Accreditation. After earning my certifications, I waited a year before becoming an accredited contractor. During that time I performed a few audits and enough improvement jobs to determine that there was real potential. Accreditation requires an annual renewal fee of $500 and a BPI quality assurance fee that varies depending on revenue — $1,000 if annual revenue is under $250,000, for example. This fee helps cover required meetings with Conservation Services Group (CSG), which also checks my field work and occasionally accompanies me on an audit.
Since accredited contractors must meet BPI standards, I figured that accreditation would help sell jobs to otherwise wary homeowners. Another benefit is that accredited contractors are listed on the BPI website, where a lot of people look for information about energy audits.
Equipment. After completing the coursework, I spent $3,500 on equipment, including a blower door, a gas-leak detector, a pressure pan, a foam gun, a CO detector, and an IR thermometer. I bought everything online directly from individual manufacturers; being an accredited contractor qualified me for a 20 percent refund.
Continuing education. Certifications are valid for three years. To renew a certification, I have to earn a certain number of continuing education credits (CEUs), retake a field exam, and in some cases (depending on the actual number of CEUs taken) take online exams for each designation. At least one field exam needs to be retaken every three years at an affiliated test center, at a cost of at least $600.
Insurance. BPI-accredited contractors must carry at least one million dollars in liability coverage, which is not significantly different from the amount I already carry as a drywall contractor.
All these expenses add up: I estimate that the yearly cost to remain accredited is about $2,500. In addition to the expenses mentioned above, this includes about $200 a year to keep my diagnostic tools calibrated and at least 30 hours per year meeting with CSG and taking CEU classes.
Click here to read discussions on audits and selling energy improvements.
Posted with permission from Hanley Wood, LLC. Originally posted on Builderonline.com by Myron Ferguson on August 9, 2012 at http://www.builderonline.com/building-performance/whats-the-payback-for-becoming-a-home-performance-contractor.aspx