Three Montpelier, Vt.-area home renovators — Mark Billian, Brian Abbott, and Stephen Gilmore — told The Bridge in a recent discussion that for both the client and the contractor, clearly defining the project ahead of time provides a better understand of what is “in scope” and “out of scope.” Billian uses what he calls a “draw” system for billing that reflects costs as they arise so the client can stop the project at any time. Gilmore, meanwhile, bills clients by the hour on a weekly basis to help eliminate surprises. Every job is a relationship, he notes, and keeping billing current helps everyone understand where things stand. All three men agree that energy conservation projects are worthwhile investments that generate immediate returns, usually from the next time you turn on the thermostat. When it comes to homeowners’ do-it-yourself projects, Billian cautions that homeowner involvement can sometimes be detrimental when it comes to purchasing materials. “Materials are the bones of a project,” and purchasing mistakes can be costly not only in terms of money, but in lost time if something breaks and homeowners must wait for a replacement. Asked for tips homeowners might appreciate, Gilmore says, “It’s a rare house that I go and visit to look at work, where I can’t look around and in 15 minutes come up with a list of things that they could do to save themselves hundreds or thousands of dollars five years down the road that aren’t being addressed — like a broken rain gutter. You have water splattering on siding which is going to rot relatively quickly, that can turn into thousands of dollars of repair.” | Read More