How do you qualify your contractors and installers?
All professionals are required to be bonded and insured and have the appropriate and valid general contractor license in their state. Any contractor with accumulating complaints are de-listed.
How should I pay a contractor?
In general the contractor first gives you a quote, then if you choose to hire that contractor you would pay something upfront, a deposit or down payment between 10% and 50%, and then the rest upon completion. However in certain cases depending on the time-frame and services provided there are exceptions to this, for example in California the law and custom dictates paying no more than 10% upfront and the balance upon completion, or in installments. It’s recommend that you pay using a credit or debit card and NOT with cash.
Does a quote obligate me to hire anyone?
No, it does not. Quotes are a very normal part of the process. It is recommended that you obtain a few quotes.
How do I tell if a quote is an honest reliable one?
Get informed quotes as this is essential to the process and keeps everyone competitive.
General Contractors vs. Experts?
For some types of jobs, such as with solar panels, an expert is the usually the best way to go. In many cases a general contractor will be competent but see if they have completed a certification exam, or ask for a local referral.
How do I avoid a mechanic’s Lien?
If a contractor you hire fails to pay their suppliers or subcontractors, it may come back to you to pay those subcontractors even though you have paid the original contractor in full. If you don’t, they can put what’s known as a “mechanic’s lien” your home and even force you to sell the home if you are unable to pay. The best way to protect yourself in this case is to get a lien waiver from the subcontractors. If they are unwilling, you can pay the subcontractors separately from the contractor and have those subcontractors sign a lien release which will accomplish the same thing. Never settle for a promise that your contractor will pay their subcontractors.
I am a homeowner and I want to know if I am eligible for a federal tax credit for a green upgrade to my house?
Yes. You may be eligible to receive a federal tax credit for green upgrades to your house if the house is located in the United States, and at the time of the upgrade the house was your main residence. The house does not need to be your main residence if your upgrades consist of geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, and small wind energy systems (second homes, new homes, and rentals can qualify).
Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 and in 2010 for existing homes only as it relates to Doors/Windows, Insulation, Roofs (Metal and Asphalt), HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning), Water Heaters (non-solar) and Biomas Stoves
Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, with no upper amount limit through 2016 for existing homes and other construction projects for Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar Panels, Solar Water Heaters, Small Wind Energy Systems and Fuel Cells.
What kind of documents do I need to qualify for the federal tax credit?
You may need a Manufacturer’s Certification, IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version), and your purchase receipts.
A Manufacturer’s Certification is a signed document from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit. Manufacturers provide these certifications on their website or some other medium to help identify qualified products. You must keep a copy of the certification statement for your record, but you do not have to submit a copy with your tax return.