Indiana builders eye weatherization

The Indiana Builder’s Association appears to be a big winner as the state moves to spend federal stimulus dollars dedicated to home weatherization.

The association has never participated in the weatherization program before, but it has been preliminarily appointed to oversee the spending of more than 20-million dollars in 37-separate Indiana counties.

“We had a lot of folks sitting on the sidelines,” said Rick Wajda from his Indianapolis office of the Indiana Builder’s Association. “This would be a way to put contractors and subs back to work.”

Tyler Noel of Niles has had a lot of time on his hands lately. So much time, that he managed to build a new wooden boat in his garage. “I’ve been a homebuilder presently for probably 15-years,” he said. “We were busy last year, but around the first of the year, it just came to a screeching halt, we haven’t worked since just before Christmas.”

The possibility of working in home weatherization is looking pretty good to Tyler, who recently took and passed a test required to seek work in the program.

The federal government is pouring some 130-million dollars into home weatherization in Indiana alone. “I thought this energy evaluator would be perfect for me with my experience and years in this with my contacts, I could evaluate these houses,” Noel said.

Real Services in South Bend has been involved in the home weatherization program for years. Suddenly it is not only hiring, it is looking to double its staff.

“The president’s stimulus package wanted to concentrate on creating jobs, so as a staff, I’m going to hire five new people,” said Rich Gadacz of Real Services.

Real Services stands to more than triple the number of homes it weatherizes in a normal year. In fact, t hanks to the stimulus package, Real Services will be spending some 266-thousand dollars a month on energy efficiency in Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties.

“The bottom line is we’re going to be serving about another four hundred homes that we wouldn’t normally serve and we’re creating jobs,” said Gadacz. Real Services plans to weatherize a total of about 600-homes this year.

According to Gadacz, “The normal client that we get is probably a retired person or maybe somebody on disability, but now people who have lost their jobs and aren't making their normal wage are falling into our programs.”

While Real Services normally handles weatherization in a five county area, it will handle just two counties where the stimulus plan is concerned. That’s because the other three were awarded to the Indiana Builder’s Association.

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