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The Risks of Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor

For property owners, project owners, general contractors and anyone else facing a project with high costs, hiring an unlicensed contractor can seem like a tempting money-saving prospect. Rest assured, any potential penny-pinching you could gain from unlicensed contractors is back loaded with future costs and huge liability risks. Read more

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Electrical License Requirements in NY

Becoming a Licensed Electrician in New York

The electrician industry is on the rise, and the demand for licensed professionals along with it. There is currently a shortage of professional electricians, so the timing is perfect to get into this rewarding and lucrative career path. Here are the steps towards electrical license requirements for becoming a licensed electrician in New York State.

High School Graduation

The first step in your electrical license requirements in New York is get your high school diploma. This applies across the board, no matter what you want your career to be. A diploma is vital to your success and career path. If you have not graduated high school, whatever the reason, you still have options. If you can go back to school, do so. Otherwise, look into getting a General Equivalency Diploma, or GED. This is accepted by most apprenticeships and trade schools.

Do Your Homework

You’re looking to get a licensure in New York. This means you will want to tailor your education to those state laws. The New York City Department of Buildings website has a wealth of information on how to become a licensed Master Electrician or Special Electrician in NY. You will want to take special note of the term of your license as well as the fees involved. Specific requirements include, but are not restricted to:

  • Being 21 years of age
  • Able to read and write in English
  • Possessing good moral character
  • 5 years of experience under the supervision of a Master or Special electrician
  • Journeyman status or a college degree in electrical plus lesser experience (instead of the above)
  • Graduation from trade school or apprenticeship

School or Apprenticeship

Attending a trade or vocational school and entering an apprenticeship is vital to getting your license. Here you will learn all the tools of the trade, including mathematics, wiring and circuitry, motors, electrical theory and other skills important to the trade. You may also learn the ins and outs of the business of being an electrician, which will help you when you strike out on your own.

Generally speaking, those seeking licensure go to trade school first, and then pursue an apprenticeship. In some cases you may find an educational program that includes an apprenticeship. The process generally lasts up to five years, after which you become a Journeyman.

Taking the Test

All of the knowledge and experience you gained during your training comes together when you take the test to become a certified and licensed electrician. You will apply what you know about the National Electrical Code and all of your New York State requirements to their fullest. When you pass the test, you can apply for your license!

Of course, before you start your own business you will want to be sure you have all the necessary contractors’ insurance, such as electrical insurance. This can protect you from the legal hassles of lawsuits, workers compensation and equipment coverage, and defend against inevitable liability issues.



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Hurricane Sandy debris removal scams have feds worried

When people think about the impact of a superstorm or a hurricane they typically think about the damage inflicted upon people’s homes as well as their communities. They think about rebuilding and creating a new hope. What they don’t consider is all of the rubble (left behind by the storm) that must be cleared away before contractors can even think about setting foundations and paving new roads. It’s not a particularly fun job but it’s a necessary one if the community is ever to regain some semblance of normalcy.

After major tragedies there are plenty of stories of contractors doing the right thing (and sometimes going above and beyond that) to help those in need yet (like every profession), there are those who will abuse their position in order to gain either political leverage or some form of illicit cash flow. That’s exactly what happened in Belmar, New Jersey as federal auditors have recently questioned over $500,000 in Hurricane Sandy debris removal costs, which apparently stem from a suspicious relationship between two firms and a local politician.

Matthew Doherty, the mayor of Belmar, has recently come under increased scrutiny from the federal government. Auditors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found that both J.H. Reid of South Plainfield and Ferreira Construction of Branchburg (who both have relations to Mr. Doherty’s wife) accounted for over half of the town’s debris removal costs (roughly $1.6 million dollars in all).

Doherty claims that the costs were substantially higher than they should have been as they were awarded on an emergency basis. Though the costs may have been higher it is not immediately apparent why the federal government has become involved. But, look a little closer at the report and it becomes much clearer. The town of Belmar wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover $285,000 in markups. A price Inspector General has refused to accept on the condition that the firms used a cost-plus-percentage-of-cost method of billing which does not adhere to federal regulations.

Using that method of billing and the relationship to Mr. Doherty’s wife both firms were able to charge a sum that was substantially higher than the norm. With superstorms and hurricanes frequenting the East coast more often towns and local governments should take care to come up with a reasonable plan of action for debris removal that will increase the incentive for contractors to control costs and hopefully result in a much smoother phase of redevelopment. With debris still littered across the tri-state area keep your eyes open for those who may be misusing their power when it comes to clean-up. We would much rather have good contractors such as yourself rebuilding neighborhoods instead of those who may do more harm than good. Happy building!

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Homeowner’s Insurance: Replacement Cost vs. Market Value

Now that you’ve bought a new home, there are decisions you’ll need to make about the kind of homeowner’s insurance coverage you want to buy. Deciding on the value that you’re going to insure is the most important choice you’ll have to make. The options you have to weigh for this decision are replacement cost vs. market value. In order to make the most responsible choice to protect your family and your home, you need to know exactly what each of the options entail.

