Contractor's Guide to Success

Select the section applicable to your current situation, depending on whether you have an existing contracting business ready for growth or are just getting started.

Growing Your Business

Explore: Chapter 2. How to Prepare

Chapter 2. How to Prepare

Preparing to become a Weatherization Assistance Program contractor involves several important steps. This section will guide you through the essential preparations needed to apply successfully. 

We’ll cover three key areas: business preparation, training and certifications, and getting ready for work. 

These steps will help you lay a strong foundation for your journey as a weatherization contractor, ensuring you’re well-equipped to provide efficient and effective weatherization services to clients while meeting program requirements and industry standards.

2.1 Prepare Your Business

Business preparation includes important steps such as registering your business, getting the right licenses, making a solid business plan, managing your money, and getting the funding you need. You’ll also need to set up your finances, buy the right insurance, find and hire workers, and use marketing tools to grow your business. These are the basics to make sure your weatherization business follows the rules, stays financially healthy, and has a good plan for the future in the weatherization field.

Ensure that the business is registered and licensed at the appropriate local, state, and federal levels. Obtain any required permits and licenses for operating as a weatherization contractor. Be sure to check with your local Weatherization Assistance Program administrator to determine what is required.

A business plan is like a map that shows how you plan to run your contracting business. It helps you set clear goals, manage money, and make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s also useful for dealing with problems and finding new clients outside of the Weatherization Assistance Program. With a business plan, you can take a step back to see if you’re doing well and change things if needed. It’s an important tool to help you run a successful business in a clear and organized way.

Creating a budget helps you run your business better. It is like a map to help you spend money wisely, reach financial goals, and handle problems with more confidence.

Building contractors usually must spend some money during each project before they get paid for the completed job. Running out of money can cause delays in projects, leaving clients waiting for improvements. Sometimes work can’t be finished, which hurts your reputation and can lead to legal issues. Clients might lose trust and go elsewhere, causing you to lose business.

Having available cash from a local bank or savings will prevent these problems. In fact, it is essential for your business. It helps with projects, paying workers, covering costs, and allows your business to grow.

A good accounting system will allow you to keep track of your money. You’ll need to decide if you want to do this yourself or hire a professional accountant. Doing it yourself is cheaper but requires knowledge of accounting and discipline to make sure it gets done regularly. Hiring a professional accountant costs money but ensures that your books are accurate and up to date. Good accounting protects your investment in your business and will save you many headaches when it’s time to file taxes. The choice depends on how comfortable you are with finances and how complex your money matters are.

Several kinds of insurance are needed to protect your business: 

  • First, there’s General Liability Insurance, which ensures both you and the client are covered in case of accidents during projects. 
  • Second, Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides support to injured workers by covering medical expenses and lost wages, preventing legal issues. 
  • Professional Liability Insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance, safeguards contractors from claims of professional mistakes. 
  • For those using vehicles for work, Commercial Auto Insurance is essential, covering accidents or damage to company vehicles. 
  • Lastly, Property Insurance safeguards valuable tools, equipment, and office space. 

 

Insurance requirements may vary depending on where you are, so check with your local Weatherization Assistance Program administrator to ensure you meet all necessary obligations.

Good workers are critical to your success. Finding and hiring workers for a weatherization company involves a few steps:

  • Clear job descriptions will help you recruit, train, and manage employees well. Visit Green Workforce Connect to view sample job descriptions for common weatherization roles, including Retrofit Installer Technicians and Crew Leaders.
  • When you have identified the role you will hire for, spread the word to friends, family, neighbors, and other business owners that you’re looking for workers. Your local career center, workforce training program, and job boards can also help you attract applicants.
  • Review applications, check qualifications, and interview applicants. Being transparent and reliable during this process will make a good impression on your candidates. This includes being clear about wages and scheduling expectations. Ask if they already have certifications and training, but keep in mind that a good worker is worth investing in, even if they need to learn on the job.

Help your new hires adapt to your company by training them in your rules and safety guidelines. Provide a respectful workplace and opportunities for your employees to learn and grow. This will encourage employees to stay with you and do their best at work.

Good branding will help your company get established. Get business cards and clothes with your company name as soon as possible, so that you can make a great impression wherever you go. Social media pages, brochures, and logos on your work vehicle will also help. Provide your employees with uniform items like a logo shirt, jacket, or cap, so they can represent the company and look professional on the job site. All these tools help contractors grow their business and get more clients.

