Mistake #2 – You Think All Contractors
Are The Same
Every contractor is different. No two contractors are really the same. Every
contractor has different equipment and different employees who know how to do
certain kinds of jobs well. Every company has a different number of employees,
each with different abilities.
Contracting is art and craftsmanship combined. Most people who hire contractors
don't truly understand that despite all of the technological advances,
contractors still use the same quality work habits as twenty years ago.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, heating and air conditioning is not just
banging on the furnace or air conditioner, cleaning filters or charging
refrigerant. It takes craftsmanship to turn out quality work. Contractors have
to diagnose, measure and perform complicated calculations before they can start
Communication is the key to picking the best contractor for YOU.
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- Ask what type of work they do.
- Ask how long they have been in business.
- Ask what is the timing required to finish the job.
- Ask if they or subcontractors do the work.
- Ask if they are using skilled technicians or cheap laborers.
- Ask any other questions that are unique to your needs. This will help you
decide whether they are the best contractors for YOU!
After you ask your questions, it will become obvious which company you should
choose. The company that wants your business will prove to you that they are the
best contractor to do your work. Take your time to decide which contractor you
would like to use – but when you decide, you must be loyal to them (See Mistake
Mistake #3 – You always have three
or more contractors competing with each other for your work.
You may think this is good way to do business; it is to some extent. But here is
why it usually isn't a good way to deal with contractors.
A good contractor has enough loyal customers so that they don't have to deal
with price shoppers. Once you find a good contractor, you must be loyal to them.
If you flip-flop from contractor-to-contractor, a good shop won't be too
motivated to keep YOU as a customer, and you'll be left "out in the cold"
literally when you most need them.
Price is important. But price should not be more important than good quality and
good service. This is what people typically like to do. They try to get everyone
fighting for the same piece of pie. This might be an OK short-term strategy
because you save a few bucks. But when you need a favor or super fast service,
not one of these companies will instantly bend over backwards to help you. (And
if you have been a price shopper in the past, they will probably charge you
Every contractor expects to bend over backwards for their loyal customers now
and then. He or she might have to work all night or on a weekend to do a super
rush job or pull off a miracle. Provided the customer is loyal, the contractor
will do all he can to help you meet your needs.
All good contractors will be loyal to you if YOU are loyal to them.
Keep loyalty in mind when you pick your contractor.
Mistake #4 – You think having the
right equipment is all a contractor needs to do your job!
Many contractors own great equipment, but that doesn't mean they know how to use
it. You can have the "latest, greatest technological wonder gizmo," but if you
don’t know how to use it properly, you are better off not even picking the darn
Compare this to using all of the complicated controls on your VCR.
Studies show that half the people who own a VCR don’t even know how to set the
clock, let alone use its advanced features.
The same thing happens in the contracting industry.
Many contractors have tools that have a lot of bells and whistles, but if he's a
technician who doesn't know how to use the new features, you might as well go to
a company that has old equipment. Make sure the technician is experienced and
trained. This ensures your work will get done right the first time. And on time!
Mistake #5 – You don’t give your
contractor enough time to complete your job properly! Mistakes happen when you
When you're in a hurry, you may forget to tell your contractor certain
instructions. Or you might make a mistake in judgment or purchase decision
because you were concentrating on getting it done, instead of getting it done
Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.
Before you work on your contracting project, talk with your contractor. Get your
contractor involved from the beginning because there might be more efficient way
to finish your project on time that you don't know about.
You can save time, money and headaches from the very beginning by communicating
with your contractor!
Why do most people do the opposite of this and wait until the last minute to
talk to the contractor? Because everyone takes the contractor for granted.
Everyone thinks the contractor can easily take care of his or her work. Most
everyone thinks the contractor is sitting around waiting for his or her job to
come through the door. This isn't the case.
You should think of your contractor as your "project partner." Consult with your
contractor. Let them know in advance what you want installed or fixed. Ask them
if there are any tips they can give you to make your job go more smoothly.
You are not the only customer your contractor has. When they walk in the door
and you're saying you need it now, a contractor can't always help you. YOU need
to work together.
Mistake #6 – You pick contractors
who don’t guarantee their work.
All reputable contractors guarantee their work automatically. This means if they
make mistakes on your job, they will re-do or fix your job at no charge.
Unfortunately, there are unethical contractors who won't do this. Instead, they
won't make good on your work and may not take any responsibility for their
An unethical contractor may hold your work hostage. Or they may say they will
fix your job, but pin the problem on you and tack on an extra charge. There are
about a hundred other things a not-so-good contractor may do to you.
The best thing you can do is pick a contractor who unconditionally guarantees
their work. If it's not done right and it's their mistake, they will do it again
or fix it.
Mistake #7 – You don’t ask for
This is probably the easiest way you can avoid any problems with a contractor.
ALL good reputable contractors will eagerly give you references.
Ask your contractor to give at least three names of people with whom they have
done business. Also, ask them how long they have worked with this customer.
Ask them what type of job they did for those references. Try and get the names
of customers who had similar things done that you need done.
This is the easiest way you can pick the right contractor for YOU!
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Mistake #8 – You don’t understand
the "lingo." Alright, this wasn’t one of the original seven mistakes. But it IS
important. It's so important, I decided to define twelve of the most common air
conditioning and heating terms so YOU understand what contractors are saying!
BTU: (British Thermal Unit) – The amount of energy that’s needed
to change the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
This is how the heat removed from your home for cooling or added to your
home for heating is measured.
Ton: The unit used to measure the capacity of an air conditioning
system. One ton of air conditioning removes 12,000 BTU’s of heat energy per
hour from your home.
CFM: Cubic Feet of Air per Minute. This is how the amount of air
your central forced air heating and/or cooling system is measured. Less CFM
is required for heating than cooling since warm air is lighter.
Additionally, it takes 400 CFM to move one ton of air conditioning. Coil or
Evaporator: Looks like the radiator on your car. Usually installed inside
the box on top of your furnace. It takes the heat and moisture (humidity)
out of the air as the refrigerant (also known as Freon or R410A) circulates
Horsepower: One horsepower equal to 9,000 BTU/hr (check with your
contractors exactly how many BTU/hr when they quote in horsepower)
Fan Coil: The air conditioner unit that is installed inside the
house. It takes the heat and moisture out of the air as the refrigerant
(what you might know as gas) evaporate.
Refrigerant: This is the real name for what many people call freon
or R410A. It’s the fluid that evaporates at low temperatures and pulls heat
and humidity out of the air to remove heat from your home in the summer, and
put heat in your home in the winter if you own a heat pump.
Condenser: This is the unit outside the house that’s usually
making all the noise (at least in the older models). This holds the
compressor that is called the heart of your system. In addition, it also
transforms your refrigerant (freon/R410A) from a gas to a liquid. Finally,
there’s a fan discharging heat to the outdoors.
Compressor: The heart of your air conditioner. It moves the
refrigerant from the condensing unit to the fan coil unit and back to the
condensing to form a cycle.
Split System: The most common type of home comfort system in the
country. Some components are inside the home and others outside. Inside is
the furnace which has an evaporator coil. Outside is the condensing unit.
S.E.E.R.: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. Air conditioners and
coils are rated by S.E.E.R. Higher S.E.E.R. ratings use electricity more
efficiently, meaning you will use less kilowatts to cool your home and
therefore reduce your monthly utility bill.
A.F.U.E.: Fossil fuel furnaces and boilers are rated by Annual
Fuel Utilization of Efficiency. Higher A.F.U.E. ratings burn the fuel more
efficiently, meaning you will use less gas, propane or oil to heat your home
and therefore reduce your monthly energy bill.