What is Replacement Cost Coverage?

Replacement cost is the amount that it would cost to repair or replace your whole home. In the event that there was damage so severe that your house needed to be demolished and completely rebuilt, replacement cost coverage would reimburse you for the total cost. This amount is based on the size and structure of the home, and whatever was lost or damaged (from the structure of the home itself, not its contents).

Determining the replacement cost of your home is most accurately done by hiring a building contractor to assess your home and provide you with a detailed estimate of his findings. It’s important to note that in replacement cost coverage, the value of the land that your home is on is not included in the amount of your insurance policy. The only values that are accounted for in your insurance policy are the cost of the property’s structure and the systems, fixtures, and finishes associated with its structure.

Benefits of Replacement Cost Coverage

If you were to lose your home, your quality of life and your financial standing would be least impacted if your home was insured with replacement cost coverage. This is because you will be reimbursed for the total cost of replacing or repairing your home, so you wouldn’t incur any significant out-of-pocket expenses. The reconstruction of your home wouldn’t need to be put off because you didn’t have the money for the repairs, so you’d be able to get back to your everyday life as soon as possible. Experts recommend that you take out replacement cost coverage for at least 100 percent of your home’s replacement value.

Risks of Replacement Cost Coverage

Due to the fluctuating nature of replacement value, it’s important to annually review your policy to ensure you’re still fully covered. Whenever you do any work on your home to upgrade or improve any of its structural components, you should give your insurer a call to let them know. Making these kinds of changes can increase the value of your home, thereby increasing its estimated replacement cost. It’s also important to regularly update yourself on the current market conditions for your area, because any increases in labor, material, or transportation costs will directly affect the replacement value of your home. Some policies offer inflation clauses that will automatically adjust the coverage amount and premiums you pay when construction costs change. That’s the safest way to ensure you’re always fully covered.

What is Market Value Coverage?

The market value of your home is the amount that it would sell for if you put it on the market today—including the current condition of its structure and the value of the land it’s on. Your home’s market value is different than its replacement cost in that it considers additional factors beside the material and labor costs of repairing or rebuilding your home. These factors include the school district the home falls within, crime statistics of the local area, and the number of similar homes that are available in the area. The market value also considers the value of the land itself.

Benefits of Market Value Coverage

Generally speaking, insuring the market value of a home is usually less than insuring its replacement cost. That’s one of the most appealing benefits to new homeowners. For this reason, insuring your home’s market value may be most practical for your needs. If you live in an older home, the cost of rebuilding its artisanal woodwork or masonry may be incredibly high compared to the amount you paid for the house. This is because today’s market doesn’t use the same materials as were previously used, so it’s more expensive to get those materials, and you need to contract a specialist to do the work because it’s outside the scope of modern general labor. For a home like this, a replacement cost policy would have much higher premiums than a market value policy.

Risks of Market Value Coverage

The biggest risk of market value coverage is simply that you may not have complete coverage on your home. Consider the scenario that you purchase your home for $200,000, but the actual cost to rebuild the home from the ground up is $250,000. If your home is damaged beyond repair, you’ll be out $50,000 if you take out a homeowner’s insurance policy for the home’s market value. This means that should a fire, flood, or other disaster destroys your home, your insurance would only provide $200,000 toward the repair of your home. If your family didn’t have that kind of money to shell out on the spot, you’d have to rebuild a home that was less expensive than the one you had before.

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It’s Important to Regularly Maintain Heating Systems

As much as we hate to see summer go, as we make our way into October, it becomes all too real that winter is just a few short months away. Before it gets really cold, this is the time for consumers to make sure their heating systems are up to par. As contractors, it’s important to remind your clients of needs such as these, because it’s easy to forget to attend to your heating systems when the thermometer is still reading 70°.

It’s just as important to maintain heating systems every year as it is to maintain air conditioning systems, so it may be a good idea for you to offer both services to your customers at the same time, to make sure they’re getting the help they need. It’s also a great opportunity to upsell your services; you could even package the two when they’re done at once as a consumer incentive! Furthermore, another option is to promote heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which combine heating and cooling systems into one, and are known to be more efficient and reliable.

By attending to your cooling and heating systems on a regular basis, you ensure that any operational glitches are taken care of immediately, keeping your systems running as efficiently as possible. Routine maintenance is critical for the longevity of a heating or cooling system, because annual tune-ups provide the opportunity for specialists to identify small issues, which can be solved before they turn into costly problems. Taking care of all of these small hiccups to their systems’ operations as they occur will save your clients a lot of money (and stress and aggravation). By providing this kind of advice to them, your customers will genuinely appreciate your business, because you show them that you’re concerned about helping them, and not just turning over a quick buck.