CHICAGO, Oct. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- By the end of 2012, homeowners across the country will have spent over $400 billion on home improvement projects, according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Since 49% of homeowners are planning to stay put in their homes for at least the next six years, according to a poll by National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the home improvement market has become much busier than in the housing rush of the mid-2000's.
Investing in home improvements without third-party assessments has led to a number of costly side effects including carbon monoxide poisoning from the HVAC systems, sweating windows, moisture problems in attics, and temperature fluctuations. "Every improvement made to a home can have unintended consequences, and testing for these is critical," according to Corbett Lunsford, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Energy Raters & Home Performance Professionals (IAER), a nonprofit resource for the Midwest. The HERS (Home Energy Rating System) and BPI (Building Performance Institute) Professionals that belong to the IAER have built a solid business out of solving unintentional mistakes in buildings new and old.
The secret to making your home improvement dollars count is comprehensive third-party testing. "Taking your home to the doctor before investing in a potentially misguided surgery is a necessary part of any home renovation," Lunsford advises, "which is why it's actually being adopted as part of the building code in Illinois on January 1." The third-party testing helps you invest in only the improvements that are assured to make your home more healthy, comfortable, and durable, rather than those that are the most profitable or convenient for contractors to sell you (and which might cost you even more money to overhaul down the road).
Additionally, there are many local and utility-based incentive programs trying to lure homeowners with the promise of a "$99 assessment," which often doesn't give a homeowner any test data with which to make an educated investment. These programs have goals they must achieve, and their $99 lure seems like a good deal. "You get what you pay for," quips Lunsford, "comprehensive home performance testing is worth $500 minimum; so if you're not getting scientific data, the $99 doesn't really seem like a deal anymore." While participation in these programs can certainly be worthwhile, the IAER suggests using comprehensive third-party testing towards the program's "Energy Audit" requirement.
The home performance experts of the Illinois Association of Energy Raters seem to be onto something big, and are teaming up with home performance contractors throughout the Midwest to deliver the home improvements we all assumed we were already getting. Now the next $400 billion spent on our homes can have proof behind it, and peace of mind to boot- two things a country in recession needs right now.
ABOUT THE IAER: The Illinois Association of Energy Raters & Home Performance Professionals is a non-profit organization of home performance consultants and construction experts specializing in new and existing homes. The members of the IAER use a "Whole Home" approach to analyze building comfort, energy use, durability, and occupant safety. All professional members are certified by the national organizations RESNET or BPI, and are monitored for Quality Assurance by the Association.