Lead paint regulations and Angie's List opinions got remodelers hot under the collar in 2013. Of the 25 most popular articles from 2013 on Remodeling Online, 14 were on one of these two controversial topics. Mellowing the mix a bit were five popular design stories and six management topics that helped remodelers focus on their businesses. As we finish out the year, here's a look back at what caught your attention and spurred your comments in 2013.
In April, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the EPA is losing money on its lead-based paint program (otherwise known as the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule). The program turned a profit in its first year (2010), but costs are projected to exceed fee collections by $25.3 million through 2013, resulting in an anticipated $16.4 million loss through next year. Read more.
Feeling like you're not getting what you expected from professional services review site Angie's List? You're not alone. Insulation contractor and building analyst Howard Falkow shared his less-than-impressed viewpoint in a July letter to the editor after reading Remodeling's April cover story "You've Been Rated."
"I know that I did not get any leads from Angie's List, and I am bothered that they just don't care," Falkow wrote. "I don't know how long contractors will put up with advertising for a fee with no results." Read the full letter.
#3. Follow the Money
In another focus on Angie's List, Remodeling columnist Mike Damora also addresses the site's lead generation vs. advertising set-up for contractors. Here, Damora takes a look at how Angie's List makes its money, what contractors really get for the fees they pay, and how the company views its consumer and contractor customers. Read the column.
The EPA isn't the only agency enforcing rules that bring challenges for remodelers. With fall prevention as OSHA's No. 1 priority, this May article takes a look at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's fall prevention program as well as its general jobsite requirements, and how enforcement could affect a small construction business. If you've got a roofing crew, pay close attention to what OSHA expects in terms of fall protection, and what happens during an OSHA jobsite visit and the subsequent steps. Read more about fall prevention requirements.
White cabinets, high-tech faucets, and gray as the new black were the highlights of the National Kitchen & Bath Association's 2013 trend predictions early in the year. Glass backsplashes and LED lighting were also expected to remain popular. From floors to fixtures, take a look at what design choices were popular in the last year.
Remodeling's extensive June cover story on universal design went room by room to highlight more than three dozen areas where accessibility and functionality can be improved for users of all ages and abilities. Page through the feature for stylish ideas to help your current clients prepare for their future selves. Read more.
The opt-out provision of the lead renovation, repair, and painting rule has been a source of contention for remodelers, homeowners, and politicians since the RRP rule went into effect in 2010. Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives in May seeks to restore the opt-out provision, which would allow homeowners to forgo RRP compliance if they attest that no small children or pregnant women are in the home being renovated. The bill, H.R. 2093 and its companion Senate bill 484, are both currently stalled in committee. Read more
At the 2013 Remodeling Show in October, Owens Construction president Bill Owens conducted a well-attended session on universal design for the kitchen. From cabinets to appliances, here, we take a look at seven areas Owens highlighted in his presentation, touching on how best to improve these spaces and concepts for a better flow throughout the kitchen. Read Owens' universal design advice.
Though we were done talking about Angie's List? Not yet! This segment of our You've Been Rated feature looks at contractors' love-hate relationship with the online review site. Remodelers and other industry professionals take a look at the flaws of the service and why contractors keep going back anyway. Read more.
Can an insurance company or adjuster refuse to pay the general contractor's overhead and profit when indemnifying a homeowner's claim for replacement of damaged property? Not according to the Florida Supreme Court. This September article discusses a July court decision in the case Trinidad vs. Florida Peninsula that affects many in the insurance restoration industry. In it, the court ruled that homeowners are entitled to the full cost of replacement, whatever that includes, and whether or not the repair or reconstruction actually takes place. Read more about the decision.
How can you create wealth after you retire? In this feature from our August issue, remodelers and small business professionals consider where the next stage of business will take them. Putting their construction and business know-how to work can be the key to retiring gracefully and comfortably. Read more
When clients want to know where their money is being spent, Remodeling columnist Shawn McCadden says keep your cool. Find out why they want to know and what information they're really looking for before tossing a bunch of numbers around. Read Shawn's advice on addressing this request.
When remodeler Christopher Dietz's client used two online review sites to accuse him of theft, Dietz took action. After contacting both Yelp and Angie's List to attempt to have the accusatory posts removed (to no avail), Dietz was ultimately granted a preliminary injunction by a Virginia court. When the injunction was reversed, Dietz took his claim to the next level. Trial dates have been set for late January 2014. Read more about this ongoing case.
