As a Service Provider for Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical - we regularly run into clients who opt to get 3+ bids for the work that they want completed. At one point this summer, we had a job where we were the thirteenth contractor to quote new Air Conditioning equipment for the client. These are oftentimes the most difficult clients to deal with. Why? Because they are typically not reviewing a true apples-to-apples comparison.
In today's world of contracting, most reputable contractors are stuck trying to compete with a company that has one or two employees - most of which do not carry the required General Liability, Commercial Liability, or Workers Compensation Insurances. There are many out there trying to do things the right way, and are undermined on a daily basis by companies that do not even possess the licensing required to perform the work they're quoting.
As your service provider, our goal is to provide you with all of your options. Whether you exercise your option to do nothing, repair the existing equipment, or replace it - our goal is simply to help you make the best decision for you and your home that you can make.
What should I look for when getting multiple bids? - This is not always a cut and dry answer. One thing that we recommend looking at is the contractor's licensing history, workers compensation insurance, and liability insurance. All of these are important factors, and can have serious ramifications for the property owner if the contractor is not insured or someone is injured during the project. Here are a few suggestions and items to look for...
1. Is the contractor actually licensed for the work that they are quoting?
2. Do they possess liability and workers compensation insurance?
3. Does their salesperson have an active HIS Registration with the CSLB?
4. Is their pricing commensurate with other contractors in the area? If it is significantly lower than the others, this has to make you wonder what they're missing or not doing during the installation.
5. Was the contractor on time, or in communication about the delays in arrival?
6. Does the contractor work out of a truck with marked vehicle with decals and license number(s) on the vehicle?
7. Does the contractor provide you with more than one option?
8. Does the contractor have good reviews? Even the best contractors miss the mark sometimes - look at the majority of the reviews, and even the negative reviews.
9. Does the contractor operate with transparency? Are they clearly stating the work that they are performing with no surprises in the formal estimate?
10. What does your instinct say? If your "gut feeling" says no, there may be a reason!
I found the equipment online for $2,500 - how much do you charge for installation? Contractors must charge for more than just installation of the material. Reputable contractors must account for labor, material, overhead and profit in their estimates. If a company charges too little, they're likely going to struggle to live up to the promises that they make. A company that charges the appropriate price for their workmanship, material and equipment is typically going to be able to provide you with true 24/7 Service.
How do I know that I'm getting a "good deal"? The only "bad deal" that you get is a deal where you feel like you've been short-changed. Remember, most contractors are offering cut-rate deals in order to win your business - but that's not always the best option.
What is the talk about R22 Phaseout? Some contractors choose to use the R22 "Phaseout" as a means of persuading their clients into replacing their Air Conditioning equipment. While there is some truth to the R22 Phaseout, it does not mean that you have replace your air conditioning equipment today. Here are some things that are helpful to know when deciding if you'll replace your R22 Air Conditioning Equipment prior to failure.
1. R22 will no longer be Imported or Manufactured in 2020. This means that repairs that require additional or new refrigerant will definitely cost more than in previous years.
2. The R22 Phaseout does not mean that your equipment will stop working, it means that once it springs a leak, it may be a good time to consider replacement of the equipment.
3. There are drop-in replacements available to keep your equipment operational until you decide to replace. Once the unit suffers a catastrophic failure (such as compressor failure) it is definitely a good time to consider upgrading the mechanical equipment in your home.
4. Drop-In replacements do require a full evacuation of the system, installation of a new filter drier, and weighing in a factory refrigerant charge. Once this is complete, the system's performance and refrigeration system can be dialed in using drop-in refrigerants.
5. R22 has been going thru a progressive reduction in production and conversion to refrigerants that are less harmful to the environment.