My Safe Florida Home Program – Part 5
My Safe Florida Home grant program is well underway now. So far, I’m hearing from a number of new applicants that the time for approval is getting longer. As of the first week of May 2023, someone told me applications received after the end of April will be waiting for about 3-4 months for grant approval.
As you know, I applied for the inspection in November 2022 and then for the grant in January 2023. If you missed the previous parts of my series where I provided an overview of the My Safe Florida Homes program and the first steps in the process, catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
So far, I’ve gone over the program itself – the why and the who is eligible. I covered the how of the application and the process with some of what to expect. I’ve reviewed the home inspection process and the official grant application process as well as how I decided what projects I wanted to have completed.
Next up: Contractor Selection
My approval for the grant was received on January 19, 2023. Once I decided that I was going to have a few of the windows in my home replaced with impact-resistant, Low-E, energy-efficient ones, I had to get the right contractor to get moving. The program says you can receive estimates from multiple contractors, but they must be on the approved list. The list seems to be ever-changing, with new companies being added periodically – they also must apply and meet certain criteria to get on the approved list, so it takes them some time, as well.
The list of approved contractors is available online and can be narrowed by the county they’re approved for and what projects they do (roofing, windows, doors, etc.). The list will show the narrowed list and offers one additional option I noticed: “Accepts LI.” These would be the companies willing to accept Moderate/Low-Income grant recipients. This is important because they get paid directly by the state with that option instead of having the homeowner commit to the full amount of the project and the homeowner waiting for reimbursement by the state.
For me, I always want to know what to expect. So, I’m a big fan of reading reviews on their Google business listings – usually focusing on the quantity and details of any complaints. I also wanted to check all of them for feedback (and resolutions) with the Better Business Bureau. I have my own methodology, of course, but it allowed me to home in on the contractors that would be the best fit so I could get them scheduled to discuss my options and provide in-home estimates for a few different configurations. I only wanted to spend a certain amount out of my pocket, so that helped dictate some of my parameters. I knew there was no way I would be replacing 2 pairs of sliding glass doors and all 7 windows in the house with this budget! LOL!
Selecting Windows and Finalizing Contractor
Once I narrowed down the list, I called and scheduled all of them to come out. 3 of them were able to come out in the same week (2 were on the same day). The 4th company was booking over a month out, so I canceled with them, rechecked the approved list, and called a different company that booked me for the following week. I’m glad I did because they’re the company I ended up hiring. All of my appointments took place between February 1 and February 6.
Ultimately, my decision came down to the configuration of the windows. I discovered it was less expensive for me to replace the large openings with sliding windows instead of the single-hung or double-hung options I originally wanted. Reason: the sliders are treated as a single window, and the others are treated as two windows. 😉 Well, 3 of the 4 contractors offered sliders that only opened from one side. The 4th offered sliders that both sides could open. Still half-opening windows, but I didn’t have to permanently pick which side opened and the screen just slides back and forth. Couple this with the warranty and 7-year annual inspections and screen repair and it was a no-brainer!
On February 9, 2023, I signed on the dotted line and finalized with my chosen contractor. Their estimated time for installation: 8-12 weeks. This included the time for their internal processes, ordering and manufacturing the windows, and ultimately receiving and installing them. That meant sometime between April 6 and May 4, I would have some brand-new windows installed in my home! That would be just ahead of the hotter months and about a month ahead of the start of the 2023 hurricane season.
I. Was. Stoked!
Notification of Contractor Selection
Of course, I had to let the My Safe Florida Homes program know that I had committed to a contractor for the project. At the time, they were undergoing modifications to the system, and I was not able to select the contractor in my portal. So I called. After a few days, the option was finally available and I was able to let the state know who would be doing the work on my home and we were able to move forward. Woo hoo!
Now we hurry up and wait…. Again.