When it’s time to pull the trigger on the repair or replacement of our home’s heating and cooling systems, our first instinct is to opt for the lowest bidder and forget the rest. However, what initially seemed like the “fiscally responsible” choice, often has unintended consequences.
This is not to say that the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best option for you-it might well be. There are several variables that factor into arriving at the mythical lowest bid. Some might in fact reflect on the quality of your contractor. Perhaps they run a lean operation with little overhead or they have nurtured solid relationships with their vendors and their pricing reflects that. On the other hand, it is possible that integral items have been left out of the quote or they are planning to use low quality materials.
Before you panic and decide that maybe luxuries like air conditioning in August in the midwest are overrated, take a step back and review those proposals one more time.
Apples To Apples
First, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. In the same way that work quality varies from one business to the next, so does the quality of quotes. (Also referred to as estimates, bids or proposals.) Ensure that each of your quotes identify a clear scope of work and specific materials. If essentials have been left out of the initial quote accidentally (or perhaps not so accidentally) you will ultimately have to fork over additional cash to have the job completed. This speaks to either the integrity or overall skill set of the contractor.
While a full blown stake out may not be in order, do some homework. Click around the inter-webs a bit and look for reviews of the business. If a pattern of poor reviews and common complaints surface, you have your answer. Shred it and move onto the next one.
Hopefully, you did this before you had each business come out to give you a quote. If not, don’t worry, it’s not too late. Ask around. Talk to friends and neighbors who have used this business previously. What was their experience? Were they happy with the value of the service and product?
Go With Your Gut
How did each company make you feel? Did they listen to you, or were they just waiting for their turn to talk? Did you feel safe with them in your home and around your children? Did they take the time to explain the process to you in terms that you could easily understand?
When it comes to making major improvements to your home, things can get expensive quickly. But you can rest assured that they will only become infinitely more costly when you hire a company based solely on price. By all means, use pricing as a guide as you evaluate each quote to make the most educated decision.