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  1. #1
    I've got 6 HVAC contractors coming on Friday to give me estimates on changing out my HVAC system. Two from Trane, Two from Carrier and two fron Bryant. Me and wife are in disagreement on weather to ask for a customer list on the front end. She thinks we should ask for that list after getting a written estimate so we won't make them mad and jack up the price which also brings up the question as to weather I should play it dumb when they come or be very specific on what I expect such as doing an audit to size the units properly, customer list. I do plan on telling them that I want a 16+ SEER and 92+AFUE split dual zoned system as a general guide. Just not sure how much detail to go into?
    Thanks,
    Stan

  2. #2
    I would just ask, have you installed anything for my neighbors or someone close by. You may know the person where it was installed and they the other homeowner if you know them can let you see their work. The most important thing is insurance, this reason protects you because if one of the employees gets hurt on your property they can sue you if the company in not insured, 2nd, is the license and is it current you can ask for this and also the insurance. You can even demand a certificate of insurance made out to you. There are so many things you can get into like a bond for performance. Called a performance bond. Just be upfront with each one and tell them you would like all the info attached to their bid. Then make your choice. I hope this helps you. http://www.referwork.com/ref/choosin...contractor.htm

    Have a great day...

    [Edited by 9mmnow on 02-10-2005 at 04:56 PM]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Zelienople, Pa
    Posts
    2,965

    Thumbs up

    Let them know up front what you expect if they want to come out.
    This way you won't be wasting a hackers time!
    How tall are you Private???!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Pacific Coast of Canada
    Posts
    4,008

    Personally.....

    I don't get into bidding wars so if I find out you are getting 6 quotes thats when I might jack my price up.

    But asking for references doesn't offend me at all. In fact you get my full attention because we have awesome references.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,633
    Just an opinion thunder: Get the references and follow-up on them. But in my mind they're only one very small factor. The company that I would consider to be the biggest crook in two counties has no problems producing enthusiastic references. And Collin is right. Don't tell anyone you're getting six quotes. It would be easy for them to assume that you want low bid (AKA a crappy install).

  6. #6
    I don't see much point in asking for references. Who's going to give you the name of someone who doesn't like their work? As for Collin's arrogant remark about jacking up the price if someone is getting several bids, this is exactly why you need to interview several different contractors. Not for a "bidding war", but to see who you feel you can trust and who will answer your questions. I talked to a couple contractors a while back and wasn't satisfied with any of them---it had nothing to do with price because they were all in the same ball park. Rather, it was the attitude (condescending) and in one case it was because he told me I could replace the outside unit but leave the 18 yr old air handler, etc. in place. Of course, his price was about $1000 less than the others---how stupid did he think I was? All I want is a contractor who doesn't treat me like an idiot child and who will give me a straight answer about the warranty (I need a specialized ceiling-mounted air handler so can't use the same brand as the condenser). So far either they didn't know or avoided a direct answer. I'm not looking forward to the next round of interviews.

    PS None of them mentioned doing a Manual J. All they did was ask the sq. footage and then tell me I needed either 1 1/2 or 2 ton. If I ask about it, they'll get all resentful and defensive because a -woman- tried to tell them how to do their job, or they'll say I don't need it. Sigh.

    [Edited by susanfromsandiego on 02-11-2005 at 04:29 AM]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Houston,Tx.
    Posts
    15,505
    Lordy are they marrying your daughter or performing heart surgery? I personally believe some HO get carried away with all the BS "been reading to much into what is posted here" You know the most important part of anyone's credentials that I might hire to do a job for me is "ATTITUDE" then I go from there, why don't you call the FBI and get a complete background check on them they may have forgot to turn on the gas stop on a new install and the HO may have reported them because when they tried the heat it would not work. My advise to you would be look to your heart first because even the very best service company's are only as good as the "man doing your job", and quit reading so much into what you see here! yes this site can be of a great starting point and but if your looking for someone else to blame if some of the advise your receive here is responsible for an install gone wrong go for it, but God gave you a mind and to keep it healthy you must use it, and remember just because the sales pitch is got you thinking the guy is an angel right out of heaven remember what the Bible says about wolfs in sheep's clothing go with instinct.
    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” –Albert Einstein
    “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”-Vernon Law

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    46

    References and calculations

    Just the act of asking for references will produce a reaction from the person doing the estimate, be watchful and observant to what that reaction is. As for the Manual J heat loss and gain calculations, these are time consuming and usually unnecessary for retrofits, however I am usually happy to oblige if the customer decides on using my company. After many years of pulling out old equipment and installing new, I can usually tell what a house needs enough to give a customer a good price on equipment. If, after doing the calculations I find I am off a half ton or a few btu's the price I quoted origially rarely changes. Additionally, I find an educated consumer to be the best customer, and will spend extra time bringing a home owner up to speed on anything they aren't familiar with.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    257
    Ask for the references but more to see what the reaction that he gives you is, if there is any hesitation, you can scratch that company off your list. No company will offer a reference that will be other than 5 stars.

    It won't hurt one bit to let them know what your expectations are. Consider it to be forewarning to them.

    If you are not having any comfort issues the heat loss/gain calculation may not be of importance but there are differences in the capacity curves of the various manufacturers equipment that will sometimes create problems when you take the attitude that 3 tons of brand X will do the exact same job as 3 tons of brand Y. It's not unusual to find a brand that will provide 3 tons capacity at 90 degrees and another that won't provide 3 tons til the outdoor temperature hits 100 degrees.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,604
    Personally I like being asked. We have done the work for the areas number one and very particular Custom home bldger and rental property owner, he has a great rep himself for many yrs and so it's always been a feather in my cap to be able to use that ref.
    I do not participate in bidding wars either and if I find out on the phone that anymore than 3 bids are being sought just for an average job I am straight up front and decline the offer. (And tell them why if they ask)

    My experience the HO with 4,5 or 6 estimates gets so bombarded with various info., confusion sets in and then by the time I get there Im asked to decipher every other contractors comments OR there is a price war being set up OR HO looking for the cheapest to get by.

    I dont care what Breed of equipment, search out a reputable Co. that does the best Installation and Svc.
    "The Bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    505
    I can honestly say in 25 years i never had a customer ask for references or a certificate of insurance unless it was a contractor. We have been in business over 40 years though and have a good rep in the area.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Houston,Tx.
    Posts
    15,505
    Originally posted by heaterman61
    I can honestly say in 25 years i never had a customer ask for references or a certificate of insurance unless it was a contractor. We have been in business over 40 years though and have a good rep in the area.

    I can relate to that, about the same here.
    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” –Albert Einstein
    “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”-Vernon Law

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    76
    Originally posted by frank shelley
    I do not participate in bidding wars either and if I find out on the phone that anymore than 3 bids are being sought just for an average job I am straight up front and decline the offer. (And tell them why if they ask)
    [/B]
    Keep in mind an educated customer may have trouble getting good bids.

    It took me 12 estimates to get 3 that would do a ManJ and ManD. On a house with electric baseboard, so no equipment to replace. Sizing from 3 to 8 tons. (4 was right)

    When you're calling around you get the gambit of everything from "You want to commercial package units with all your duct work run on the outside of the house.", "You should hire us because we're union." (Note: I don't care about the union / non-union thing, he had no other reasons.), or the guy who lowers the price right there to get you to sign. And my favorite guy who tried to get me to sign the contract telling me "Its just an acknowledgement you got the bid, I need to show my boss."

    Sometimes its not price shopping, its anti-idiot shopping, and it can be hard.

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