Oregon — and Portland especially — has a proud culture of do-it-yourself-ism. As licensed Portland Home Energy Score Assessors, we support that idea! In fact, the Home Energy Score program created by the City of Portland and the federal Department of Energy is centered around homeowners making the decisions of how and when to make improvements to their home. We provide the Home Energy Score and the information about what improvements could help with energy efficiency; you, the homeowner, get it done however you see fit.
That statement comes with an important caveat, though: It never makes sense to take on a project that you can’t finish, or that isn’t safe for you to do on your own. Especially when selling a home, completing home upgrades on schedule — whether it’s a kitchen remodel or attic insulation — is essential.
Some projects are easy to make a decision about — you can easily seal gaps and cracks, but most people aren’t up for replacing windows. Other projects are a bit less cut-and-dried. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you commit either way.
- Are there certifications, codes or permits involved? A professional Portland contractor will know the rules around the specific project you want to complete. For example, insulating basement walls will also require you to finish those walls with sheetrock to comply with Portland housing code, and this project will require a permit in most cases. It’s not impossible for homeowners to apply for and receive the correct permits for their project, it’s just going to add to the amount of time and energy involved in getting it done yourself.
- Do I have the skills? Before embarking on a home energy efficiency improvement project, do your research, talk to people who have done similar projects, and read some tutorials online. There may be steps in the process outside of your skill-level comfort zone, which aren’t apparent up front.
- Do I have the tools? Even if you are confident in your ability to do the work, sometimes not having the correct tools can blow a project budget out of the water. If you’re going to sink a significant amount of money into renting equipment or buying new tools that you might not use again once you sell the home, it might make more sense financially to just hire someone.
- Do I have the time? Anyone who has done home improvement projects knows that one thing can lead to another, and a quick fix can become a prolonged operation. If you’re looking at just barely getting something done within the available time, you might be better off hiring a contractor.
Tips for Hiring a Pro in Portland
There are many contractors in Portland; how to choose the right one?
- Don’t hire anyone who knocks on your door soliciting your business (scam alert!)
- Do check the list of Earth Advantage-certified builders. These contractors have received extra certifications in completing Home Energy Score-related projects.
- Also run a search on any potential contractor’s CCB license number to make sure it is current and to check out any complaints filed.
- Even then, ask for references and talk to the contractor’s previous clients before you commit.
Ready to get your home checked out by our licensed Home Energy Score assessor? Getting a Home Energy Score before you do improvements is a great way to prioritize which projects to tackle first. (Keep in mind, of course, you’d have to get another energy score after the work is done, fair warning there.) Schedule an energy score online today!