Choose a Contractor Based on Skills
Not Just Price
We all want a good deal with service contractors, but when it comes to heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC), industry watchers say there is too much at stake to rely on the cost estimate alone.
The systems are complex & they need to be installed & serviced by educated, licensed tradespeople. If not, you might put the mechanical functioning at risk, & end up spending fare more in the long run.
Most agree that an exceedingly low bid is cause for alarm. It could be that the contractor doesn't understand the scope of the work & is underestimating the amount of time & materials needed. Worse yet, he or she might be intentionally cutting corners by using inferior materials or not following industry & government guidelines. Requests for follow-up service could be ignored, & things might break down long before they should, adding to the overall cost & inconvenience.
According the the Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), their member companies are regularly called upon to repair the shoddy work of contractors who lured in unsuspecting consumers with impossible low quotes. It means that the incredible deal you got on a new furnace didn't end up being such a great deal after all.
To protect yourself & your home, be sure to get more than one quote so you fully understand the cost parameters of the service in question. Insist that contractors quote you for exactly the same service in each case. Some contractors are known to intentionally give bids for something slightly different from competitors so you can't do a straight comparison.
Beware of companies who provide quotes without an onsite visit, or those who scribble a figure on the back of their business card. In the case of a new AC unit, it is impossible to provide an accurate quote without visiting the home & doing a sizing (heat gain/heat loss) assessment. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misinforming you.
A professional contractor will provide a thorough, written breakdown of services, & a firm dollar value for each. Make sure you understand what is included in the quote - & what isn't. Some contractors present an attractive, low offer, only to push up the price by adding services or components later. Inquire whether there might be additional payments tied to the job; if necessary get confirmation in writing that there won't be.
In the end, the best way to avoid poor service is to deal with a licensed, insured professional with the right technical qualifications. Ask the contractor if they have the appropriate licence, and if necessary request to see it. They should also have property damage and public liability insurance.
Alternatively, turn to HRAI for guidance, say the organization. All HRAI members have been pre-screened & have the required trade licenses, technical certifications and insurance coverage.
Please feel free to contact me regarding this article or about any real estate needs or questions that you may have. Call me at 416-804-0991 (client line) or 416-441-2888 ext 266 (office) or email for more information.