By Jesse Morado

The New Year is here and many of us are glad that 2009 is behind us.  Optimism is running high this year and homeowners and contractors I have been speaking with lately see 2010 as a great year for improving our homes.  This year brings some changes to the home improvement industry that may be of interest to those who elect to remodel.

First off, starting Feb. 12, homeowners who purchase a new Energy Star rated appliance will be eligible to receive a rebate. The Department of Energy (DOE) was kind enough to approve and award $9.3 million dollars for Georgia’s State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate program.

Homeowners will receive rebates ranging from $25 to $199 on a first come, first serve basis when they purchase a qualified Energy Star rated appliance. These include dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, refrigerators, heat pumps, and more. The maximum rebate to any one buyer is $1,200, which isn’t too shabby.

Taking advantage of this rebate program not only saves energy, water, and lowers your utility bills but puts some money back in your pocket.  Those who purchase a new Energy Star rated appliance can go online at www.GeorgiaRebate.com to apply for their rebate as well as track how much money is left in the fund. Once the fund is exhausted, surprise, no rebate.

Effective April 22, any contractor who disturbs 6 square feet of interior area or 20 square feet of exterior area in any home built pre-1978 that tests positive for lead base paint must adhere to EPA lead safe work practices.

This new rule, The Renovation, Repair and Painting Program states that any contractors who perform work on these properties must certify their firms and provide a “Certified Renovator” on the project. The Certified  Renovator will follow practices that:

  • Set up the job safely
  • Minimize the creation of dangerous lead dust; and
  • Leave the work area clean and safe for residents after completing the job

EPA estimates that 50 percent of the homes built pre-1978 have lead base paint.  So if you elect to renovate after April 22, make sure your contractor is certified.  For more information, please visit the EPA website www.epa.gov. You may find Certified Renovators at www.nariatlanta.org or www.atlantahomebuilders.com.
The trend toward “Green” building practices will continue with a move to update the states energy code. Building or renovating homes that reduce energy usage and provide more comfort is the goal. Homeowners should take advantage of the tax credits and rebates available when making improvements that increase energy efficiency.
More and more products are trending more towards “Green” with some new cradle-to-cradle items like recycled glass countertops, which are becoming popular. Earthen floors cork floors, and reclaimed wood floors are receiving some interest.
Barrier free bathroom designs are on the rise. Baby boomers who are hanging on to their homes are updating bathrooms with curb free showers, comfort height toilets, wider doorways and elevated or wall hung lavatories.  These designs provide more of a European or contemporary feel, are elegant but yet highly functional and allow owners the ability to remain in their home longer.
I believe that renovating to create a home that is comfortable, energy efficient and sustainable will be the trend for this decade.

Jesse Morado is a Certified Remodeler and CEO of Renovation Coach, Inc. a construction consulting firm dedicated to enhancing contractor business practices and providing guidance and advisory services for homeowners engaged in remodeling.  He currently serves as vice chair for NARI’s (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) education committee and is a former president of the NARI Atlanta Chapter. You may reach him at (404) 729-4969 or jesse@renovationcoach.com.

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