Archive for the ‘Rules and Regulations’ Category

National Lead Awareness Week

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Today, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children.  Yet, one million children today are affected by lead poisoning.  Pregnant women are also vulnerable to lead poisoning.  There is a good chance that any home, building, school or daycare center built before 1978 contains lead paint.  Just a few particles of dust from lead-based paint are enough to poison a child; the effects can last a lifetime.

The disturbance of lead paint in home renovation creates lead dust.  Last year, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued lead paint rules governing the renovation of pre-1978 homes. Home renovation that disturbs lead paint should be handled by EPA-certified renovators, including Merrick Design and Build, who are trained in lead-safe work practices.  It is vitally important that you understand lead hazards and how your can protect yourself and your family from lead poisoning, particularly if you’ll be undergoing a home renovation.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is a professional trade association whose members advocate for consumer awareness and protection from lead poisoning.  As a NARI member and in commemoration of National Lead Awareness Week, which is happening from October 23-29, I would be happy to speak with you about the dangers of lead poisoning and how your can protect yourself and your family.

If you’d like more information or have any questions on this important topic, please contact me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

Pepco’s Residential Energy Rebate Programs are Still Available in Maryland

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

A few years ago, residential energy rebate programs abounded. Today, many programs have come to an end or run out of funding, but the good news is that several programs are still available for Maryland residents.

Here’s a list of Pepco programs that offer money back on various remodeling improvements, appliance purchases and others home-related items:

Maryland Pepco Home Energy Audits
– Pepco is currently offering a wonderful deal: for only $100, they will perform a comprehensive energy audit of your home. Having an audit is a precondition for several rebate programs, and from a practical standpoint, it makes a ton of sense to understand how your house uses and wastes energy. I had my audit on October 10th and recommend you that schedule yours to take advantage of this limited-time offer.

After you receive your energy audit, call us to review your results. Your auditor will provide a list of recommendations and we can help make sense of their confusing report and discuss your repair and upgrade solutions. Once you complete the recommended home improvements, you can enjoy energy savings of 20% (or more) and receive up to $1200 in rebates.

Maryland Pepco Appliance Rebate Program – Save energy and money with these rebates, including a $50 refrigerator rebate.

Maryland Pepco Lighting Rebate Program – Change a lightbulb to use less energy, save more money and improve the environment!

Maryland Pepco HVAC Rebate Program – This program offers two rebates, plus ongoing energy savings, with Pepco’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) efficiency program.

Maryland Pepco Energy Wise Rewards Program Energy Wise Rewards is a new way for you to take more control over your energy usage, save money on energy costs and take a step towards a greener lifestyle.

Take advantage of these programs and don’t miss out on the free money! If you have any questions or comments, reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick

Merrick Design and Build

Montgomery County is Offering a Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Recently, we received an email from the Montgomery County Government with this great news:

“Interested in upgrading your home to improve comfort, reduce energy costs and even boost long term home value? Montgomery County, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is offering a one time program to help you pay for the costs of these improvements.

The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program offers incentives to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, heating and cooling systems, and appliances. Owners of single family properties and condominiums can apply for up to $3,000 of funding per applicant. The minimum rebate size is $500 (typically a $2,000 to $3,000 project).

In order to be eligible, each applicant must have an energy audit from an auditor participating in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR or a utility (e.g., Pepco, BG&E, Potomac Edison) audit program.

Homeowners are also encouraged to use these funds in concert with other incentives available from utilities, the Maryland Energy Administration and others.

Detailed information on the program, audit requirements, as well as links to other sources of funding is located on the website. Interested homeowners will also apply to the program online via the website. Real time information on the funding availability is posted on the program website.”

Questions? Comments? Reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

What Makes Merrick Design and Build Different?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

As a remodeling firm in the DC area, we have a lot of competition. There are a lot of people performing remodeling these days – from those who have been running small operations out of their homes, to those who recently lost their job and have entered the market, to other firms who are about our size or larger performing the range of projects we do.

So, what makes us different from other remodelers? We could say it’s our superior service, but you probably hear that phrase a lot when it comes to a host of services you buy.

Here are some tangible differences that we offer:

- As of February 5th, 2010, we extended our existing two-year remodeling warranty to a five-year warranty. We made this change to support your lasting enjoyment of your remodeling project and to display the confidence we have in our products and services. The warranty extensions are retroactive for all jobs completed within the last five years and cover all work on the project.

- We apply a teaching and learning mindset with our clients. We hope to teach you and learn from you as we work together and our staff supports a reciprocal experience for you. We provide expert advice and enjoying learning about the intangible information you share with us regarding your vision for and use of your remodeled space.

