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Remodeling? Don’t fear the lead paint, we’re certified right now

Dumpster prepared for lead paint demolition

A Dumpster wrapped in 4-mil plastic awaits another load of lead paint demolition. Better World Builders is certified for lead paint removal as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency.

Lead paint — ugh. The reaction is common to homeowners and contractors alike — homeowners, facing uncertainty about expense and health, may decide a remodeling project isn’t worth it. Contractors share similar concerns from the other side of the building contract.

Their reaction is justified, because lead is an environmental toxin. A new law was set to go into effect last fall requiring all contractors to be certified in safe lead paint removal practices or be fined $37,500 per violation. After complaints from contractors that there wasn’t enough time to get the training, the dealine was extended: to Dec. 31, 2010.

Anticipating this law, Better World Builders got certified last year, before the summer construction season, and even completed a major project last summer employing the latest lead-safe practices. There’s an article on our webiste about the project that focuses on its comfort and energy-saving aspects. But before the fiber cement siding and rigid foam insulation went on outside, the 100-year-old siding (with a dozen or more coats of paint) had to go first. And go it did — into Dumpsters wrapped in 4-mil plastic and duct tape.

Lead Paint Safety Suit

Better World Builders’ demolition crew donned Tyek suits and draped the grounds in plastic sheeting to contain lead dust.

The job site had to be posted with required signs and the demolition crew had to wear Tyvek suits and masks on days where the temperature was approaching 90 degrees.

It’s not what every contractor would have done, but Better World Builders got certified and follows lead-safe practices. Why? because it protects the health and safety of the customer, crew and the public. And, of course, because it’s the law.

Is your Duluth contractor giving you performance guidelines?

How can you make sure your contractor will perform according to the contract you both signed? Who’s responsible for what?

As of January 1, Minnesota law (Statute 326B.809) requires all licensed contractors to present their customers with performance guidelines for your project. What does does this mean to you? Performance guidelines spell out the responsibility of the contractor and the homeowner in terms of materials and workmanship. The guidelines must state that your project will follow all building codes and that the builder will provide a warranty for their work.

Better World Builders has just finished training on this subject with the Builders Association of Minnesota and is using the BAM-approved building performance guidelines.

Make sure your Duluth contractor offers the trust and reliability that comes with using these important quality standards.

Energy audits, upgrades, airsealing explained in New York Times article

The New York Times’ home and garden guy, Bob Tedeschi (a.k.a. The Pragmatist) has a great story today about sealing air leaks in your home, how to pinpoint them and how to do some of the work yourself. That is, if you’re so inclined.

It’s a good enough overview but gives short shrift (IMHO) to the expertise required to create a truly strategic plan to seal the worst leaks first and make sure you get bang for your energy upgrade buck.

As Tedeschi, owner of a fine old Connecticut home writes, “My house doesn’t breathe. It hyperventilates.”

If your house hyperventilates, give us a call. We’ll do an energy audit with our blower door tester, pinpoint the worst of the leaks with our infra-red camera and focus your funds on the best payback possible.

Contractor in Duluth MN blends high-tech materials with old world look for historic home

After completing a few steel roof projects earlier this summer, Better World Builders is making its mark on the Duluth contractor scene with a new siding and roofing project on Irving Place, near the historic Granitoid Memorial Park in Duluth’s Upper Congdon neighborhood.

Hallmarks of the project include cement fiber siding with a historic look and feel  and a complete exterior house wrap with 2-inch extruded polystyrene foam (green formulation, of course).

Although the homeowners are adding new high-efficiency Anderson Windows in some locations, they are opting to have their old glass windows on the front porch restored with time-tested reglazing and repainting.

Look for the signs! Full story and pictures to come.

If you’re looking for a contractor, Duluth does no better than Better World Builders — then again I’m biased!

Duluth contractors approach historic preservation projects differently

To be a Duluth contractor is to become familiar with a wide range of home building styles, standards and techniques. As diverse as the types of homes is the views on how to work with with your home’s history.

Some contractors and homeowners are of a “tear it down and start over” mentality. Some treat their homes as examples of living history and strive to preserve every architectural and design detail in its original state. And some take a blended approach. It’s important to choose a contractor who’s on your same wavelength when it comes to historic preservation.

Better World Builders has always had a concern for history in its work, but we haven’t been able to show you what we mean — until now.

We’re working on lining up a friend of ours, Rolf Hagberg, a commercial and fine art photographer, to do some shots of a historically sensitive  project from last year. The architect wants to nominate for a Duluth Historic Preservation award (missed the deadline for this year already, but it’s already in the hopper for next).

While we’re at it, we hope Rolf can make some beautiful images of some of our historic-minded work from this summer, plus get some shots of the buff crew out there swinging hammers, looking thoughtful over plans, etc.

We’ll be working with the property owners to secure permission to post their projects here, but meanwhile we wanted to give you a heads up.

Bug me (Tom) about it in mid-July if you haven’t seen anything.