You’ve probably heard stories about homeowners getting ripped off by a contractor or repairman. It’s the reason websites like Angie’s List and Yelp are so successful. It is one way homeowners can find reputable contractors to hire for home repairs. Another way to protect yourself from being taken advantage of is to educate yourself about what to look for in a repairman’s price quote for a particular job.
In some instances, it’s not that the contractor is being necessarily dishonest, but to close the deal they probably aren’t showing all of their cards. It is a marketing tactic that is used in many industries. For example, the automotive industry does something similar in just about all of their commercials. They show you a beautiful car and tell you the base price of the car. But when you go into the dealership to buy the car you realize that if you expect luxuries like FM radio and heat, you will have to pay much more than the price in the commercial.
Some contractors will try to use the same tactics when they are quoting you a price for home repairs. They give you a low price to get you to agree to the work, but fail to mention that the final price could be higher due to labor or parts or a variety of other factors. Below we’ve listed some tips to help make sure you get fair quotes and avoid surprise billing. A lot of the tips apply specifically to the HVAC industry, but the ideas can be translated to other services.
- Size of the new equipment – Your quote for a new air conditioner should include the exact equipment that is being installed and it should be appropriate for the space you are expecting to cool. A quick reference is it takes 1 ton of cooling for every 1200 square feet.
- Replace your heater at the same time? – It may be suggested, if you are replacing your air conditioner that you also replace your heater. This might seem like the contractor is just trying to up sell you, but the truth is replacing both units will probably save you money in the long run because a newer furnace will run much more efficiently than your old one. You will also save in labor costs because you won’t have to have the repair man out twice and it will also give you peace of mind not having to wonder how much life is left in your old heater.
- S.E.E.R. Rating – Your quote for an air conditioner installation should include the SEER Rating of the unit. This rating is the performance standard that has been developed by the U.S. government and equipment manufacturer’s to produce an energy consumption rating that is easy to understand by consumers. Newer A/C models will typically have a rating of 12, 13, 14 or higher. By contrast an A/C system prior to 1990 would have a rating of about 6. So today’s units are at least two times more efficient than older systems.
- Labor – All labor should be included on the quote. Any work that will be necessary to insure proper installation should always be listed. When we write a quote we do our absolute best to predict all of the labor that will be involved for installation, but sometimes we miss something. In that case, we consider it our mistake and do not charge the customer for additional time.
- Warranty Options – If an extended warranty is offered, the cost and details of the warranty should be included on the customer’s quote.
- Extras – The contractor should list any additional materials, taxes or mileage charges they foresee being necessary for the job.
Hopefully these tips will help protect you and insure accurate billing the next time you have to call on an HVAC repairman. If you have any other things you watch for on service estimates, feel free to let us know in the comment section below.
Just In Time Heating and Air Conditioning is based in Sandwich, IL and offers climate control solutions for residential customers. Their products and services include heating, air conditioning, humidification, indoor air quality and air duct cleaning. The company can be contacted at 815-570-2244 or via email at email@example.com.