Some Customers Want a Scientific Approach

A long time ago, well before I began writing about residential construction, and well before I learned about the professional home improvement business, I innocently dropped a dime on a window installation firm. My house was old and my windows were something out of the Revolutionary War.

The guy said he would come to my house and show me different kinds of windows. He said that he would sell me whatever window I wanted to buy. Then the guy came over, and we did not hit it off. I was disappointed. He did not show me lot of windows. He showed me one window. He demonstrated the window, but it looked bulky and ugly. Adios Amigo.

I later said to my wife. “Can you believe that guy? He tried to close me, like seven times, and we weren’t even close to buying what he was selling.” I must have called the wrong guy. Later, I connected with a truck-slammer with some construction skills and he did the work. But that was a long time ago and I know better.

Qualified remodelers and home improvement pros can be found in abundance; you just have to be able to appreciate where they are coming from. And I must say that, for my way of purchasing windows and siding, I like the way Michael Lotesto, a building science professional, is going about launching his relatively new home improvement business. His story is featured here.

Lotesto is an engineering geek who happened to earn a living in residential construction for 20 years. His approach, which is to measure a home’s performance before making any recommendations for exterior improvement, is not new. In New York, there is a program for energy-focused contractors called NYSERDA, (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). Lotesto and his team do not show up to an appointment unless they are being paid $450 to conduct their battery of tests on a home. Every call, whether the client signs on for contracting work or not, is profitable time.

The company uses thermal imaging cameras, hand-held thermometers, CO detectors, gas detectors and blower-door apparatus to get a baseline reading on the home’s condition. Later, Lotesto will prepare a complete report about the home’s performance, complete with a set of recommendations that could include new windows, new siding, insulating materials, or roofing.

For customers that sign up for contracting work with Lotesto’s company, Performance Exteriors, there is a final test to show energy-saving progress. The old metrics are compared with the new. It gives homeowners a feeling of confidence that their problem has been solved. This approach is not for every contracting firm, but it makes a lot of sense for some. For Lotesto, there is no going back to an old way of doing things. Lotesto and his employees get treated with a great deal of respect by their clients. They are viewed as true professionals. They feel good about what they do. You really can’t beat that.