The ratio of bad contractors to good is probably 20 to 1. So if you blindly called you'd need 20 estimates. But if you narrowed it down by doing a little pre-screening then maybe you found a good one out of the seven.
Of course I define contractors that just go along to get along as being bad. They may put in OK stuff that works. But mediocrity is their way of life. Manual D & J are alien concepts. Custom engineering the diffuser selection for proper throw to each room is a few too many syllables for them. And the only thing "air balancing" means to them is having all four tires inflated to the same pressure.
If you're just a cheapskate looking to get something for nothing from a desperate contractor willing to work for minimum wage then you'll get what you deserve. But if you're looking for that one in twenty contractor that actually knows how to make a kick a** system then get 7 more bids if you have too! I'm right there with you.
They can't make R-22 equipment after 2010 and they can't make the R-22 refrigerant after 2020. Existing stock will be around for a long time after that. And drop in replacements will be available. At this exact moment there's no clear advantage to getting an R22 system or a R410A system. They both have pros and cons. But as it stands I think R22 equipment is still the higher volume product by quite a bit.
50 or 60 feet is not a problem. In some cases a suction line will need to be made one size bigger to compensate for distance. But that would most likely be true only if the current line is already a bit on the small side.
[Edited by Irascible on 06-08-2005 at 09:10 AM]