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How to Pre-Qualify Your Contractor
Things to check before hiring a contractor
1. It is a law that any form of advertising must display the state contractor's license number (7digits); this license number can be a very useful tool. A consumer should always go to the Contractor State License Boards web site (www.cslb.ca.gov) click on the Instant License Check located on the top left. Next, click on the License Number button. Enter the seven digit number in the license number box, and then click on search for license. This will bring you to a very informative page where you can learn the legitimacy of the contractor you are about to hire.
The most overlooked part of hiring a contractor is located at the bottom of the page, it is the workers compensation heading. Here you may find more often than not the contractor has claimed they have no employees and is exempt from workers comp. If the contractor is a one man show, this is fine. If the contractor has ANY employees and claims he is exempt he is working illegally.
Keep in mind if a company is cheating their own employees out of workers comp insurance and lying to the state, don't think they won't do the same to you. (A liar and a cheat is a liar and a cheat.)
2. Another consumer fear should be service after the sale, after all everything eventually breaks, sometimes while under warranty sometimes not for years. Asking the salesman if the company gives good service after the sale is not the best way to get a accurate answer. Do your research.
A wonderful means to get a feel for the service after
the sale is to anonymously call the company that you think you may hire and
tell them you purchased new HVAC equipment 3-4 months ago and it has stopped
working how soon can they get someone to look at it, theie response will be your
answer to the service you can expect after the sale.
3. Do not hire a contractor based upon their advertising. What is meant by this statement is if a contractor advertises 24 hr. service, make a phone call late in the evening or on a weekend see if they truly offer the advertised service.
4. It is also a law that a contractor can ask for a down payment, they may only ask for 10% of the total contract or $1,000.00 whichever LESS is.
A lot of the time when a contractor wants money up front this indicates they are not very financially stable, this should bring concern to the homeowner.
5. Don't be fooled into one brand name of equipment being superior to other brands of equipment. The reality is, if one brand was far superior to all others, that manufacture would sell all the HVAC products.
All HVAC equipment is essentially the same components in a different tin box, all warranties are very comparable. The main ingredient to whether your new HVAC system will perform as designed is the contractor or engineer that initially decides on the size (BTU) of the new system, and the quality of the installation.
6. Yes you do need to obtain a mechanical permit for virtually all HVAC installations, ( it's the law ) when a contractor tells you that a permit is not needed for your situation it is a very good idea to call your local city or county building department and verify for yourself.
The most common reason for a contractor not to obtain a mechanical permit is, they normally do not have the proper credentials to do so (Workerscomp).
The second most common reason for a contractor not to obtain a mechanical permit is poor quality of the installation.
7. Purchasing new HVAC equipment can be easy, do your homework, if it sounds too good (cheap) to be true it probably is.