Don’t Miss Your Michigan Continuing Competency Requirements Deadline!

On: January 19, 2017
Residential Builders in the state of Michigan are required to complete a required amount of continued education before their May 31st deadline every three years. If contractors have been licensed for less than 6 years, they are required to complete 21 hours of approved continuing education for each of the first two 3-year licensing cycles. If contractors have had their license more than six years, they are only required to complete a 3-hour Code/Law/Safety course to renew.

We have a brand new 21-hour package with fresh new content that meets all State of Michigan requirements.

The package includes:

Manage Your Way to Big Profits Topics in this course include project management, planning and project startup tasks, controlling finances, managing project progress, environmental, energy, and safety issues, and successfully closing the project. The goal is for you to have the skills and knowledge to manage your projects and maximize profits. Estimating and Bidding for Success This course is an introduction to the construction estimating process. It covers the bidding and estimating process, contracts, and structuring bids. It also familiarizes you with blueprints and architectural renderings to help you successfully bid on a project while reducing hidden costs and maximizing profits. Drones in Construction Drones are a hot new tool that can help you in many ways. This course explores the benefits of drones in the construction industry as well as guides you through regulations and best practices. Code Law Safety This three-hour course is a review of the most recent code, law and safety changes in the Michigan construction industry. The first hour focuses on the 2015 Michigan Residential Code book and the latest changes. Next, the fundamental principles of contract law and the elements of a construction contract are explained. Finally, the last hour reviews OSHA regulations and the safety codes required for residential construction. This course satisfies the State of Michigan renewal requirement for residential builders and maintenance and alteration contractors. Priced at only $160, this package has everything you need! We also have a bundled package that includes the 2015 Michigan Residential Codebook at a discounted price of $260. The code book is regularly $145 so you save $25. Get started today and beat the deadline! Sign up here.

Minnesota builder with thumbs up

New Continuing Education Course for Minnesota Contractors

On: January 18, 2017

Successful Site and Building Design

(7-Hour Narrated/Video Continuing Competency Course) This seven-hour narrated/video online course combines two topics: Site Design and Building Design. In this course, you will learn, from the foundation to the roof, from the appearance to the operation, from construction to maintenance, tried and proven methods for analyzing design decisions that will lead you to a greater reputation as a designer. Approved for:
  • 7 Hours of Continuing Education
  • Residential Contractors
  • Building Officials
  • Manufactured Home Installers
Minnesota Contractors are required to complete 14 hours of continuing education each every two years. There are many course options online, but beware! Always choose a reputable online course provider for your state required continuing education. Your course provider should be State Approved and provide course approval numbers as well as a certificate of completion. They should also report your course completion directly to the State on your behalf.

How to Take Better Real Estate Listing Photos

On: January 17, 2017
This is the first installment of a series of articles designed to help you sell more properties by showcasing your listings with better photographs. The saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true In Real Estate: a picture can be worth thousands of dollars in commissions to you. The quality of your photos can make the difference between a quick sale and a property that languishes. When prospective buyers are looking through listings and see a home that is poorly represented in photos, they are less likely to book a viewing.  Good looking and informative photos make a difference. Just as first impressions influence opinion, the same goes for your listing photos. While house hunting last year, I was frustrated by listings that failed to show important key features. Listings frequently mentioned full basements and garages but rarely were they displayed in the photos. Really? More frustrating was seeing a listing that looked great online but looked nothing like the photos in person. It is important that the listing photos accurately portray how the property looks.  You don’t want to mislead buyers or other agents with deceptive photos. Be sure to show photos of as many rooms as possible. Don’t forget the garage or basement. Considering that your customers have a limited time to physically view a house, be sure to let them see as much of the house as possible online. Remember, your goal is to get prospective buyers interested in scheduling a viewing. Give them as much visual information that you can - get them excited! When they tour the house and they see what they were expecting, it will reinforce their positive feelings paving the way to an easier sale. In future articles, we will discuss composition, lighting, and equipment.  We will cover what makes a good photo versus a poor one, how to stage your photos, and what equipment you should consider. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Real Estate Agents, What Does Your Car Say About You?

On: January 17, 2017
A real estate agent pulls up to a potential listing and gets out of a 10-year-old gray Honda Accord. The paint is a little faded and the headlights are foggy. The car looks as if it hasn’t been washed in a few months and is making a strange sort of squeaky noise screeching from under the hood. This presents a few questions in my mind. Will the inexpensive and unmaintained sedan cost this real estate agent the listing? Does this make the agent look unprofessional or maybe even incompetent? Is there room for improvement? Here is another situation for you. A real estate agent pulls up to a potential listing in a brand-new Chevy Tahoe with all the bells and whistles. Leather interior and a company logo on the side. This also raises a few questions. Does the new SUV show a higher level of professionalism? Will the agent driving the new car do a better job than the agent in the old sedan? Could you overwhelm a potential client by showing you wealth and success? I think the most important question to be answered is “Is the vehicle I am driving helping or hurting my business?” There seems to be three opinions on this topic. The first, my car does not matter. It is all about how the customer is treated and the amount of professionalism I show to everyone I do business with. The second attitude is the make, model or year has no impact. If it is clean comfortable and safe it will do. The last is Yes, the car you drive makes a huge difference. You want to exude success in every way and the vehicle you drive should be top of the line and brand new. In my opinion you should base your vehicle on your target market as well as your location. You would not want to drive a rear wheel drive sports car in an area that gets a lot of snow. On the other hand, you would not want to drive old pickup truck to sell someone a house in Beverly Hills. Pick your car based on location, your target market, and what you can afford. I hope this helps you pick the right car for the clients you want to reach. Good luck and keep on listing.

