How can I make sure I'm getting a qualified installer?
Sourcing Reputable Licensed, Accredited Installer Contractors
First — definitely check with friends and family, neighbors, co-workers, social media local contacts, and people within your ‘network / circle of influence’ who may have had similar work done, or my know someone they know and trust who has. Ask for honest appraisals of their experiences. Some of the really key questions to ask might be —
- What similar project did they handle for you? Did they complete it within the projected time frame? How were they to work with? Did they show up on time? Did they clean up after themselves? Did they keep open communication throughout the project?
- If the actual project was similar to what yours is expected to be, how were they in pricing? Did you feel their bid was fair and accurate? Did they hold to their bid? Were there any unexpected surprises, or unexplained charges? If they ran into unanticipated snags, did they quickly advise you of the issue(s), and accurately project the added cost?
- Is installer knowledgeable w/regard to required permits, local regulations, etc. that should be part of their typical responsibility.
- Perhaps the best question to ask is, would you hire them again?
From those interviews, you should get leads for a fair number of installer contractors, and you may learn of a few who you do not want to use.
Next — look at online reviews and ratings, from (for example) respected sources such as ACDoctor.com, AngiesList.com, ThisOldHouse.com, HomeAdvisor.com, ContractorConnection.com, Yelp.com… and so many more. Not to mention, the manufacturer whose system you’re planning to buy likely has a “Find an Installer” link, which typically is an ideal and generally reliable resource for exactly the type pf project you need to accomplish.
Most, if not, all, of these sites have a methodical, step-wise process that literally walks you through your project, to provide potential installers with excellent detail that you provide as to the nature and scope of the project, so they can reach out to you to talk over details, come out and review your situation, make assessments they’ll need regarding all the steps they’ll need to perform and services they’ll need to provide, in order to bid your project and propose a timeline for the work.
To assist you in providing an accurate description of the project for which you’re requesting a bid, the following 2-paragraph block can be cut-n-pasted into the appropriate form field:
Project Description — is to install a pre-purchased GREE Crown 12,000 btu/H mini split high performance ductless ac/heat pump system into an existing ranch style open floor plan home. System will have all install parts and line set(s), including base bracket mount, or base pad.
“Licensed contractor will need to show certifications for HVAC piping and electrical work, and handling of R410A refrigerant. Must also provide names & contact phone numbers of up to 3 referral customers whom project coordinator (homeowner) will contact for additional information and satisfaction level with services provided by contractor.”
For this example, we’ve inserted GREE as the manufacturer; we’ve mentioned CROWN as the anticipated model of mini split we want to have installed; and we’ve noted 12,000 btu/H as the system capacity. In these areas, replace those items with your Make / Model / Capacity. Also, we have used the term "ranch style open floor plan home" where you would put a more accurate description of your application location.
Next — definitely ask for referrals from the installers who are bidding your install; then actually call two or three of them. Briefly introduce yourself, tell them that (so-and-so) contractor listed them as a referral; and ask for just a few minutes of their time. Ask them to candidly share their sense of how the contractor served them, and how satisfied whey were with the work, the cost, the service, the contractor’s time line, etc. Do try to keep it brief; Be sure to thank them at the end of the call.
Once you do have bids in hand, be sure to read their Terms & Conditions carefully; if you have any questions, ask the installer BEFORE signing the bid, talk out your concerns so that both you and your installer are ‘on the same page.’
Finally — take into account ALL the relevant factors — not simply price — when making your decision. If you really feel good about contractor “B” but have a considerably better bid from contractor “A” or “C” be smart enough to talk with “B” and let him/her that you feel most comfortable with them, but you do have to consider the contrast in price; can they show any flexibility? Oftentimes they will be willing to make an adjustment…. And if they’re unwilling to compromise even a little bit, then it might be better to approach one of your alternate bidders.
In Summary… you’re committed to making a positive change in your personal environmental comfort for yourself and your family. You have a good handle on the upfront investment for the system and the components necessary to do a full installation. In order to validate the system warranty (which based on today’s more advanced technology) is typically 5-, 7- 10-years or even more, you need the install done by a licensed contractor. It’s all part-and-parcel’ of the overall equation and a sound investment that will pay off handsomely over the entire life of the system.
Follow the process to secure the best possible result for you and your family. You’ll be thankful you did in the long run.