Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beware red flags with green building contractors

Looking to make a few eco-friendly home improvements? Do your homework before committing your cash. The trend of "greenwashing" - where unscrupulous businesses misrepresent their services or use marketing spin to sell not-so-green products and ideas - is on the rise, says renovation expert Mike Holmes, author of "Make It Right: Expert Advice on Home Renovations" (Time Home Entertainment; 2011) and star of HGTV's "Holmes on Homes." "Greenwashing is a problem because we all are susceptible to marketing and advertising," he says. "If we see a product described as 'green' or 'good for the environment,' we might be tempted to buy it, and if it's not legitimately 'green' - that's a problem, in my opinion."

Holmes recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself:

Ask for credentials: Some contractors stretch the definition of green certification. "It's easy to draw a logo and call yourself legit," Holmes says. True certification comes from an unbiased third party. Stick with companies that employ LEED-certified professionals or those that qualify for Energy Star for New Homes or GreenHouse Certified Construction. And remember, hiring a LEED-certified contractor doesn't always guarantee a LEED-certified project.

Get the details in writing: Ask to see a list of what green building materials, features or processes your renovator is using, along with a detailed summary of their benefits. Example: If your contractor is using FSC-certified wood, you should be able to see the paperwork. "A legitimate contractor will tell you exactly how your project will reach its eco-goals, and what percentage of savings you can get, based on actual third-party research," says Holmes. Read More...

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