Let me first say, I have been lurking for some time on this board and today I posed my first question and recieved a prompt reply...thank you.
Now to my rant....over the last month or so I have been screening contractors in attempt to get a entire heat pump system installed in my home in southeast Pennsylvania. I need ductwork and all in a 1700 sf bilevel home.....no big deal. No unreasonable requests. System to be installed in the attic. I want metal duct runs with limited flex ductwork, R-8 insulation, a 14 SEER/8.40 HSPF or better unit with variable speed airhandler, programmable thermostat, an Aprilaire 2200 media filter and 2 returns..one upstairs, one downstairs witht the downstairs return having to be run through a closet with a false floor (which I will install). Thats it. Nothing strange.
I have literally contacted 15 contractors for bids. Out of those 15, 6 decided not to provide a quote (they either didnt show up for the scheduled "project look see", or simply did not submit a proposal after seeing the project....they got work? they didnt like the job? I dont know.....mind you, they didnt tell me they would not submit a proposal, I had to call and ask why they didnt submit anything after two or three weeks went by). Other results of the contractor selection process.....one proposal came through without company name, address, phone or contact so you couldnt tell who it was from (absolutely amazing), one was compelted onsite and obviously incomplete because the sales guy just didnt want to spend more than 15 minutes in my house (Home Depot), 2 had errors in their pricing, and several never even specified specific equipment or insulation levels which were gonna be used. Calls placed to several contractor to ask questions or emails sent out were not returned by in 2 out of 2 cases. In all honesty, I got one, 1, uno written proposal which I would have considered to be responsive, professional, addressed my concerns, etc. but when I called to speak about it and left a message, they never called back.
Just to make sure you folks dont flame me, I contacted some of what are considered the more reputable firms in my area as well as some independent contractors. And just so you dont think I am a complete idiot, I actually provided the contractors with a spec sheet of what I was looking for and what they should "explain/address" in their written proposal. For example, I told them to include permits at a cost of $125.00. Do you think any of them included the fees for the permits? Only one did!
I am sorry, but there is something seriously wrong with the HVAC trade. Sales people that came to look at my project did nothing to sell me anything! They couldnt explain squat. Written proposals for a $8000 to $9500 project consist of about 50 words which apparently are written purposely vague on many issues. When you start questioning the contractor for details, he doenst wish to take the time to explain and he gives me the distinct impression that I am a pain in his ass. Holy crap, you want me to drop $9000 and you wont take 15 minutes to talk to me! I ask for revised written proposals to address specific concerns and suddenly the air handler changes in capacity by 9000 btus, the SEER rating drops .075 units but the price remains the same. Payment terms include 50% down (ok, I can do that) and then 50% on SUBSTAINTIAL completion. WTF is substaintial completion? I never heard of such. Its either complete or its not!
All I can say is this trade has some serious problems. The standard of care which seems to be employed, at least in my area and in my opinion, is pretty darn low. I am business owner myself and all I can say is that a contractor who is truly professional in his sales, follow up, customer service and is reasonable in his pricing would make a killing in the HVAC trade in this area. I cannot believe what I have gone through in attemp to select a HVAC contractor, and in all honesty, at this point, I think I have just wasted 1 months efforts and burned up most of the contractors in my immediate area. But then again, if the contractors I contacted are representative of the trade, maybe I will just install a campfire ring in my basement for heat, and employ a small asian girl with a waving palm leaf for cooling purposes.
I am simply amazing at how crappy sales, proposals, and customer service are for this trade! This is just my experience and my opinion for my area.