- Merrick Design and Build is an active member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) on the local and national levels. Being a part of this association provides us with a connection to those in our market and provides valuable industry information that we share with you. Several members of our team also hold certifications through NARI, which have been earned through many hours of training and hands on experience.

- Our longevity separates from many others in the market. More than 20 years of experience is at your fingertips as we work together. We encourage you to tap into our knowledge of remodeling ideas, products and regulations that we’ve gained through the years.

As always, we’re here to speak with you about your projects, questions, thoughts and ideas. Reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

“Check local rules on egress windows before beginning renovations”

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Recently, the Washington Examiner wrote a story about the importance of checking local rules on egress windows before beginning renovations. Egress windows are: “windows that big enough and low enough so that occupants can escape through the opening in an emergency, such as a fire. In the United States, exact specifications for emergency windows in bedrooms are given in many building codes. Vehicles, such as buses and aircraft, frequently have emergency exit windows as well.” (Wikipedia)

I’m quoted in the article by the Examiner and state a few points that homeowners should be aware of. To read the article, click here.

If you’re planning a basement renovation, which may include adding a bedroom in this space, you’ll need to consider whether an egress window will be part of your project. Merrick has worked with many homeowners on this issue, guiding them them through this part of the process and the rest of their successful basement renovations.

If you have questions on the use of egress windows or other renovation questions, please contact me at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick

Training for Lead-Safe Remodeling

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

In September 2010, the EPA’s new Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule officially went into effect. Home improvement professionals were granted until December 31, 2010 to complete training on procedures to keep their clients and their workers safe.

To date, more than 500,000 individuals from 64,000 companies nationwide have received training. This is both the good news and the bad news. A lot contractors have been trained, but thousands still remained untrained.

Early on, Merrick Design and Build underwent the training (and advocated for its implementation) and we support fellow contractors who’ve also made their way through the eight-hour course. I continue to encourage contractors who are still untrained and got a chance to sound off with more thoughts on this topic in a recent article in the Journal of Light Construction.

I also continue to caution homeowners that lead paint is a real hazard, which places children at risk and should be taken seriously by contractors and homeowners.

Here’s some advice if you’re considering hiring a remodeling contractor: check to see if they’ve made the investment to be trained in lead-safe remodeling. It will give you insight on how they view their customers and their workers and indicate their support of the industry in which they work.

David Merrick

Lower Tax Credits

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Well, here’s the bad news: the new federal tax bill signed into law by President Obama just cut the tax credits that homeowners were gaining for energy-efficient remodeling in their homes. The credits were cut from 30 percent of an improvement’s cost (with a maximum of $1,500 per taxpayer) down to a 10 percent credit (with a maximum of $500).

To say I’m disappointed is an understatement and I had a chance to voice my opposition to the cuts in the Washington Post’s recent article entitled “Remodelers decry cut in tax credit for energy savings”.

Now here’s the good news: I remain hopeful and confident that both homeowners and remodelers will find energy-efficient solutions for remodeling projects. New energy-friendly products and services come onto the market every day and I’m excited by the continual progress in this area. Merrick Design and Build stays current with these trends through our affiliation with NARI, ongoing training and via a variety of industry sources.

Care to discuss your concerns or comments regarding this topic? Contact me at (301) 946-2356.

David Merrick

Pre-Purchase Evaluations

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, which may need remodeling, consider a pre-purchase evaluation.  An evaluation can clarify the feasibility of making the purchase and can help you explore:

  • if the style and overall feel of the home suits your needs and the needs of your family,
  • how it can it be re-configured,
  • how your remodel will meet building codes, comply with zoning rules and fit homeowner association guidelines and
  • how various design options can fit within your budget goals

During our pre-purchase evaluations, we discuss a range of remodeling ideas and scenarios, inspect structural conditions and provide ballpark estimates for rooms like the kitchen and baths (whole house remodels require more in-depth evaluations and number crunching).

An important item to highlight is that our evaluations do not substitute for a home inspections. You’ll still need to have a qualified home inspector poke around when you decide purchase.

And, while we’re on the subject of home inspections, I also recommend having a home energy audit prior to purchasing a home. Pepco offers information about energy audits, which can be found here.

If you have any questions about pre-purchase evaluations or would like to schedule one, contact me today at 301-946-2356 or

David Merrick

The ETA on EPA’s Delayed Lead Paint Rule

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Below is a link to a blog post regarding the new lead paint rule, which is posted on the Consumer Reports Home & Garden Blog. The writer shares information about the extended deadline for contractors who still need to receive training to be compliant with this new standard and also includes my view of what the EPA should be doing to raise public awareness on this matter.

If you have any questions about the new lead paint rule, please contact me at 301-946-2356.

David Merrick