Many remodelers shy away from pursuing government contract work, afraid they can’t comply with safety and/or payroll rules, for example. But, says Rick Westmoreland, a Kansas City, Mo., contractor doing weatherization projects, “If you’re a legitimate contractor ... operating with integrity and paying decent wages ... you won’t have a problem.” With millions of government stimulus dollars funneling into the building industry, there’s no better time to conquer your fear and put your crews to work.

Chris Gash

Think Small

Don’t imagine, though, that your small company can jump into a large urban renewal project. “I do a lot of government contract work that is government funded through housing organizations, not-for-profit, or community-action agencies that facilitate the program, be it on government-owned properties or programs that provide funding for usually low-income or disadvantaged homeowners to get their houses rehabbed or weatherized,” Westmoreland says. Local utilities or local low-income weatherization organizations can guide you. Or go to the state weatherization contacts list on the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) website.

Time and Energy

It takes time to find the work, but pursuing private homeowner leads takes work, too. In the WAP, the community action agency administering the program finds and qualifies clients, does an audit, and prepares a scope of work. The remodeler bids on, then does the work. When the project is finished, the agency tests that the work was done properly. Westmoreland says he usually receives a check a couple of weeks after completing punchlist items. Projects offer a steady flow of work and income, and, Westmoreland says, having a “skilled crew doing this specialty work ... allows me to pursue market-rate private sector jobs.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.