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  1. #1

    Confused Frustrated with Contractor bids

    Help. I have two-zones for HVAC -- upstairs and down. The upstairs 2 ton heat pump is now 16 years old and all the refrigerant has leaked out (again). So rather than replace it, I thought I'd just put in a new system (since the old one will probably die. I'm willing to pay for higher efficiency.

    So I've gotten 3 contractor bids. The first was straightforward but for a Carrier 16 SEER system, but when I called to ask for their estimate on the 19 SEER Infinity model, they never called back.

    The second was for the Carrier 19 SEER system, but was $ more than the other contractor's estimate. That doesn't seem reasonable to me. In addition, they were not proposing to change the line set, though I told the estimator that the reason I was replacing the system was that there was a leak in the system. Plus, since I'm changing refrigerants, replacing the line set seems important.

    Third estimate, I asked for the 19 SEER system (again). The contractor came back with a reasonable estimate, but for the 16 SEER system (about the same as the first estimate). When I called to ask why it wasn't for the 19 SEER system, he apologized and said that he assumed I wouldn't want to pay more for it. (How clearly do I need to spell this out???) So he sent me a new estimate for the Bryant (Carrier-equivalent) 19 SEER system, but for a 3-ton system. (My current heat pump and the other two estimates were for 2-ton systems.) When I emailed back asking why a 3-ton system and for an estimate for the 2-ton system, I never got a reply.

    Am I being unreasonable to think that (1) the contractors aren't being careful with their estimates in giving me what I'm asking for, (2) not needing to expand to a 3 ton system without a good reason (my old system worked fine), and (3) that an almost $ for to go from the 16 SEER to the 19 SEER system is excessive?

    Please advise me. This has been going on for 2 months now, between waiting for on-site consultations and estimates, plus follow-up questions to estimates.
    Last edited by beenthere; 08-17-2011 at 10:38 PM. Reason: prices

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SE Washington
    Posts
    517

    3 points your pondering

    All of the contractors should do a manual j load calc 1st and foremost, alot can happen in a house over 16 years, such as new low e windows, ect., goiing a full ton in size up when your telling them the old one worked fine is unreasonable, as is a $ discrepancy between the 16 seer and the 19, Carriers new greenspeed is the only unit I know of thats intentionally sized bigger because of its ability to vari its output to demand. its a 20 seer unit with an average hspf of 13!, you almost dont need back up resistance heat, just to temper during defrost in most cases. Sounds like your not beiing listened too, and that they are not beiing responsive to your questions. good luck
    Last edited by beenthere; 08-17-2011 at 10:38 PM. Reason: price

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    568
    some times a contractor just don't want to get involved with some potential customers who want bids for ex.
    1 for a 13 seer
    1 for a 13 seer with a variable motor
    1 for a 13 seer with a zone pack
    1 for a 14 seer unit
    1 for a 14 seer unit with a variable speed motor
    1 for a 15 seer unit
    1 for a 15 seer unit with a variabl speed motor
    1 for a 15 seer unit with a zone pack
    1 for a 16 seer unit single stage
    1 for a 16 seer unit with a variable speed motor plus a zone pack plus a space guard filter,or a price on a electronic air cleaner,or UV lights
    or a price leaving a line set in as compared to changing a line set
    1 for a 19 seer unit with variable speed motor,with a special air cleaner,with and with out changing line sets,with or with out 10 year part and labor warranty.
    1 for a 16 seer unit with a variabl speed motor
    or maybe if a potential customer may like a price on a carrier, then maybe on a lennox, or maybe a goodman,or maybe a arco-aire with similar features as above. then maybe asking aroud may decide to get prices on mini splits with 26 seer units as compared with mini splits with 20 seer units as compared to basic 13 seer split systems, then may want to know to know why different pprices between different mfg's and different contractors
    there may be a lot of reasons why some contractors may just want to offer a limited selection on units they'll put in, me, i'm really not sure, good luck!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Albuquerque NM
    Posts
    2,484
    If you want to get more frustrated, just ask a few more contractors.

    If you want a new lineset, ask that it be listed in the quote and the invoice. I was told I would get a new lineset, but the guys showed up with what looked like old pieces of left-over lineset that had been left out in the weather for a while.

    Don't trust the installers to do what the guy who give you the quote says they will do. Trust, but verify.

    Don't let them upsize you if 2-ton units were working fine.

    Don't worry as much about the cost as the quality of the installation.

    If you are committed to 19 SEER, then make that very clear. If they're quoting you on 16 SEER because they don't know how to do 19 properly or don't want to do it, walk away.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    georgia
    Posts
    562
    I feel your pain. Took me about 12 tries just to get three quotes. Most never even called me back after initial contact.

    Remember that its your house and system, and that they work for you -- not the other way around. If you want something done a specific way or something replaced then it needs to be specified in the quote. If a contractor doesnt want to take the time to provide an acceptable quote for your job what would be your expectations of their finished product?

    The cooling season is coming to an end. There'll be a gap here when they will be needing business before heating season kicks in. Use your time wisely.

