How To Hire A Contractor
Date Posted: May 27, 2021
Installing a residential heating, cooling or ventilation system can be a complex process that requires thoughtful consideration. One of the homeowner's first tasks is to determine how to hire a qualified heating contractor. The following information will assist homeowners in hiring contractors and in understanding their system choices.
Ask for Quality First™!
Quality First™ is the trademark for all TECA training courses and products. Quality First™ training courses provide contractors, designers and other industry members with minimum guidelines for the professional installation of quality heating, cooling and ventilation systems. A Quality First™ trained contractor has the necessary knowledge and documents to meet the requirements of regulatory officials and to protect both his customer and the equipment he installs. View names of all current Quality First™ trained personnel in the Quality First™ Trained Contractor section.
TECA members include heating, cooling and ventilating contractors from all over BC. View Members by region and occupation. Read our Code of Conduct.
Remember when shopping for a heating contractor that you will get what you pay for! There will always be someone who will give you a lower price on a heating system installation, so cost should never be the determining factor in choosing a contractor. Get price bids from at least three contractors. Discuss system options.
1. For how long have you been in business?
There is no substitute for longevity in any business. Well established contractors have proven their ability to provide a good product and also satisfy the needs of their customers. They will more likely be able answer the following questions as well.
2. Are you a licensed contractor?
All contractors require business licenses in the City they are working in. All contractors are required to pay appropriate Work Safe BC premiums for their employees.
If a Contractor is hiring personnel who are acting as private contractors, these personnel also need to prove coverage by Work Safe BC.
Make sure you know to whom you are contracting and who is going to be performing the work. You may be signing a contract with one company who may subcontract the work out to a second company with whom you have no legal relationship. This can make the first company not liable for any issues and you may have no legal power over the subcontracted company.
3. Are you a member of a trade association or the Better Business Bureau? (BBB).
Contractors who belong to trade associations are usually more up-to-date regarding current standards and training. Belonging to a trade organization shows interest and pride in their industry.
Eg. TECA, CIPH, CGC, HRAC, MCA, PRC 'Program Registered Contractor', ….
4. Do you service the work that you install?
Servicing of heating and cooling systems is of paramount importance. Find a contractor with whom you can establish a long-term relationship. Establishing a long-term relationship with a contractor means the contractor knows that he is going to have to service the recommendations he makes to you. This makes the contractor think twice before recommending service procedures or equipment because they know that they will need to deal with any issues that arise from the previous installation or service work.
5. Is your staff trained to do this work?
Are your installers trained to install the products they are installing? Either, through a trade course or through a manufacturers specific training. What trade qualifications do your staff possess? What training courses have your installers taken. What TECA courses have your installers taken? Who in the company did the design work for the installation? Who performed the CSA F280 – Heat Loss / Heat Gain calculation? Who is going to be supervising new trainees?
Examples of training that is available:
TECA- Forced Air Guidelines. Required to design and evaluate forced air duct sizing.
TECA- Ventilation guidelines. Required to size and install appropriately, residential ventilation systems.
TECA- Heat Loss / Heat Gain. Required to perform CSA f280, heat loss calculations. Or equivalent.
TECA- Hydronic Design. Required to design and evaluate hydronic heating systems.
TECA- HRV course. Required to design and install total systems for 'Heat Recovery Ventilators' or 'Energy Recovery Ventilators'.
TECA- 'Air to Water Heat pump course'. 'Municipal Heat Pump Course'. Required for the design and installation of an Air to Water heat pump.
TECA- Air to Air Heat Pump course.
HPSC- Quality installation of Forced Air Furnaces and Air Source Heat Pumps
6. Could you please provide referrals from previous customers who had similar work performed?
7. What Brands of equipment do you handle?
Different brands of equipment have different qualities. Try to chose equipment that best serves your needs. Ask, if the recommended equipment meets the efficiencies necessary to claim the desired incentive grant? (If there is one available for your installation)
Note. Within a manufacturers range of equipment there is frequently a range of models available with differing scopes of efficiency, and warrantees. Make sure you understand what is being offered and if it meets your expectations. It has been known for contractors to try and sell a client a product which they still have too many of in stock or for which they can get a good deal from the wholesaler but this may not be the best product for your application.
8. What documentation will they provide you?
Documents required prior to the commencement of any work.
A. Proof of a current Business license
B. Proof of Work Safe BC coverage by/for those who are performing the installation.
C. If any gas fitting work is going to be performed the following minimum documents need to be provided by your contractor: (This applies to any replacement, addition of, removal or alteration to a gas appliance, or any alterations to existing gas piping.)
- Proof of Gas permit
- Proof of Gas contractors license.
- Gas fitter Trade Qualification number. TQ#.
(All of this information may be on the gas permit or it may need to be provided separately.)
D. If a heat pump or Air Conditioner is being installed.
- Electrical permit. If a heat pump or air conditioner is being installed or replaced an electrical permit will be required.
- Refrigerant handling certification number, (Environmental Awareness Course on Ozone Depleting Substances)
E. A completed Heat Gain / Heat Loss calculation for your home. This calculation must be performed utilizing CSA F280 principles and gives a heat loss and Heat gain calculation for each room of the home. (Note. The installed system should be capable of successfully servicing 'All' of the rooms in the home.)
F. A completed copy of the appropriate TECA 'Appliance Retro-Fit worksheet.' (For the installation of a replacement furnace or a 'Ducted' Heat Pump system.
In order for an individual or a company to perform any gas fitting work they need to be a registered and licensed contractor with Technical Safety B.C. A stipulation of being a licensed gas contractor means that they must be the holder of a performance Bond which is registered with Technical Safety B.C.
If any gas equipment is being replaced, relocated, disconnected or if any alterations are being performed on any gas piping, a gas permit is needs to be issued by Technical Safety B.C. or the local government with jurisdiction.
If you are having a furnace replaced or a heat pump installed, the installing contractor must perform a 'Room by Room' Heat Loss / Heat Gain Calculation for your home. This document will allow the installer to choose an appliance that best matches the heating and cooling loads for your home. It will also allow the installing contractor to best asses the sizing of the existing ductwork to confirm that it will allow enough air to get to each room to successfully heat or cool that room. If the ductwork is not large enough then there may need to be alterations made to the ductwork. This should be provided prior to the commencement of any work. If you are not having any air conditioning installed then you do not require to have a Heat Gain calculation performed.
Documents required after the installation is finished.
A. Owner manuals for all equipment
B. Installation manual for all equipment
C. Any appropriate operating instructions that are relevant to the safe and economical operation of the installed system.
D. A completed and signed manufacturers commissioning sheet and or a completed Commissioning sheet as required by an 'installation grant provider.' (FortisBC, BC Hydro, HPSC or Clean BC.)
E. Names and telephone numbers of those responsible for any service issues.
F. A verification from the inspecting authority that the installation has been inspected and has passed.
- This will apply for all installations that require an installation permit.
i. Gas permit, for any alterations, changes of equipment, or disconnections of equipment.
ii. Electrical permit for any installation or relocation of wiring going to a Heat Pump, Air Conditioning unit or any other appliance (other than a furnace) that requires the connection of 110-volt or 220-volt power to it.