How to Find a Registered HERO Contractor for Your Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Project

If you have not yet heard of this exciting, relatively new financing option helping homeowners make eco-friendly home improvements, you may have been missing out on a great program that could make those home improvement projects you have been putting off a reality.

The Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Program is a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program managed by Renovate America.

Started in 2011, the HERO program offers loans to homeowners interested in lowering their carbon footprint, energy bills and water usage through making improvements to their home or property.

There are more than 900,000 products in more than 50 categories that can be purchased and installed using a HERO loan, including artificial grass, insulation, heat pumps, ceiling fans, swimming pool heaters, tankless water heaters and drip irrigation systems.

Qualifying homeowners can use a HERO loan for the cost of removing their natural grass lawn and installing synthetic turf or drought-tolerant landscaping, to install solar panels, to replace an old air conditioning unit with a more efficient one or replace single-pane windows with energy-efficient options.

These, of course, are just a handful of examples of the more than 150,000 types of home improvement projects that can be covered through the HERO program, and the list of approved products and projects is getting longer all the time.

The number of homeowners who can take advantage of this opportunity is growing all of the time as new municipalities are added to the list of HERO communities.

At the time of this writing, there are 344 HERO communities across California, which includes San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County.

If you are interested in looking into this type of financing for your next eco-friendly home improvement project, the first step is making sure your home is eligible.

These loans are not based on credit scores, which makes them even more appealing for some homeowners, but there are a few qualifications you must meet, such as being current on your mortgage payments and property taxes.

To make sure you live in a HERO community, visit their homeowner’s page to type in your address and get an immediate answer.

Once you have determined that your home qualifies for a HERO loan, you can go to the HERO website to type in your name, address and contact information to find out how much you may qualify to borrow.

Knowing how much you can borrow through the HERO program will help you better determine which home improvements to prioritize and to come up with an overall budget for making your home and landscaping more sustainable while lowering your utility bills.

Once you have an idea of how you would like to upgrade your home or property, it is time to find a contractor that specializes in your particular project type and who is registered with the HERO program to complete that project.

How to Choose a Contractor for your HERO Home Improvement Project

One of the requirements for qualifying for a HERO loan is that you must use a contractor that is registered with the program.

Approved contractors have gone through an orientation, understand how the program works and have agreed to adhere to the program’s policies.

Contractors registered with the program also have access to software that makes their lives — and your life — easier by streamlining the process of providing an estimate, getting approval from HERO, documenting the project and getting the funding.

Finding the right contractor can be difficult with any project, but it can seem like an even more daunting task when the pool of potential contractors is limited to contractors that are registered with the program.

While this might, at first, seem like it may make it more difficult to find the best contractor for your eco-friendly upgrades, the list of approved contractors is growing all the time, and you might be surprised at just how many options you have.

For example, there are currently 1,398 contractors registered to complete HERO-funded projects in San Diego County, 1,419 for Orange County residents, 1,330 for folks living in Western Riverside County and 237 for those in need of a contractor in Eastern Riverside County.

If you are looking for a contractor for a paving stone patio, turfstone driveway, artificial grass lawn or synthetic turf putting green, Install It Direct is registered with the HERO program, and we would be happy to connect you with one of our design consultants to discuss your project.

If you are also interested in installing solar panels, upgrading your climate control system or making your home more energy efficient with new insulation, here are seven tips for finding the right contractor for your HERO-funded home improvement project:

1. If you have had work completed on your home before and have a contractor you really like, you should first ask him or her if she also does the project you have in mind.

Many contractors are best known for a particular type of project but are also skilled in other areas.

It is always nice to work with the same contractor on multiple projects, when possible, so this is a great place to start.

Remember, if he or she does do the type of work you need, make sure they are registered with the HERO program for that type of work.

2. If you have a contractor you have been working with or have worked with in the past who is not currently registered with the program, ask them if they would be interested in registering.

They can start the simple process by going to the contractors’ page on HERO’s website to complete an online application.

This is also a great way for them to learn how registering with HERO can benefit their business and their clients.

3. If you love your current contractor but they do not do the type of work you need completed on your home, ask them if they can refer you to someone who does.

Lots of contractors work alongside each other on projects, know each other socially or hear enough of the local scuttlebutt from clients and other contractors to know who does good work at a fair price and which contractors should be avoided.

4. If you have not had any recent work completed on your house, you probably know someone who has.

You might even have a friend or coworker who recently did the home improvement project you are considering.

Ask your social circle for recommendations and you will likely get at least a couple of good referrals to further research.

5. Folks who are not overly shy may find their dream contractor by scoping out houses getting the upgrades they are interested in and knocking on the door.

While not everyone enjoys having a stranger show up on their doorstep, most homeowners are happy to chat about their latest home improvement project, what went well and what went wrong, and which contractors they loved or hated.

6. If personal referrals are not an option, you can start by going to the registered contractors database on the HERO website.

From here, you can narrow it down by county and project type and end up with a comprehensive list of contractors who offer the services you need and are registered with the program.

Then you can take a few (or all) of the contractors on that list and check them out on business and review sites, such the Better Business Bureau, Yelp or Angie’s List.

7. You can also take that narrowed down list, check their websites and further narrow it down to just a few contractors that look like they might suit your needs.

You can then contact your selected contractors to set up an in-person, phone or email interview.

You can also ask them if they give free or low-cost estimates, since this is a great way to meet contractors in person and ask about their expertise with your project type.

If you will be working with someone you have not worked with before, you will likely want to get at least two or three bids to get a better idea of the cost of your project before choosing a contractor anyways.

Additional Information

If you would like to learn more about HERO financing, here are three previous articles that may be of interest to you: