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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In these days of free estimates and tight budgets, how much time and detail do you put into your residential system replacement estimates?
Do you spec your replacement system based on what’s there or do you expend the increased time to do an in depth manual J calc on a job you may not even get?

Granted you can most likely make some guestimates based on the age of the home and square footage of the finished areas, but would you actually investigate the R-value of insulation in the walls, floors and ceilings and measure the glass area of each window in every room, etc, etc. etc…?

Seems like it may be better to just take a lot of quick notes and do a rough estimate based on square footage and building age assessment, then do a more comprehensive calculation later, if and when the job is awarded. Especially if you sense that the perspective customer is just using you as the mandatory 3rd bid.

I would think you could probably follow this same approach when sizing a brand new mini-split install, unless the job was somehow a sure thing.

There also seems to be an abundance of dreamers seeking below market discount pricing and tire kickers that have no qualm with wasting your time, since there is no obligation on their part. I understand that some guys charge a minimal fee, like $10.00 for an estimate to filter out this chaff and then refund that cost if awarded the job, but I can’t see this as advantageous when it seems the majority of the competition is also offering them for free.
 

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my estimates are just that. a ball park total cost estimate with a + or - 8%. actual quotes are man j calcs, exact equipment sizes, model #'s, time to install etc. i dont want these schmucks to use my hard earn knowledge and time to just give it to a low baller. if a customer wants the precise quote, it costs them $1000. if they close the deal i then deduct $1250 from the total job cost as an insentive. i get alot of B to B work from other contractors to size and quote jobs for a little less than that of course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It sounds like you have a pretty decent class of clientele with an established customer base. :thumbsup:
The thing I’m seeing is that people have a tendency to want and hold you to your estimate as a hard price, as if it were a contract price, so they can use it for comparison with other estimates. They don’t seem willing to go with an approximate price that could potentially increase after a full calculation is done. This kind of puts you between a rock and a hard place.
I think even many people that can still easily afford a new system are tuned to the predisposition that the bad economy equals discount prices for all things now and everything is negotiable, even skilled trade services and equipment prices. Some even want to supply their own equipment and just find the lowest labor price for installation.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of guys actually feeding this mentality by working at cut rate labor pricing and practically selling materials at cost. It will be interesting to see how well their workmanship holds up a couple of years from now when the economy inevitably begins to recover. This should ultimately reveal just how much of a value their customers actually got.
 

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Energy mover
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i never cut labor costs, i negociate equipment costs with respect to brand or efficiency, but it costs the same to put in carrier as it does to put in goodman.
 

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Are proposals are still free. They are a firm price to replace a furnace or a/c or add a a/c to an existing system. I have been looking deeper into systems and finding many of the estimates we go on are because the system is not working properly to them. most systems are not designed properly and even with a quick change out still will not operate properly.
Now in my eyes this has now turned into a system diognostic service call to determon what the problem really is and now can charge for my service and time to find the problem.
If you explain to the customer you can give a price on a more efficent way to deliver the same set of problems. Or we can spend a little up front and resolve the underlieing problem. I will then credit the cost if they go with us for the repaire or replacement. We recently did a system repaire with no equipment except for the evap. Mostly duct renovation near the furnace to reduce static psi for more than the cost of the new larger a/c they oridginally wanted. They did not need a larger a/c. They had poor workmanship on there previous a/c and furnace installations.
We were the only company that even talked about system repaire instead of replace. We were also the only ones that would not quote a larger a/c. The load on his home proved he already had the correct size.
In short his oridginal free estimate turned into a billable system diognistic and then a very nice job.
 

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Energy mover
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In short his oridginal free estimate turned into a billable system diognistic and then a very nice job.
you said it! the equipment will always be there to eventually be replaced, stretching out its life span can be cost effective to the customer and lucerative to you.
 

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With these hard times I think it is better to set yourself apart from the other companies. We do a manual J and tell the customer why it needs to be done. Most seem to appreciate the fact that we go the extra mile and I know for a fact that we get more jobs because of it.

They don't get the full manual J until they sign with us so they can't give it to anyone else.
 

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Calculations are needed

In a day where sales needs to be more extensive and personal so high end costs can be justified, the HVAC contractor needs to do more. If calculations are completed to prove to the potential client that your company values them and their needs as something important, then proving this can make the sale. I learned from a company that required calculations for replacements and new construction. The sales were very good in a small area in WI. I have recently worked for a company in WY. that only wanted to price a replacement furnace or air-conditioner based on what was previously installed and then to just e-mail, fax, or mail the quote. Needless to say, none of the quotes were ever sold. I tried to get that company to change thought processes but to no luck. Without them making the sales their retail income failed and I lost my job. It is important to show the client that your company cares. They will then pass the word around and we all know that the best advertising is word of mouth. Please take the time to do some calcs and it will become advertising.
 

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Manual J

Yeah we also do the Manual J... There are not a lot of guys here in South Florida that are doing them and the customers really seem to like us going the extra mile... I also hold the full manual j hostage so they can't give it to another contractor... The more the customers get educated the more them seem to be loyal to you...
 

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1076 people surveyed, across the country, 2-3 weeks after install. (some replacement components, some complete split systems, all residential)
1. what brand did you have installed? most common answer. Honeywell! #2 I dont know.
2. The cost of your system was?
1. less then expected (78%)
2. what I expected (18%)
3. More then expected (4% )
3. What was the most significant reason you chose the contractor that installed your system. #1 reason I TRUSTED THEM!

To j or not to j, to quote brand X at price X or Z at Z. doesnt really matter.
If you are Trustworthy, Honest, and provide what you say you will when you say you will. you will be a succesful contractor.
SELL YOURSELF/YOUR COMPANY.
People will remember you long after they forgot what they bought!

your thoughts?
 

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calculations

Just measure off a whole house load, single piece of paper if easy house, give a semi guesstimate. I don't do the 13seer vs 14seer vs gas vs geo plus bull. Guesstimate and tell them 10 percent givr or take.
 
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