Better Business

Robb Hicken: How to build a green project with a green contractor

Chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionJanuary 15, 2014 

A decision to build green brings countless hours of paperwork, the need to follow strict rules and guidelines, and initial costs. It also brings the need to select a LEED-certified business to do the work you want.

Consider the following for any construction or remodeling project you might undertake.

• Solicit two or three bids. Don’t automatically accept the lowest offer. Make sure all bids are based on the same set of specifications and materials.

• Ask for references and inspect finished products. Make sure that the contractor is complying with all local licensing, bonding and insurance requirements and that any necessary building permits are obtained. Be aware of any ordinances or laws for commercial contractors in your area.

• Never sign a blank or partially blank contract. Before paying, get a sworn statement — a lien release — that all bills for material and labor have been paid for by the contractor.

Typically you will pay one-third of the total contract price, and you will make additional payments after completion of each phase of work. Final payment should not be made until the work is completed and you have inspected it.

• Complete details of a financing agreement before work begins, especially if a second mortgage is taken.

Those are tips from the Better Business Bureau. Here are three from Best Practices Construction Law:

• Check out credentials. A quick check of Green Building Certification Institute records will turn up results on buildings that have achieved LEED ratings and certification, as well as the respective builders associated with those projects — and that’s your lead.

Make sure your builder has LEED Green Associate professional credentials, awarded by LEED itself. Find them in the professional directory of the U.S. Green Building Council’s website. Individuals, not companies, are certified.

• Consult past projects and clients. Your LEED contractor should supply you with a portfolio of projects. Go beyond the list, if possible, and ask to talk with previous clients. Interview them about projects.

• Visit the contractor’s office. LEED contractors may work on site, but most maintain offices. Is the office built to LEED standards? Is it well-maintained?

• Look for logos. The logo and insignia are indicators that the company follows the GBCI guidelines. GBCI is a nonprofit that recognizes excellence in green building practice and performance globally, watches for abuses of practice and provides independent credentialing oversight.

• Finally, BBB has put together the Green Energy Business Directory. It is free for businesses and consumers. Businesses listed are rated on 17 elements that gauge a company’s reliability and reputation in the marketplace. The directory features businesses offering energy conservation services or green energy generation products. Find the directory at www.bbb.org/boise/directory/Idaho-Green-Directory/3/. To register your business for inclusion in the directory, go to http://www.bbb.org/boise/public/Forms/AboutYourBusiness.aspx.

rhicken@boise.bbb.org, 947-2115

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