Many people approach buying a furnace, AC or HVAC the same way they do when they buy a car. They look at price only, or other superficial things. But, this is almost always a bad idea, so here are the best ways to virtually guarantee that you get a quality unit.
Make a List Of Contractors
Make a list of contractors based on personal referrals you get from trusted friends and family, or hop onto Yowl or Angie’s List. While forums are OK for referrals, they can sometimes be problematic.
For example, people who have small businesses come to their homes are more reluctant to post negative reviews than when the customer is going to a small business’s location. That’s partially due to the fact that once the contractor knows where the customer lives, there’s sometimes the fear of reprisals on the part of the homeowner – especially if the small business is a dealer and needs to periodically service the unit in the customer’s home.
So, expect “grade inflation,” where more positive than negative reviews are posted. Professional forums, like Angie’s List are a little better about keeping grade inflation down, but they’re not immune to it.
In the best of all worlds, you would hire someone like these licensed technicians to do the job. That’s not always possible, but that’s the ideal.
Take a Video Of The Type Of Work You’d Like Done
Take a video of the type of work you’d like done. Show it to the contractor you’re considering. Their response will tell you a lot. If they hesitate or they try to dissuade you from what you want, pass on them and move to the next prospect.
Tip: you’ll weed out a lot of “bad” contractors this way, and you’ll notice a lot of HVAC people turning you down or hesitating to do the job the way you want it done. That’s fine. Remember, you want to get something you’ll be happy with.
Schedule an In-Home Interview
Schedule an in-home interview with a prospective contractor. This interview is to assess the cost for the new system and to detail any potential issues that may arise during the job.
Prepare Your Home
Prep the home by clearing away any shrubs from the air conditioning unit outside, and cleaning up the home so the contractor can get to your HVAC system.
Make Your Contractor Feel Welcome
Everyone likes to feel welcomed in the home, and HVAC contractors are no different. You don’t necessarily need to make sandwiches for him or her, but it might be nice to offer refreshments and to clean up a bit before they come over.
Don’t Sign Anything During The Estimate
Never sign a contract during the estimate process. If they pressure you into signing, or offer a “one-day-only” sale, pass. The company is trying to goad you into buying and it’s usually a bad deal, even when it looks like a good one.
Expect It To Take A While
Real tradesmen aren’t a dime a dozen. Odds are, you will have to sift through a lot of garbage to get a quality technician – someone who is a master of their craft. That’s OK, but be prepared to keep digging until you find someone who will do a good job and charge a fair price.
You may end up paying more for the unit than you thought, but at the end of the day, it should be a system that runs for at least 10 years without major problems.
Wayne D. Otten is an HVAC contractor. He likes to share his insights on home improvement. His posts appear mainly on DIY and home renovation blog sites.