By Carol Hartzog
Special to Edmond Life & Leisure, Fall at Home edition
Terry Neese is a known entity in Oklahoma. Neese made history in 1990 as the first woman nominated by a major political party for lieutenant governor. Prior to that historic campaign, she founded Terry Neese Personnel Services along with five other companies in the personnel, farming, ranching, and real estate industries.
She's since owned many more companies, including a corporate and public policy strategy firm, and is co-founder of a national bi-partisan public policy organization advocating for women in business, representing 505,000 women business owners. In recent years, she has taken her efforts globally through the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women - working with women from Rwanda to Afghanistan, for example.
She's known by the movers and shakers in Congress. Neese testifies on a regular basis before the U.S. House and Senate, and is part of a "Brain Trust" that provides important input to the Small Business Administration, and various coalitions.
She's also learned the value of a professional certification.
From her personnel background, she was a Certified Personnel Consultant.
"If you are part of a certified program, then you have peers that will keep you in check and ensure you uphold the integrity of the industry. That's a good selling point," said Neese.
When she was choosing a homebuilder, the Certified Builder designation was an important part of the decision.
"I spent four years watching (the builder's) homes go up, mostly show homes. I watched the craftsmanship, the detail; I talked with folks and asked if he was true to his word."
She found that to be the case with Steve Allen of Allenton Custom Homes - a Certified Professional Builder.
"With such a designation, you ensure you have someone with integrity, involved with the community and have a long-term belief in Oklahoma. They are a prominent structure of the community and their reputation is on the line when they build for you," Neese said.
In a move toward some form of consumer oversight, Oklahoma State Home Builders Association "certifies" homebuilders. That means the homebuilder carries general liability and workers compensation insurance, has taken the required continuing education classes, agrees to mediation if there is a dispute, complies with building codes and carries a warranty of no less than one year, among other requirements.
Not every builder has this certification but, if they do, a home buyer knows their builder is staying on top of the most current trends in the industry. Buyers can go to https://www.okhba.org to view a list of Certified Builders statewide.
"As with any professional organization, continuing education is a big component," said Edmond builder Tom French, president of Oklahoma State Home Builders Association. "Continuing education allows me to remain at the forefront of building science and knowledgeable of changing trends."
Being a Certified Professional Builder means the builder has taken a certain number of required educational courses. They must have been a member of the home builders association for at least two years. In addition, they have to keep up with continuing-education hours, three courses of which are required - insurance, safety and ethics.
All certified home builders have to carry a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance, and provide a written warranty with every house of no less than one year. A home built by a Certified Builder means the construction has to meet minimum standards and all building codes.
The builder must adhere to a code of ethics set forth in state association bylaws. For more information about the Certified Professional Builder designation, go to www.okhba.org.