division State of New Mexico
- Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico
- Cost vs Value Study 2010
- EPA lead paint regulations
- Energy Star
- NM Sustainable Building Tax Credit
- Federal Home Energy Improvement Tax Credit
- Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
- NM Solar Market Development Tax Credit
- Alb Bern County Water Utility Authority
- PNM-Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program