Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There are contractors and then there are contractors

I am replacing the heating and air conditioning systems in my new house so I've visited now with 5 different contractors.

The problem actually is that the under-slab ductwork has been compromised by water and the best solution is to run new ducts overhead and seal up the old. The mechanical equipment was actually replaced in 2001 and is in pretty good shape.

Four of the contractors quoted me pretty much the same way with some minor differences in brands. This includes new compressors and air handlers and the latter would be installed horizontally in the attic. All contractors were competent and had good references and the prices quoted were within an approximate 20% spread. Closer than that if I ignored the very lowest quote.

But the first contractor I visited is different. I thought I was contacting someone else in fact but accidentally called the fellow that came out. I liked him when I met him and he spent quite a bit of time with me.

His quote was quite different from the others. The first thing was that he delivered his in person and he had rather carefully written it out on a sheet of the architectural plan I'd given him. I asked him if he needed it or if I could keep it and he said "Not unless I do the job and I'll come up with the same thing if I have to do it again." The others all emailed or faxed their computer generated quotes. But his quote was actually more complete and informational than the others because he showed me on the plans where he was running the ducts and setting the equipment.

And he installed his equipment upright in the attic. I asked about that and he said "well, you have plenty of attic height and it is easier and safer to install vertically." He elaborated that he could get a good pan around a vertical unit to catch possible leaks and while he could do that with a horizontal unit it would not be as good. Also he is running the duct work out of the top of the unit and up near the roof whereas everyone else was running along the ceiling. He said he didn't like having to walk over ducts in his attic and so he wanted to get mine out of the way for me as well. And I had enough attic height to accommodate what he wanted to do.

But the big thing was that he had selected air handlers that could be used with my existing compressors. It is done with some kind of valve that lets the inside unit accommodate a range of efficiencies in the outside unit.

At any rate his price was about 1/2 the price of the others.

I think he is providing a better job, too, both long and short term.

I was thinking that everyone looked at the same set of facts and 4 of 5 saw the same problem and the same solution.


~Betsy said...

It sounds to me as if this guy puts himself in the place of his clients. I like that in a person. He takes his time and puts some thought into the project. I'll bet he'd do business on a handshake, too - a long forgotten tradition.

Good luck with your project.

nancy said...

from what you described the first guy's proposal makes sense. plus i really like the personal touch and interaction. those types of people/businesses are becoming fewer and harder to find.

good luck to you!

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

There's nothing like a handwritten explanation of work, the time taken to explain the reasoning, and the personal hand delivering of the plans. Sounds like this gentleman has his priorities in order. Good luck with the remodeling, Terry.

Lori1955 said...

Wow, it's so nice to know there are still good honest people out there. I'm glad you found one!

*(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

So hard to find good honest people out there anymore who don't try to take you for your last penny.

Would love to see some remodeling pics if you get a chance.