I'm convinced after having five (maybe three if Sears and Home Depot don't count) installers look at my replacement installation that they simply don't want to spend the time to do it right. No one has even suggested that they would do a Manual J after award to fine tune the size of the furnace. I told the last installer about a heating problem in a small addition that apparently had not been adequately ducted and he shotgunned two or three "more is better" suggestions for adding ductwork in the attic.
At this point I've decided to pick one that I'm comfortable with who seems to offering a fair price, but tell him he has got to do a Manual J to correctly size the furnace and do do a Manual D (is that the duct calculation?) or equivalent in order to improve my ducting without overkill. I'm more than willing to adjust his estimate based on the results, but I don't want an oversized furnace installed.
Does this seem like a reasonable approach?
We do have a lot of people who bring in 5-6 companies only to buy from the lowest bid, I think some dealers just tend not to put their best into sales calls. Sad but an observation over the years. I'm "retired" from sales at the moment but hear the salesmen complaining all the time that all many customers care about is dollars. Then the salesmen get to where they don't do their best for every customer, not knowing that some really do care about quality.
I think this is more and more industry trend....
Think how p*ss poor many new track houses built.
In and out make most proffit, who cares about consumer.
Consumer always right cost money, finish and run away makes money.
Walmart economy. Builder told me how much he hates high end houses cause they demand quality, and can take you to court.
Track houses is soo much easier: "get it built, make few small fixes".
Look for a contractor who advertises "design and build" or something to that effect and explain your position that you are not shopping on price alone. You will probably find that they may do the calcs upon request but not release the information unless you purchase from them. Far too many have dound that doing all the legwork, and having the size and scope of work outlined, it is given to the every Tom Dick and Harry who quotes the job.
My personal experience in a similar situation has been to have a design engineer specify what needs done and pay him for his specification, then you can provide all the contractors with the information. Otherwise, thats just stealing.
We went to look at a commercial job Monday the guy was converting an old office bldg. into a appliance parts warehouse needed 20 tons of air and all the old stuff demo out 4 old existing nasty, dirty old ductwork and units needed to be taken out, We spent probably over three hrs. at the job site trying to establish the best way to install 4 new 5 ton split systems "Gas Furnaces" to fit his needs, Well gave him a proposal including demo at around 1.8x per ton he said I must be crazy he showed me a bid from some a/c company "Mexican name" won't post name they gave him a bid of 1x per ton including demo, I told him why in the heck didn't you tell me up front that cost was all that mattered to you and you would not have wasted my time or yours and the kicker is if he got a bid for 1x per ton he was thinking that must to high to get other bids this is why we have the attitudes we do about taking a lot of time as we should at your job.
>>>edit... modified pricing
[Edited by jultzya on 11-29-2005 at 08:21 PM]
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards". -Vernon Law-
"Skilled Labor Isn't Cheap, Cheap Labor Isn't Skilled" - Unknown
You still did the right thing, good for you.
Really a salesman (or woman) should qualify the homeowner. Find out what is important and what is not and tailor a system to meet the needs and address percieved needs accordingly.
Just curious. Some questions.
How many square feet?
Where are you located, state is fine?
What size are they recomending?
What size do you have now?
Like I say I'm just curious.
BY the way, on a replacement I probably wouldn't do a Man D just to add a couple runs to an addition.
to start with get away from hd and sears
call some true contractors
if they arent doing a load first and taking into account all of your concerns how can they give you a fair price.
to go with the guy you feel has given a good price will just lead you into a lot of extras before the job is done
it is to bad you have run into this problem but at the same time from the way you talk you are not going to get what you want if you are looking for lowball or midrange price.
get what you want and get a price for eveything sign the contract and relax. anyone can change what you have with the same size but all of you concerns will remain the same.
find someone that will take the time to listen and talk with you and price averything so you know up front what to expect when the job is done. or be willing to put up with the same problems for another 20 years
I'm definitely not looking for a low ball price and the three contractors (in addition to Sears and HD) are all licensed HVAC contractors. All of these contractors would have done a number of ranch homes of comparable size (2200 sq. ft.) and I don't doubt that they have installed 90K - 120K furnaces in every one. I have one rough bid with a firm estimate to follow, one contractor who hasn't supplied a bid two weeks after the walk-through and one fellow who was just out today (but he barely looked at the place). Details follow:
San Jose, CA - very mild climate
Winter design condition is 36 degF and medium daily range
2200 sq. ft. slab home single story
Good (new) windows/double pane obviously
R-13 wall/R-19 ceiling insulation
Good house wrap (new siding and house wrap on 80% of house)
Average infiltration (or better)
HVAC-Calc says 30,000 BTU heat loss, but I've got to check this for errors. I've entered every wall, window and exposed slab perimeter.
I've seen a number of posts which are looking at 100K-120K furnaces in very cold climates, so it's hard to believe that I need a 100K furnace in San Jose.
The only thing I can figure is that the proposal acceptance rate is so low that contractors are unwilling to do the calculation because of the 45 minutes or so to measure and do data entry. I can understand this especially when the average home owner will simply sign on the dotted line.
As I said earlier it seems as though my best approach is to pick a contractor who did spend some time in the house, tell him I want a Manual J calculation done to make certain the furnace is right-sized and get a final bid based on the results. Since I'm probably going for an 80% two-stage furnace I'll make certain the bid includes a good t-stat and ask for some duct repair (one room) and probably an additional duct or duct improvement for an underserved area of the house.
Here's an idea for you. If you want those calcs done cheaply, and right, try contacting the local Community college where they offer HVACR and find out who teaches Equipment Selection, and Duct Design, contact that person, and maybe get a student to do it for credit. It would be a good project for someone.
To be honest, I don't think most companies do a Manual J load calculation on every retrofit job. I took the class, and it was very interesting. You have to have quite a bit of informtion, the program helps, and take a half hour or more to enter and get results. This is a business where time is measured in how many dollars you produce. The guy who spends half a day with you will not be making anything for the company until you decide to buy from them. Also, call your local Chamber of Commerce, and see who they recommend. These folks have a vested interest in the community, and won't scam you. You shouldn't go for the cheapest bid unless you just don't care what kind of job you get. Just some ideas to chew on.
Most times when a unit is put in the installer does not plan to come back and service it.
I overheard a comment regarding the quality of help on the counter at a local wholesale house. The complaint was that the counter people seem to know less and less about what they sell. "In the old days many people at the wholesale houses knew the trade. Now you may as well be standing at the counter of a McDonalds when it comes to product knowledge."was one of the comments.
This got me to thinking. I guess when a majority of the customer base (contractors in this case) are buying by price then low price is all that can be offered. It is the same at any level of the HVAC transaction.
If we want cut rate prices then expect cut rate service. It is a fact of economics.
When I worked in Electrical wholesale we had perhaps 2 accounts that knew more about the trade than our staff did. It always struck me as funny how I had to explain to a guy making 80 bucks an hour how to size and wire a starter when I was making 6 bucks an hour. Now I design software. Now I spend a lot of my time explaining to people who make 300K a year how they should do their job.. I guess the tech trade is just not the place to be :-)