Choosing The Right Contractor To Install Your HVAC System
A heating and air conditioning system goes a long way to make your home comfortable to live in. Depending on where you live, it might be the one thing responsible for make your place even habitable – so it’s of utmost importance that you make sure it’s always working in top condition.
If you’ve been looking to make a proactive decision and buy your system yourself then carefully decide who is it that you’ll hire to install it, good on you. That’s a very wise choice, which not only might save you thousands of dollars, but will also make your home more comfortable for you and your family in the end.
We have an endless list of customers who swear by this strategy – and why wouldn’t they? By buying direct, they’ve saved big, and got exactly what they house needed. It’s a win-win, really.
Even if you have some technical skills and decide to do part of the work yourself, every equipment manufacturer requires the system to be start-up and checked by an expert licensed contractor. Federal EPA regulations require that you’re certified if you’ll be handling refrigerant, even if you’re simply starting up a split air conditioning system which contains it. Since you need to find a qualified contractor, you might as well use our handy tips to make sure you hire a competent one.
Nowadays, anyone can shop online for an enormous variety of equipment, and decide for themselves what each of the device’s pros and cons means to them. If you understand the technical jargon, it’s a good idea to choose yourself – but a lot of contractors might refuse to offer installation alone.
If you’re looking to decide yourself, there’s no need to worry, though. The industry has been adapting quickly to the fact that anyone can find the system they need on their own, and a lot of contractors will be ready to install a system you’ve already purchased.
One of the main advantages you can get by buying direct is transparency regarding the price of labor and equipment. Many industry professionals will not reveal what part of the price concerns labor and which concerns equipment, which can put you at a disadvantage. When you buy equipment yourself, you know exactly how much you’re paying for equipment and work, and you can gauge how fair their price is much more precisely.
Of course, it’s important that you’re fair with them, too. Pricing doesn’t include only the labor itself – it includes insurance, tools, vehicle, overhead, taxes, and many other factors. If you’ll need a team of two professionals installing the system, you should expect a daily rate of around $1000, perhaps a bit more. Of course, many other factors are involved such as the system in question, the state of the market, and even the time of the year. Replacing a system can often be done in a single day – but any additional work necessary can significantly increase cost and time.
Finding Qualified HVAC Contractors
When looking to find a qualified contractor, it’s best to get a reference from a trusted source. Ask your plumber, electrician, or another tradesperson who has worked with you for a while, and they’ll likely refer someone reliable and professional. Not only it’ll help you make sure you can trust your contractor, it’ll help them trust you as well, and make it more likely that they’ll be willing do the installation alone as opposed to the entire thing.
An important thing to do when you want to get a contractor to perform an install-only job is make sure they understand the advantages they can expect from the deal. When you contact them, explain that you have been able to get a great price on the exact system you were looking for, and that it’ll be delivered right to the jobsite. Tell them that all you need is someone to install the equipment, and then service and maintain it throughout the following years.
If you can, offer them an annual service agreement in which you contract them to not only install the service but also provide the required annual maintenance, making sure everything is in good shape. Make sure they see it as a win-win situation, as you’ll use them for any service you might need.
This way, it’s much more likely that the contractor will be interested in the deal – they might even offer you a better price than they’d charge otherwise. Make sure to offer them anything that could be of interest to them – maybe have a deal with them that you’ll recommend them to your company or friends, or explain that you’ll readily pay for anything required for the job.
Once you get a good deal and end up happy with a contractor, make sure to get in touch and we’ll add them to our list of preferred contractors for the area they service. We have been working on this list for a while and it’ll be available to customers once it gets large enough.
Another good thing to do is ask for labor warranty as part of your agreement – they may charge a bit more, but the peace of mind of knowing you won’t need to struggle with potential problems is worth it to you.
If you’re struggling to get a recommendation, a good idea is contacting your local HVAC supply house. People who work there interact with technicians and installers every day and are bound to know someone who’s particularly skilled or reliable, and they’ll be happy to refer you to them. Tell them what you look for in a professional and ask if they know someone who’s willing to install, maintain, and service a new system.
People you know in general can also be a great way to find a good contractor. Ask friends, family, neighbors or coworkers for a contractor they have a good relationship with, and have them call the contractor so they’re expecting your contact. Remember to let them know what they can gain by working with you, such as further referrals or a maintenance agreement.
You can always browse local publications as well – maybe the ones you can find in grocery stores, for instance. You may be able to find a service-only company who is interested in installing and servicing systems, and not in selling equipment. Usually, these smaller companies are eager to get work, and will be more responsive. Before agreeing to hire someone, remember to check whether they have proper licenses and BBB records.
A local trade school might be a good place to visit, too. Students will often be eager to get some hands-on experience, so they’ll often agree to do the installation on its own, and might even charge a good price. In most cases, they’re supervised by an experienced technician, so it really isn’t that much of a risk as you might imagine.
When possible, leverage your status with your employer’s HVAC company. Call them, let them know who your employer is, and ask them for a quote. Make sure to ask your boss first, of course, so you know it’s okay. If the company doesn’t work with residential installation or doesn’t provide the service you need, ask them to refer you to a company that does. This way, you won’t be a stranger, and they’ll be more likely to help.
What To Do Once You Find Someone
However you find a contractor, it’s essential that before hiring you make sure they’re licensed and registered, at least in the ways that are required by law in your location. A lot of states will require contractors to obtain registration and licensing in order to work. Registration doesn’t guarantee that they’ll do a good job, but it means they’ll at least have liability insurance and a surety bond which will keep you safe in case they don’t live up to your expectations.
In order to verify whether a license is valid, you can visit the contractor registration website of your state. Doing so will also allow you to check how long they’ve been in business and whether someone has registered complaints against them. It’s also a good idea to ask for a copy of their liability insurance policy. Contractors need to carry certain information on liability in case employees are injured on your property – if their insurance happens to be lapsed, you could be responsive for costs of an employee’s injury.
If your local laws require a permit, make sure to insist on one. In most cases, an inspection will be scheduled by a local official, to make sure completed jobs meet certain criteria. This will provide you with protection against defective installations and ensures it’s in compliance with requirements in your municipal code.
Ideally, you should work only with companies who can certify that their employees are background checked for drug and criminal violations. After all, if the employers themselves don’t know the people who work for them, you can’t be expected to. Whenever you can, go for a company which provides such verification.
It’s all been a lot to process, so here are some final pointers to keep in mind:
-Always ask for some references
-Try to get at least 2 bids for a job
-Make sure to obtain a written contract listing each and every important aspect of the job.
-Be careful of contractors who ask for large down payments – there’s no need for them to do so as you’ve paid for equipment already
-Pay contractors only once the job is completed, and pay only for the part that is complete.
-Avoid making any final payments before receiving a lien release