20 Questions to Ask Your Contractor - Part 1

We’ve been focusing on the topic of the decision to purchase and install an HVAC system in your home. In a recent blog we talked about whether making an online purchase of heating and cooling equipment was wise or not. Then we considered three important topics to analyze in a potential contractor. It is an important topic because whatever work is done on your home stays with you. If it is done poorly, you have to live with it, or go through the hassle of making it right. However, if it is done properly, then it should raise the value of your home, and make you and your family more comfortable and content to be at home.

If you are at the point of making a decision about the installation or modification of your home’s central heating and cooling system, keep this important factor in mind: “Don’t go strictly by the bottom line.”

Now, you might think you know where we’re going with this, but hold on a minute and let us explain what we mean, because it works both ways. If you are comparing proposals of two or three contractors (and at GAMA Air we recommend that you do your research and get more than one opinion), you might be tempted to go with the cheapest one. And admittedly, that is a legitimate temptation. After all, who wants to spend more money than they have to? But to agree to proceed with a project based strictly on the price at the bottom of the proposal, may not be the best decision in the long run may not be the cheapest way to go.

You’ve heard “You get what you pay for”, right? So if you pay very little then chances are you will get very little. However, that well-worn phrase is not always true. It doesn’t mean that if you have three proposals in front of you then the most expensive one must be the best choice. That’s why we emphasize “Don’t go strictly by the bottom line.” There are other important factors that you should consider.

Awhile back we posted a blog entry on 20 important questions to ask your potential heating and air conditioning contractor before signing anything. We’re going to review those questions and make sure you understand just how important they are to you and your family.

  1. Are you and your subcontractors licensed to do this type of work? The average, work-out-of-your-trunk HVAC technician may not be. He or she may be smart, and skilled. But as we already mentioned, most state and local authorities require that heating and cooling equipment be installed by licensed workers. Plus, your homeowner's insurance may not cover damage caused due to work done by unlicensed contractors. This is a risk you don’t want to take.
  2. Are you insured to do this type of work? If an accident were to happen on your property as a result of a contracted job, and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you may end up with the bill. Severe injury, or loss of life, can result in astronomical health-care and legal costs. Your homeowner's insurance may not cover such costs, but a competent heating and cooling contractor will have an insurance policy of $2 million or more that will cover them. It may seem like a minimal risk, but accidents happen.
  3. Are your installers trained to use power tools and equipment in and around occupied spaces? It is one thing to be a “do-it-yourselfer”, figuring things out and learning as you go. But you don’t want a contractor who has workers who are figuring things out as they go on your house. Avoid negligence claims by requiring contractor to provide a copy of their safety program. If they are trained well, they will work well.
  4. Do you perform drug testing to screen your employees for hire? Sadly, this is a factor that must considered due to the very real possibility that a worker in your home could have a drug-abuse habit. Avoid negligence claims and other hassles by choosing a contractor that routinely performs drug testing for all new hires. And if they also do random tests now and again, that’s even better.

That’s just a start. We’ll keep on this important topic to make sure you can make a sound decision about the installation of a new heating and cooling system in your home. (Click here to read Part 2.)

Have questions that just can’t wait. Then don’t wait! Visit our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and our resident expert will get back to you quickly with a response.

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