Michigan M&A License for man laying brick

What the Heck is an M&A License?

On: January 17, 2017

No, the M is not for Mason!

Before getting licensed in Michigan, builders need to decide whether to apply for a Michigan Residential Builders license or an M&A Contractor license.  But many builders don’t even know what an M&A license is.

M&A stands for Maintenance and Alteration, but that does NOT mean the M&A Contractor can do renovations or remodeling.  This means each separate trade has it’s own license that falls under the M&A category. For example, you can get an M&A contractor license to do roofing, or you can get an M&A Contractor license to do masonry, etc.  Here are the 14 individual trades that require an M&A license.
  • Insulation
  • Basement Waterproofing
  • Carpentry
  • Concrete
  • Excavation
  • Gutters
  • House Wrecking
  • Masonry
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Roofing
  • Screen & Storm Sash
  • Siding
  • Swimming Pools
  • Tile & Marble
We recommend that if you are working in three or more building trades, or if you are remodeling homes, go the gamut and get the full residential builders license. It covers all 14 trades, as well as allows you to build from the ground up. (NOTE: Electrical, plumbing and mechanical are not covered under this license.) No matter which license you choose, the Michigan Builders 60-Hour Pre-license Course is still required and is the first step in the licensing process. Step #2 is sending your licensing application to the State of Michigan and this is where you will select which type of license you would like to apply for.  Once the State approves your application, they will give you permission to take step #3 which is scheduling and passing your licensing exam.

Michigan Residential Code Book Errors and Conflicts

On: January 16, 2017
In the 2015 Michigan Residential Code book some mistakes were found. The following are errors and conflicts that have been identified at this point. The Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) has reviewed these issues. The Director of Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has delegated the authority to make, and has approved, the following determinations which are binding on all enforcing agencies. You can download the official document at the LARA website. Stair Geometry In the Michigan Residential Code Section R311.7.4.1 Riser height and Section R311.7.4.2 Tread depth are the correct requirements for stair geometry and they are the promulgated state rules consistent with MCL 125.1513d.  These provisions shall replace the provisions in Sections R311.7.5.1 and R311.7.5.2 respectively; however the exceptions in R311.7.5.1 are still valid. Note: 8 ¼” max. rise and 9” min. tread are still the MI code. Vapor Retarders There are 2 sections on vapor retarders in the 2015 Michigan Residential Code, R601.3 and R702.7.  It has been determined by the department that section R601.3 is the section that is to be enforced by all enforcing agencies. Figure R507.2.1(2) was obviously corrupted during the publication of the rules and was not noticed until it was published by the International Code Council.  The figure that must be used by all enforcing agencies is now provided. Figure R507.2.1(2)   Carbon Monoxide Detector Location MRC section R315 does not provide the location of the carbon monoxide detectors.  The location of these devices is found in the 1972 PA 230 section 4f, MCL 125.1504f: A carbon monoxide device shall be located in the vicinity of the bedrooms, which may include 1 device capable of detecting carbon monoxide near all adjacent bedrooms. Duct Construction The Michigan Residential Code (MRC) Sections N1103.2.3 and M1601.1.1 conflict regarding the use of building framing cavities for plenums.  To resolve the conflict we look at the definition of “cost effective” in MCL 125.1502a(p), and MCL 125.1504(3)(f) and (g). The conflict is resolved in favor of M1601.1.1 as MRC Section M1601 is the definitive section on duct construction.  This decision is based on MRC Section R102.1 (Where there is a conflict between a general requirement and a specific requirement, the specific requirement shall be applicable.) Combustible Insulation  R302.13 is the language that is promulgated by the department and is the language that must be used.  Section R302.14 shall treated as if it was deleted which was the intent. Roof Loading Data Sheet Figure 802.10.1 under Exposure Factor C the designation should be B C and D to be consistent with the ASCE 7-10 standard. The text for the exposures is correct but when A was deleted to be consistent with standard an auto correct function relabeled the remaining exposures A, B and C. This was not caught before publication. If the text is used for providing the requested information and A, B and C designation replaced with B. C and D respectively the information will be correct.  

New York Real Estate License Renewal Requirements

On: January 16, 2017
All licensees are required to successfully complete 22.5 hours of approved continuing education, including at least 3 hours of fair housing and/or discrimination in the sale or rental of real property or an interest of real property, within the two-year period immediately preceding a renewal. New York Realtors have a license renewal date of July 1st every two years.

Does New York Have Any License Renewal Exemptions?

