Interview questions for hiring the right Home Performance professional

Written by: Bobby Veit on Dec 24th 2011
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Interview questions for hiring the right Home Performance professional

1.  How many Home Performance jobs have you completed in my area?

HELPFUL HINT: Every contracting company listed on the Comfort Corp has completed at least 6 jobs in Westchester County within the last year. It may be helpful to know how many upgrades have been completed in your immediate area, and if any of them are in your community or neighborhood.

2.  How many Home Performance jobs have you completed on homes like mine (age, style, size, etc.)?

 
HELPFUL HINT: Each contractor has different experiences with the homes they have upgraded. If you have a pre-1900’s home, you may want to ask if the company has familiarity with houses built over 100 years ago. Other homes that stand out may be: homes with brick exteriors; landmark buildings; condos; homes with 3 or 4 units; etc.

3.  What is your particular area of expertise? How do you handle work that is not within your expertise?

HELPFUL HINT: All of NYSERDA’s Home Performance professionals must be certified in either HVAC or insulation, and some are certified in both. Find out which one the contractor focuses on, and ask if they have a formal relationship with another BPI accredited company for sub-contracting work that is outside of their specialty. To complete a comprehensive job on your home, the contractor must be able to responsibly sub-contract work outside of their expertise.

4.  What happens during a comprehensive home assessment? What tools will you use?

HELPFUL HINT: Each NYSERDA Home Performance contractor must conduct a specific checklist of procedures, including a blower door test to assess air leakage, safety testing on all combustion appliances, and a visual inspection of the inside and outside of the home. Some contractors use infrared thermal imaging cameras and pressure pans too, but it is not required.

5.  What areas of my house will you need to access?

HELPFUL HINT: A contractor will need to access any attic spaces, basement areas, and crawl spaces. They will also need clear access to your heating and cooling systems, so if attic areas or basement areas are cluttered, you may need to clear a path.

6.  Do I need to keep certain areas clean in order to perform the assessment? If my house gets dirty, how will it be cleaned?

HELPFUL HINT: If you have a fireplace, it will need to be cleaned of loose ashes before conducting the blower door test. If a contractor accidentally gets soot from the fireplace or boiler in any area of your home, it’s good to make sure they have a policy for cleaning the vicinity.

7.  Are you insured?  Will you provide a certificate of insurance?

HELPFUL HINT: Every NYSERDA Home Performance contractor is required to maintain current insurance. Some insurance companies may require a homeowner to receive a certificate of insurance (proof that the contractor has appropriate insurance, including worker’s compensation) and to ask that the contractor include the homeowner as a named insured on such policies. You should check with your insurance company to be sure.

8.  Will you provide me with at least three (3) references from homeowners?

HELPFUL HINT: Energize NY’s Comfort Corp contractors have each completed at least 6 jobs in Westchester County within the past year. They should each be willing to provide you with at least three references to homeowners who have completed Home Performance jobs. Ask for references for homes that are similar to yours, or within a neighboring community.

9.  What can you tell me about incentives and financing options for the upgrade work?

HELPFUL HINT: There are different incentive rates for Home Performance jobs based on the type of fuel you use to heat your home, your annual household income, the county you live in and the number of people living in your home. The contractor should ask you about these factors, and give you an answer based on your living situation. If your household income is below a certain number, you are eligible for additional incentives through Assisted Home Performance, so if you think you may be eligible, make sure your contractor tells you about it. Additionally, there are 2 options offered by NYSERDA for low-interest loans. Your contractor should tell you about On-Bill Recovery and the Smart Energy Loan, both of which have an interest rate of 3.49%.