    See if there are any local contractors listed on Angie's List, Kudzu, Yelp -- also check Twitter as folks tweet about contractors now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Toledo, Ohio, United States
    Posts
    12,910
    Quote Originally Posted by MM#7 View Post
    some times a contractor just don't want to get involved with some potential customers who want bids for ex.
    1 for a 13 seer
    1 for a 13 seer with a variable motor
    1 for a 13 seer with a zone pack
    1 for a 14 seer unit
    1 for a 14 seer unit with a variable speed motor
    1 for a 15 seer unit
    1 for a 15 seer unit with a variabl speed motor
    1 for a 15 seer unit with a zone pack
    1 for a 16 seer unit single stage
    1 for a 16 seer unit with a variable speed motor plus a zone pack plus a space guard filter,or a price on a electronic air cleaner,or UV lights
    or a price leaving a line set in as compared to changing a line set
    1 for a 19 seer unit with variable speed motor,with a special air cleaner,with and with out changing line sets,with or with out 10 year part and labor warranty.
    1 for a 16 seer unit with a variabl speed motor
    or maybe if a potential customer may like a price on a carrier, then maybe on a lennox, or maybe a goodman,or maybe a arco-aire with similar features as above. then maybe asking aroud may decide to get prices on mini splits with 26 seer units as compared with mini splits with 20 seer units as compared to basic 13 seer split systems, then may want to know to know why different pprices between different mfg's and different contractors
    there may be a lot of reasons why some contractors may just want to offer a limited selection on units they'll put in, me, i'm really not sure, good luck!
    Twilly says
    No Heat No Cool You need Action Fast

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    198
    Quote Originally Posted by wannaB-efficientDC View Post
    Help. I have...
    ...Please advise me. This has been going on for 2 months now, between waiting for on-site consultations and estimates, plus follow-up questions to estimates.
    I would encourage you to communicate clearly to every contractor exactly what you want done ( it should be the same to each contractor)and have them price the 19 SEER system you're looking for.

    One problem I see is, I can't see your HVAC systems, therefore I can't see what another Professional might be seeing. Most times we give estimates based on what we see will need to be done during the installation. This sorta makes it hard from your standpoint if I didn't spell out what I am planning to do during the equipment change-out (on my quote, SO ASK THEM) and can account for some variations in prices.

    I've lost jobs to the low bidder, just to be called in to fix it after Mr.Low Ball Flubbed it Up and didn't come back, so don't go with Mr. Low Ball

    If you want it right and are willing to give it Due-Diligence, you will get it right!

    Frosted

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    1,951
    Quote Originally Posted by garya505 View Post
    If you are committed to 19 SEER, then make that very clear. If they're quoting you on 16 SEER because they don't know how to do 19 properly or don't want to do it, walk away.
    ^^^ Times a million, I am in a great heat pump climate area yet many of my competitors don't do heat pumps and dont' bid them because they don't know how to do it right and they usually mess it up and it costs more money for them to sell a top of the line unit. Find somebody who has installed a lot of these, call around and ask how many, ask if they will provide you with refrences. I take a video of high end systems after install and have the customer talk about their expereince on camera so when somebody is looking at my Trane XL20i system they know I do more of these than anybody in my area and that I am the expert. It sounds like you just have not found the expert.

    What area of the country do you live in?
    Check out my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/skyheating1 We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
    Like us on FACEBOOK if you like our advice here!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Winston-Salem NC
    Posts
    1,133
    Call three contractors, ask for good, better and best bids.
    Brand is far, far less important than design and install.

    Odds are, a good contractor will give you good, better best and if any bid from the three is off, ask why.
    Why are you "x" higher or lower?

    Customers telling me what kind of equipment they "have to have" is usually a good indication I need to move on down the road.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Metro Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    475
    If you're determined to get a Carrier 19 SEER Infinty unit, why not go to Carrier's website and do a zipcode search for a factory authorized dealer? Explain to them up front what exactly you're looking for so there's no confusion when it comes to the quote.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    georgia
    Posts
    562
    Quote Originally Posted by FlyersFan View Post
    If you're determined to get a Carrier 19 SEER Infinty unit, why not go to Carrier's website and do a zipcode search for a factory authorized dealer? Explain to them up front what exactly you're looking for so there's no confusion when it comes to the quote.
    Do those really mean anything or are they just paid spots or "earned" by $ of equipment sold?

    I had better luck asking for local contractors at my local HVAC distributor. If you are interested in a particular brand, find the local distributor for them then make a visit.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
    Posts
    2,361
    The 16 SEER is in the sweet spot for return on investment and comfort. The 19 Seer system is very good but very pricey. Are you prepared to pay 50% more to go from 16 to 19 SEER?

    Contractors get jerked around a lot on "free" estimates. That is the point of Post 3. The contractor's time is in short supply and I understand why they find themselves too busy to follow up with shoppers in the summertime.

    We contractors have all had experiences where we bent over backwards to bid the work exactly as the prospect requested only to lose the job. When we go back to see why, we see that the job was done far differently than requested because another contractor dropped a low price and the customer bought it. Is that right? No. But it is a reality that we contractors deal with every day.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
    Mark Twain
    More at: http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/education/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Littleton, Co
    Posts
    54
    I can relate to your story, I probably have more time into getting and straightening out bids than the contractor will spend putting the equipment in. I really don't think that I'm being picky at all. When they put something in the bid, or leave it out, I want to get it clarified. I don't ask for it in writing unless I'm ready to sign. Three of the Four bids I've received included 4 different "scenarios", all included upgrades that I wasn't interested in, i.e. steam humidifiers, electronic air filters, etc... I have never questioned their prices, it just seems like they have no interest in making money.

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