Winter is here again, and most people would agree that it is the season where you may most need to contact an HVAC professional for maintenance and repairs on your heating system. Whether you need a large or small repair, or an entire HVAC replacement, a professional contractor can explain all your options. Below is a list of 10 factors to consider when hiring such an individual, as well as several things to avoid:
Choosing a Contractor by Word of Mouth
The best way to find an HVAC contractor to complete quality work in a friendly and professional manner, is to ask neighbors and friends for a word-of-mouth referral. You may also search for positive reviews online.
The Company’s Fleet
Contractors who drive old, dirty, unmarked vehicles are likely to treat your dwelling in a similar way. Additionally, such contractors may be desperate for business or in need of quick money. This may lead to future problems if a warrantee must be fulfilled or a substandard repair was completed. You are better off choosing a company that has well-maintained, clean, clearly designated company trucks.
Make Sure the Company Has a Physical Address
Even if a contractor operates from a home office, a physical address is a must. Moonlighters and fly-by-night’s who do not stick around to stand behind their work often operate from cell phones and provide no actual address. Go to the company’s website, and be wary if no physical address is shown. It is unwise to pay for work that may never be completed or find that there is no one to contact if future problems arise.
Hire Only Professional and Neat Company Employees
Businesses that are professional typically insist on clean, neat, workers who are willing to wear company uniforms. Fly-by-night operators are far more likely to show up in dirty T-shirts and jeans. The contractors at reliable and trustworthy HVAC companies are far more likely to arrive in a uniform with proper ID, as well as a professional attitude.
Employees Versus Subcontractors
Determining whether or not someone is an employee or subcontractor is extremely important. Repairman who worked as subcontractors are usually always paid on a commission basis. It does not matter if it is a car mechanic, plumber, electrical contractor or other type of worker, commission based repairman are paid a commission based on the total amount of funds collected from the homeowner. This ultimately means that the more repairs the person completes, the larger his earnings will be. There is certainly nothing wrong with a contractor earning his or her money, but when the person earns a percentage of the entire job, it may encourage him or her to sell unnecessary repairs to unsuspecting customers.
Equipment the Brands
Manufacturers of well-known brands are selective about the employees they hire to sell and install various pieces of equipment. Always try to find a reliable company or contractor based on technical efficiency as well as customer service scores that are exceptionally high.
Top-notch contractors typically use what is referred to as flat rate pricing. This type of service pricing is more fair to customers because it guarantees that each person pays the same price for identical repairs. Therefore, clock watching is not necessary, because the customer is paying a specific amount for a particular job. For this reason, whether the technician works fast or slow, the bottom line price does not change. This is a much better alternative than the old-fashioned “time and materials” pricing method. Always ask for estimates that are preprinted in a pricing guide featuring regional standards.
Qualified, professional contractors who have complete confidence in their work usually provide the best warranties. More guarantees are typically provided and honored by HVAC companies that are the most reputable.
Making Sure the Contractor is Licensed
Licensing should be a minimum requirement when you are searching for contractor. Your HVAC system should never be worked on by an unlicensed individual. If no license is provided, this should be considered a red flag, as state law requires that a license number appear on all websites and any printed solicitations.
Only Hire Fully Insured Contractors
If an uninsured contractor sustains harm on your property, you may end up having to pay his or her medical bills. Contractors who are reputable will not hesitate to offer copies of their workers compensation insurance and general liability insurance. If the business uses subcontractors, you should request copies of their individual documents. Such information should be offered upon request.
Never Make a Decision Based on Price
Cheap contractors often cut corners, and this ends up being a costly situation for you as the homeowner. Therefore, although it is certainly recommended that you compare several estimates before making a final choice, never make a decision based on price alone.
Do Not Simply Choose From the Yellow Pages
If you open the Yellow Pages and make an instant selection, it is similar to throwing a dart. You may find a good contractor, but you may not. Additionally, companies that take out large spreads in the Yellow Pages typically have to recoup their money by visiting that cost on their customers. For this reason, you can increase your chances of locating a reputable business if you select from contractors who use modest size ads. However, the Yellow Pages should still be your last resort.
Avoid Companies With No Track Record
All companies must begin somewhere. However, new HVAC businesses tend to fail on a regular basis. In reality, one in five HVAC companies closes its doors or declares bankruptcy annually. For this reason, customers who have purchased extended labor warranties from such a business may have a difficult time if they need to utilize the warranty for any reason. The best indication that a business will survive long-term, at least long enough to honor any obligations regarding warranties, is its track record. HVAC companies that have sustained their business for a minimum of seven years are more apt to be stable, as they have had enough time to overcome business mistakes, risks and uncertainties.