How To Hire A Contractor
Date Posted: September 8, 2017
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.
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.
Consumer 7 Question checklist [click here to print out the 7 Question Installer Checklist »]
1. How long have you been in business? Are they licensed and bonded?
There is no substitute for longevity in any business. Contractors who have remained in business in the same community and under the same name for years have established themselves. They will have a bank of customers who can testify to their reliability. They will be more likely to answer yes to the following questions as well.
2. Are you a member of a trade association?
Contractors who belong to trade organizations have access to up-to-date technical information on training and standards. Belonging to a trade organization shows an interest and pride in their industry. Examples of trade associations.
- TECA is a provincial trade association.
- CIPH, GeoExchange, GCA, HRAC, MCA & SMACNA are national trade associations with BC chapters.
3. Do you have a Service Department to maintain the systems you install?
Servicing of heating systems is of paramount importance. Your heating system is one of the few components of your home that includes operating equipment. Aftermarket service is therefore of greater concern with heating than with any other trade. A contractor who installs a system and does not offer warranty and service contracts is not standing behind his work. You will have no recourse if you have problems in the future.
4. Are your installer employees trained and experienced in the installation of heating systems?
Some contractors employ installers who have sheet metal tickets or have taken Quality First™ or both. Ask how they do business. Do they have site supervisors for untrained employees? Do they have system designers on staff? Do they use recognized heat loss and duct and piping design programs? Are their installers trained and ticketed?
Do not expect your contractor to provide you with heat loss calculations and system designs at the bid stage. But do request to see such documentation from other jobs and let them know you will want to see documentation for your system if you hire them.
5. Can you provide referrals from previous builder or homeowner customers?
Can this contractor provide you with a list of customers, not just one or two names?
6. What product do you use and who is your supplier?
Some contractors shop around for the cheapest equipment. Good contractors install one or two standard brands and have taken manufacturer training in installing and troubleshooting these products. They will tell you why they prefer this equipment if you ask.
All furnaces sold in BC must meet a minimum efficiency rating. Therefore all brands are comparable in their rated efficiency. It is really the installation that determines your comfort and the safety, efficiency and life of the equipment you are buying.
Do you install hydronic systems, heat pumps, zoned forced air systems, cooling or ventilation systems, high efficiency filters, and other nonstandard equipment?
Many contractors specialize in certain kinds of installations and have special knowledge and training. Ask them!
7. Upon job completion, will they provide you with documentation including building heat loss/gain, duct layout drawing, equipment commissioning report, and manufacturer’s user manuals. GET THIS IN WRITING ON THEIR QUOTE!
By asking for proper information and documentation, this is one of the best ways to ensure that you have had properly sized and designed system installed. Without this, there is now way to be sure your home comfort system will operate properly and efficiently.
HVAC systems today are very sophisticated and often complex. There are no guarantees that an installation will result in problem free operation, but if the contractor you choose answers all the questions above positively, you will have the best chance of having a quality home comfort system installation.