Either of the below are exempt from the continuing education requirements:
  • Any licensed real estate broker who is engaged full time in the real estate business and who has been licensed prior to July 1, 2008 for at least 15 consecutive years and has maintained continuous licensure (no breaks in licensure for reasons such as late renewal submission) or
  • an attorney admitted to the New York State Bar who holds a real estate broker's license.

How Do I Renew My New York Real Estate License?

Both Brokers and Salesperson’s must renew their licenses online through their eAccessNY Account. The renewal must be done on time otherwise the Realtor’s information will no longer be accessible for online renewal. All continued education MUST be done before renewing your license online. If you check “no” to your continuing education being done you will not be able to renew your license.

Who submits my completed New York continuing education?

Real Estate Training Institute is required to submit a report within 1-2 business days of all completed courses. At the end of each course completion Real Estate Training Institute offers downloadable certificates of completion. We suggest students print a copy for their records.

Real Estate Training Institute is expanding their online education to more than just Michigan. We have been working hard to offer top-of-the-line continued education across the United States. See our website for current New York Online Real Estate Continuing Education courses.


Spy or Realtor

What Do Real Estate Agents and International Spies Have in Common?

On: January 16, 2017
They’re all at risk of potential attack at or near their workplace. Not only are these professionals at risk, but Hotel, Restaurant, In-home Nurses and anyone working in an industry in which you must deal with strangers. If you are an employer or currently employed by one of the aforementioned businesses or industries, you should be aware of the hidden dangers of your profession. You may not require the intensive training of an International Spy, but you do need to be aware of potentially dangerous situations and how to best deal with a physical attack. How many of you find yourself alone with a client, deal with an angry customer, or walking through an empty parking lot at night to reach your vehicle? Are you capable of defending yourself if necessary? Spending a few hours learning proper personal protection skills is not only an investment in your safety, but that of your company as well. Online courses make it easy and affordable to give the gift of Personal Safety and Self Defense to yourself and your employees. Learn life-saving techniques in the comfort of your own home or office. In one 4-hour Personal Safety and Self Defense course and you’ll understand the need to increase your knowledge of proper Self Defense Practices, the “Rules of Engagement” and how to best avoid dangerous situations. This online course offers self-defense tactics from the stand-up position utilizing gross motor skill (easy but effective) techniques as well as ground defense and ground avoidance (rape prevention) tactics which can be used anywhere in any situation. So take a few hours to invest in the safety of yourself and staff today! It’s Fast, Easy and Affordable!

Pesticide Regualtions

Do the New EPA Pesticide Rules Apply to You?

On: January 13, 2017
As of January 2, 2017, new regulations from the EPA that govern pesticides are now in effect. Federal law requires any person who applies or supervises the use of restricted use pesticides (RUPs) to be certified in accordance with EPA regulations and state, territorial and tribal laws. Do these affect you? To answer this question, first you need to answer the following questions:
Do you mix, load, or apply agricultural pesticides? Do you help or assist with the application of pesticides? Do you clean or repair pesticide application equipment? Are you an agricultural worker performing tasks related to growing or harvesting plants either on a farm, greenhouse, nursery, or a forest?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are covered by the EPA's Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The new requirements are intended protect workers from pesticide protect workers from exposure to pesticide and reduce the effects of exposures that do happen.

The WPS requires that owners and employers on agricultural establishments:

  • Provide protections to workers and handlers from potential pesticide exposure.
  • Train them about pesticide safety.
  • Provide mitigations in case exposures may occur.

We Can Help

Certified Training Institute has partnered with Mississippi State University to bring the highest quality pesticide education to the entire nation. This training is designed to help you comply with the new regulations. For both commercial and private applicators, our online classes are in HD video with an actual on-screen (not narrated slides). 24/7 access from any computer or mobile device fits your busy lifestyle. Sign up today and begin your required training and stay in compliance with the new laws. Courses are available at our website - www.certifiedtraininginstitute.com/pesticide  

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Pesticides Blamed for Bumble Bee Losses

On: January 12, 2017
On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Protected on the Endangered Species list. This is the first time ever that bees have been placed on the list. Part of the official document states,
“While the exact cause of the species' decline is uncertain, the primary causes attributed to the decline include habitat loss and degradation, pathogens, pesticides, and small population dynamics.”
While bee populations have been declining for several years now, a conclusive reason has yet to be discovered. Cell phone signal, genetically modified seeds, climate change, and many other theories abound. Given that pesticides have an obvious impact on insects, it only makes sense that proper and appropriate use of pesticides is important to us all. This is especially important as bees provide the pollination necessary for a successful crop.

We Can Help

Certified Training Institute has partnered with Mississippi State University to bring the highest quality pesticide education to the entire nation. This training is designed to help you comply with the new regulations. For both commercial and private applicators, our online classes are in HD video with an actual on-screen instructor (not narrated slides). The 24/7 access from any computer or mobile device fits your busy lifestyle. Sign up today and begin your required training and stay in compliance with the new laws. Courses are available at our website - www.certifiedtraininginstitute.com/pesticide