Didn't make it to the exhibit floor during the Remodeling Show in October? Fear not! Products editor Lauren Hunter rounds up 11 of the latest and greatest products for you to try in your next projects. New introductions ranged from Environmental Stoneworks' Clipstone manufactured stone material to industry newcomer SideJob Cargo Racks, which earned the best-of-show new product award. See all 11 products here.
In an August interview, Angie's List vice president of product Shelly towns told Remodeling that the company feels it has "the critical mass to improve the marketplace," and that it aims to improve contractor-customer relations by rolling out communications and scheduling online tools. The tool works as an alert service that tells users when they have a message from an Angie's List member. Learn more about how the service works.
In October, an emergency restoration firm in Sullivan, Mo. was fined $30,000 for failing to follow safe practices outlined with the RRP rule. Lack of certification, record-keeping, and proper dust mitigation were among the violations. Read more
Subcontractors let remodeling companies expand the services they offer even when they don't have the relevant skills among their existing staff. While many remodelers have good, longstanding relationships with their trade partners, bringing on a new subcontractor can be a challenge, and fostering that relationship takes work. Here are 10 dos and don'ts to make sure your subcontractors perform to your expectations and pass along the same level of customer service that your own staff would give. Read the list here.
In June, Remodelers and industry associations gathered to give the EPA a piece of their mind. Speakers for NAHB Remodelers, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and other groups addressed memebers of the Environmental Protection Agency over the office's plans to extend the lead-paint rule to public and commercial buildings.
"EPA should stop relying on the unsound analysis it used to justify the residential rule as the basis for creating a similar rule for public and commercial buildings," said Ben Gann, legislative affairs director for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. Other remodelers and remodeling industry groups noted that additional regulations would duplicate efforts of laws already in place, and add an undue level of complexity and cost to public and commercial projects. Read their arguments here.
The chairman of NAHB Remodelers, William Shaw, called on a House subcommittee in June to request that they alter the government's lead-paint rule to stop restricting consumer choice, quit relying on faulty testing equipment, and prevent the rule from expanding into commercial construction. In addition to RRP, Shaw's testimony also reached into the realm of green building and the LEED rating system. Read more.
Shawn McCadden's September column for Remodeling gave owners some food for thought in the world of personnel. Does your company's definition of "lead carpenter" jive with the industry's definition? If not, the differences could lead to confusion for your staff and clients. "Just because your carpenter is the most experienced carpenter on the jobsite, or is the highest paid of your jobsite employees, it doesn't make him or her a lead carpenter," McCadden says. Read more about this important topic.
Want to get your contracts signed faster in 2014? Remodeling columnist Paul Winans offers an eight-step process for sales success. How many of them do you do already, and in what order? Read Paul's steps here.
Sleek, modern fixtures, rising vanity heights, and reduced water use are all trending in bathroom design, but do you know why? Gray Uhl, director of design for American Standard met with Remodeling and shared details into what's driving the decisions for what bath fixture designers make, and what consumers buy. Read more.
More than half a million contractors received postcards from the EPA in January 2013, kicking off an outreach effort surrounding the agency's RRP rule. Excluding certified renovators, the campaign aimed to get more non-compliant contractors to get their RRP certifications. Read more about the outreach campaign.
Three years after an upgrade to part of its lead-paint rule took place, and still without any test kits that meet its tougher standard, the EPA said in October that it has neither plans nor resources to promote the creation of testing kits. Until a new type of kit is developed that meets both false positive and false negative standards, only current kits that meet false negative criteria will be recognized. Read more.
Contrary to many of the letters and viewpoints we received on the topic, Wayne Baruch's June letter to the editor outlined reasons the industry, Senator James Inhofe, and other RRP challengers are wrong to want to change the rule. In addition to what Baruch calls the "ick factor" of lead paint and its ability to sicken those who come into contact with it, he draws on his experience as an expert witness to consider all the parties involved when lead-paint contamination is at issue.
"NAHB and the senator are ignoring or don't know about contractors' duties under OSHA regulations and the fact that even if the "opt-out" were reinstated, neighbors of the home being remodeled have not waived their rights to be safer from lead toxicity," he wrote. "In our expert witness practice, I have cited a painter whose work contaminated neighbors' properties, and would cite the owner who failed to avoid the spread of contaminants." Read more of Baruch's letter here