If you are a remodeler recently the government opened up a great boom for you with it the “Cash for Caulkers” program, otherwise known as H.R. 5019: Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010. If you work this right this could be a great opportunity for you to not only make money right now, but to also create a great long-term clientele.

Read on and I will tell you how.

First the basics of the bill. There are 13 types of retrofits eligible under the program. Each having a unique requirements and maximum rebate amount. If you want, you can read the full bill here H.R. 5019.

In a nutshell, here is the program in about as simple a format as I can come up with. In addition to qualify most also comply with Building Performance Institute standards or other approved procedures.

Work Basic Requirements Maximum Rebate
Air Sealing Includes interior and exterior measures, utilizing sealants, caulks, insulating foams, gaskets, weather-stripping, mastics, and other building materials. $1,500
Attic Insulation Must add at least R-19 insulation to existing insulation and it must result in at least R-38 insulation in DOE climate zones 104 and at least R-49 insulation in DOE climate zones 5-8. It must cover all of the accessible attic or 75% of the total conditioned footprint of the house. $1,000
Duct Replacement and Sealing Sealing must replace at least 50% of the distribution system in the house. $1,000
Wall Insulation Insulation must be installed to full-stud thickness or add at least R-10. It must cover at least 75% of the total external wall area. $1,500
Basement / Crawl Space Insulation Must cover at least 500 Sqft and add at least R-19 of cavity insulation or R-15 of continuous insulation; or R-13 of cavity insulation or R-10 of continuous insulation to basement walls. For rim joist, you must fully cover the rim joist with at least R-10 on new or R-=13 of cavity insulation. $1,000, $250 for Rim Joist
Window Replacement Must replace at least 8 exterior windows or 75% whichever is less. $1,000
Doors and Skylight Replacement Must replace at least 1 exterior door or skylight. $125 per door or skylight with a maximum of 2 doors and 2 skylights.
Heating System Replacement $1,000
Air Conditioning or Heat Pump Must meet or exceed SEER 16 and EER 13; or SEER 18 and EER 15. $1,500
Geothermal Heat Pump Insulation Must be an Energy Star qualified geothermal heat pump that meets Tier 2. $1,000
Water Heater Replacement $1,000
Storm Windows and Doors Must be installed on at least 5 existing doors or existing windows. $50 for each window or door with a minimum of 5 windows or doors and a maximum of 12
Window Film Installation Windows film must be installed on at least 8 exterior windows, doors, or skylight, or at least 75% of the total exterior square footage of glass whichever is more. $500

This is the basics and as you can see, it can be rather complicated and hard to decipher.

I am not a big fan of the amount of red tape involved in this program. It leaves a lot of the responsibly and risk on the homeowner. They need to get the work done first. Then they need to submit for the rebates. If anything is wrong, they will be out the money.

In addition, with the amounts we are talking about it could be large amount of money.

This also opens up a great opportunity for contractors who are willing to do some extra work.

There are a number of things you could do to make good money, and help your customers while this program lasts.

  1. Become the expert. This is by far the best way to take advantage of this bill. Become the local expert on this bill. Understand it inside and out. People want to buy from people they trust, and one of the easiest ways to build trust is to be the expert.

    Becoming the expert is easy, just become. Don’t wait for somebody to certify you; there is nobody to do it. Then get out into your neighbors. Give talks and all the local group, Rotary, churches, even see if you can get a neighborhood together. Write an article of the local papers. Take the time and educate people about this law and how to take advantage of it.

  2. Take on the risk. Guarantee your work will meet the rebate requirements or you will pay the owner the amount of the rebate. If you really know what you are, doing this should not be a risk to you at all. But it will put owners at ease.
  3. Do the paperwork for the owner. Offer to do the paper work for the owner. Many people would like to do this work and get the rebate but cannot bring themselves to act because of the paperwork. By offering to do the paperwork you remove this issue from them.
  4. Bonus the work. Generally, when a house needs this type of work, other work needs done too. Here is a great time to come up with a deal for people. Think simple but with high perceived value. Offer to fix all leaky faucets free, change lines for ranges and dryers to gas if electric, install a number of ceiling fans. As you can see not very expensive for you, but will have a high value to customer.
  5. Upgrade the work. When given no other options people will go for the cheapest, make sure you give them other options. Some will want just enough to get the rebates, but on average 20% of your customers will take a premium offering. Offer better windows, or greater insulation than required.

    If you want to go for gold offer the upgrades at a discount. Offer them $1,000 better windows for only $800.

Customers for Life

By becoming the expert, taking on the risk, and creating great value you will create customers for life. You will have helped them get a great product and saving some money. You went above what every other remodeling contractor was doing, why would they ever go to anybody else? They won’t.

By taking advantage of the “Cash for Caulkers” program, you will have the chance to make great money, and create lifelong customers. Enjoy.