Homeownership can get pricy for homeowners who don’t shop around when it comes to repairs. For as many reputable HVAC system technicians and professionals out there, there are also the few bad apples known to overquote for repairs or scam people into jobs they don’t need.
Rest assured, there are some surefire ways to know if you are being overquoted for home repairs or HVAC work. If you think this may be the case, the first thing to do is learn the red flags that indicate it might be time to shop around. Whether you live in a new city or are firmly planted, avoiding being overcharged and quoted is never a bad idea.
Whether your issue is a broken furnace, new system need, faulty thermostat, or even abnormally high energy bills, it is important to do your research and pay attention to red flags for getting repair bill quotes. You don’t want a costly surprise, and doing research ahead of time will help avoid this. A frozen air conditioner should not cost the same as an entire cooling system overhaul, but you might be shocked at what some will quote a job out at. Pay attention to these red flags and take these steps to avoid being overquoted for work on your home.
Avoid places like Craigslist when it comes to locating someone to do work on your home. You get what you pay for, so you want to start with licensed professionals who carry liability insurance and are trained technicians in their trades. You don’t want the average homeowner DIY handyman fixing your heat pump. Not only might they overquote you, but you won’t have the same recourse should the job go wrong. If you are looking to save money, this is not the place for it as finding a professional to do the job right will save you money.
Be wary of contractors who show up on your doorstep looking for work. Most professionals have established businesses with lead finding services and plenty of work that comes to them. If this happens to you, do your due diligence in securing at least three other bids for a job before hiring anyone who solicits you. Their pricing should match or be even lower than people you take the initiative with.
Other major red flags include contractors who ask you to pay upfront, say they can save you money by working with surplus supplies, offer financing through someone they know, offer limited time only deals, claim to be in the neighborhood, or that they are willing to do you a favor. Instead, legitimate companies put repair work bids in writing, have standard rates, use new materials, and are paid in full only at the end of the job. While many will take deposits to begin the work, they will not ask for full payment or suggest additional repairs until the job is complete. It’s a good idea to ask about this ahead of time.
If you are new to an area, one way to find a reputable home repair specialist who won’t overcharge is to ask the locals. Whether moving to an expensive city like New York or rooted in your hometown, it’s always smart to use word of mouth when it comes to repairing referrals. For example, to determine your home’s precise cooling needs, you will want to consult an HVAC professional whom others have used and trusted. This can be particularly challenging when moving to a big city where it may be more difficult to find trusted neighborly referrals. Things to consider before moving to San Franscisco or Los Angeles, for example, might include looking at national averages when it comes to repairing costs.
The good news is that taking the time to do your research, shopping around for bids, and asking questions during the estimate process will all go a long way in helping you to locate the right HVAC contractor, carpenter, electrician, or another repair specialist for you.