A potential superstar going through an extremely ungainly stage: That might summarize how some remodelers are viewing the energy tax credits and other home-improvement incentives in President Obama’s economic stimulus package, at least at this relatively early stage of the game.
In Florida and other southern states, for instance, remodelers are having to run interference between homeowners who want to include impact-resistant windows and doors in their remodeling projects and the window and door installation companies that say -- incorrectly, it turns out -- that their windows are eligible for the credits.
The result is “a mess” for remodelers like Alex Iosa, of Iosa Construction, in Dunedin, Fla. In recent weeks, he says, “I have had to put several projects and window replacements on hold due to a lot of window manufacturers not being able to meet both requirements” for impact-resistance and the new, more stringent energy-efficiency standards required for the tax credits. Although manufacturers “are scrambling” to produce windows and doors that meet both requirements, he knows of “very few, if any” that have such products now.
Unfortunately, that’s not the message that Iosa’s clients are getting. Several have received quotes and promises from installation companies that are “completely wrong” with regard to the tax credit. Not only that, “but my local supplier gave me some bad information about a month ago that inspired me to contact many manufacturers directly,” Iosa says.
A great many phone calls later, he has learned -- and is imparting to clients, via conversations and letters -- of the truth about how efficient windows must be to qualify for the tax credits (their U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient must be less than or equal to .30), how much of a credit they can get (a total of $1,500 for most improvements, not $1,500 per improvement, as some have been led to believe), and what homes the tax credits may apply to (primary residences only).
Why not let the window installers sort out the misinformation themselves? The risk for him as the remodeling contractor, Iosa explains, is that “a year from now, when clients go to claim their tax credit, they’re going to be [unhappy] when they find out their windows don’t meet all the requirements.”
He advises other remodelers to review all product specifications prior to signing off on or ordering any products that might qualify for the tax credits, and to confirm with the manufacturer that the products are, in fact, eligible. “If remodelers never signed off on the paperwork previously, they should start doing it now,” he says.
In the meantime, “this tax credit is not making my company any money," Iosa says. "It is actually holding us up and frustrating our clients.”
Stay tuned to REMODELING as we continue to follow this issue.