2.2 Training & Certifications

Training and certifications will give you a huge advantage as a Weatherization Assistance Program contractor. We recommend you obtain certifications related to building science and weatherization, handling lead hazards, following safety rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and keeping up with local building codes. These skills will make you better at what you do and ensure that the work you perform is safe and effective for your clients.

2.2.1 Weatherization and Building Science Certifications

Building Performance Institute logo

Weatherization certifications from the Building Performance Institute (BPI) are like special badges for contractors in the business. They give you the training and know-how and make your clients feel confident that they’re working with experts on weatherization. Plus, having BPI certifications can help you get more job offers and contracts. 

These certifications are strongly recommended for contractors who want to do well in the weatherization field:
If you enjoy the building science part of weatherization and want to offer energy auditing services, BPI offers these certifications:

This certification combination prepares you to start offering energy audits.

This is an advanced certification for people with significant energy auditing experience.

This advanced certification prepares BPI Energy Auditors to verify the compliance of retrofit work based on work plans and standards and recommend corrective actions.

Training & Testing Centers

Weatherization Assistance Program training is provided through training centers. These include  BPI testing centers (where you can also take the exam for your certification) as well as training providers accredited by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). You can use these links to explore your training options. Be aware that, in some areas, when a contractor is contracted by the Weatherization Assistance Program, you may get access to free training and certification.

2.2.2 Lead Hazard Mitigation Certifications

EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) training is very important for working in households where there might be lead-based paint, especially if kids are around. This training teaches you how to work safely to prevent lead from harming anyone. Based on what you learn, you’ll know how to follow the rules, keep people safe, and show clients that you do a good job. 

These certificates are required for the following roles:

Installer

Installer

Lead Renovator Certificate

Crew Leader

Crew Leader

Lead Renovator Certificate

Owner

Owner

Lead Renovator Certificate
Lead-Safe Certified Firm

2.2.3 Safety Certifications

OSHA’s 10-hour and 30-hour trainings are like safety schools for businesses. In these programs, you learn how to stay safe at work by spotting dangers, using safety gear, and knowing what to do in emergencies. For workers, this means knowing how to work without getting hurt. And for bosses, it means having a team that knows how to work safely, so there are fewer accidents and injuries and lower insurance costs.

Installer

Installer

10-hour OSHA Card (Required)
CPR/First Aid (Recommended)

Crew Leader

Crew Leader

10-hour OSHA Card (Required)
CPR/First Aid (Strongly Recommended)

Owner

Owner

10-hour OSHA Card (Required)
CPR/First Aid (Strongly Recommended)

2.2.4 Local and State Building Codes

Learning about local building codes is very helpful for construction and renovation professionals. This will help you understand the rules and laws that are specific to your area, ensuring your projects are safe and high quality. By understanding these codes, you can prevent expensive mistakes, follow the law, and build structures that are safe and well made. You’ll gain the knowledge to work confidently and create high-quality projects.

While building codes can vary by area, the International Code Council (ICC) is a helpful starting point to get familiar with codes. Contact your local building department or zoning board to find out about codes that apply to your area and information on how to comply with them.

2.2.5 Other Certifications

Local Weatherization Assistance Program providers may require additional certifications depending on the type of work being done by contractors. For example, some organizations may require certifications related to working with asbestos.

2.3 Getting Ready for Work

Make Major Purchases/Leases​

To launch your contracting business, you need to be sure that you have everything you need to provide services effectively. This means having the necessary gear and tools to get the job done. Having the right equipment shows that you’re prepared to deliver high-quality weatherization services to clients, meeting program requirements and ensuring success in the field. 

Identify Suppliers​

Identifying reliable suppliers is a critical step in setting up your contracting business. Suppliers provide the materials, tools, and equipment you need for successful projects. Look for suppliers who offer quality products, competitive prices, and dependable delivery. Building strong relationships with suppliers ensures you have a steady and efficient supply chain, which is essential for meeting client needs and growing your business in the weatherization industry. Check with your local weatherization program administrator or other contractors to find the best suppliers near you.

Weatherization Career Spotlight

Adam Trujillo and Myron Quintana
Energy Efficiency Technicians

Learn why Adam Trujillo and Myron Quintana became Energy Efficiency Technicians.

“If you like helping people, this is the place to do it. It’s just a great feeling to go home at the end of the day knowing that we helped somebody and we improved their quality of life.”