Letters to the Editor: October

Questions Posed About Insurance Coverage

Dear Editor:

Is there is anyone who can answer a question concerning the type of insurance that is recommended for independent sole proprietors doing business in the kitchen and bath design and remodeling industry?

Specifically, I am referring to independent designers essentially going to someone’s home and giving advice and design ideas for a complete kitchen or bath redesign or remodel, as well as connecting the homeowner with good people in the industry such as custom cabinetmakers and granite fabricators.

Could you please advise if there are certain types of insurance that are specifically recommended for this type of professional?

I would also appreciate if you could let me know if there are inexpensive insurance plans that are currently available for independent designers such as myself.

Constance Bonanno
independent designer
North Andover, MA

Editor’s Note: This question was forwarded to Ken Peterson, president of the SEN Design Group, who addresses such key business topics in his seminar, “Critical Managing, Marketing & Selling Strategies in Today’s Economy,” co-produced by KBDN. Below is his response:

Dear Constance:

I would strongly suggest that you consider getting Errors & Omissions Insurance. That is actually what architects and engineers have to protect themselves from lawsuits stemming from planning oversights, bad consulting advice and inaccurate specifications, for example.

Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive coverage. However, you may also be putting yourself in a very risky position professionally by just giving advice without controlling any of the details of design, project management, ongoing customer service and installation during the process.

If you provided these four services and also were able to control all of these details, you would greatly reduce your risk of exposing clients to all of the things that could potentially go wrong with projects and, therefore, eliminate the need for this type of insurance altogether.

In my experience, most kitchen and bath firm owners don’t need Errors & Omissions Insurance coverage because they furnish these services already to their clients.

Ken Peterson, CKD, LPBC, president
SEN Design Group
Chapel Hill, NC

Reader Opines on Radon Measurement Issue

Dear Janice:

I am writing in response to the August 2008 letter from Mr. Al Gerhart and subsequent debates on the subject of dangerous levels of radiation in granite. Specifically, I would like to share the results of research I conducted on this topic in order to dispute some misleading information that is circulating which leads people to believe that if you have a slab that has some traces of radon, it will give off radon for the next 10 generations.

To begin, I was able to work with other design professionals to find a slab of granite that was reading high levels of radon.

I then had the pleasure of speaking with Erik Listou of Build Responsible, Gary Hodgden of AAIR Professionals, Bill Brodhead of WPB Enterprises and Shawn Price of Air Chek. They each gave me a crash course in radiation and radon while confirming that we actually had the hottest stone they had measured to date.

Through my research, I found that everyone that I spoke to about this issue had all reached the same conclusion: At this time, the radiation from natural stone has no significant bearing on the radon levels in a home at all. It was also explained and demonstrated to me that the meters on the market are not necessarily the best tools to go hunting for radon coming from natural stone. The hottest areas of radon on a slab can be easily avoided or even removed if deemed necessary.

In the Natural Stone Restoration Alliance (NSRA) test kitchen we used, the numbers before the installation were all reading very low. In fact, all were less than 0.3 pCi/l on the days of testing (about as low as anyone can accurately measure).

The test kit in the hall reading was 0.6 pCi/l. The test kit hanging in the doorway was 0.8. The test kit hanging from the cabinets read 0.7. And, the one we hung 12" over the “hottest” spot was reading 1.0 pCi/l.

This testing was done in a way that made sure we measured the highest readings possible from each location.

We now intend on testing the home as if we were simply testing for radon in the home.

Josveek Huligar
Huligar Stone Restoration Co.
Bronx, NY

NKBA Exam Policy Questioned by Reader

Dear Janice:

I find it extremely interesting that I actually had to join the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to take their exam in order to become certified in kitchen and bath design because the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) will not let me take the NKBA exam in order to become certified in the kitchen and bath industry.

What was the reason that the NKBA gave me? I don’t work full time in that segment of the industry. Talk about depriving me of my rights! I probably design more kitchens and baths than many NKBA-certified designers do annually.

I would like to know why the National Kitchen & Bath Association doesn’t walk the talk when it comes to its own policies.

Anita Wiechman, ASID, CKBR
The Interior Design Firm
Omaha, NE