I'm having a bit of a problem getting bids for a new furnace. I'm
hoping that some folks in the HVAC profession might be willing to
give me their opinion here.
I've qualified for a 'this old house' program offered by our county
to make older homes more energy efficient. In my case, the first
priority identified by the program is replacing my 1970s-era furnace
with a new high-efficiency furnace. I was told I could call any
contractor, and to submit at least three bids to the program
administrators for review. I was told I could indicate my preference
as to which contractor I'd rather go with.
The first company I had out came highly recommended by my brother.
They'd installed a/c for him a year ago, and the estimator had spent
a considerable amount of time running a Manual J and coming up with
two proposals for my brother to consider. He was very pleased with
their quality of work and the time they spent explaining the issues
with him, which is why I called them. I even arranged to have the
same estimator who'd done my brother's bid come to do my proposal.
Unfortunately, as soon as the guy showed up and learned my furnace
replacement was going to be handled under this program, he lost all
interest. He looked at my old furnace, rapidly wrote up a brief
proposal, and began to leave. I had to stop him to ask him some of
the questions that should have come up in a proper proposal process.
He told me the program would not allow me to pick the contractor and
since they'd award the job to the lowest bidder, it wasn't worth
spending any more time with me.
The estimator from the next highly-recommended company arrived, and
the process took even less time. As soon as he heard it was a
replacement under this program, he told me they only supplied one
furnace model under the program, and that he'd fax a bid to the
program. He then left.
I then called the third company, one I've done business with in the
past. They told me they don't work with this program, so they're not
interested in meeting my heating-a/c needs this time.
Okay. I've got a call into the program director, because she had
told me I'd have a choice of contractors and a choice of installs,
subject to certain pricing parameters, and that's not what the
contractors are saying. If this program provides furnace
replacement, yet is so focused on the lowest bid that it won't
permit a contractor to properly size the package to the home, it's
probably wasting money. I'm not sure if getting a (basically) free
furnace under a one-size-fits-most proposal is a better deal than
paying several thousand out of my own pocket for a properly sized
furnace. And the fact that I'm being treated like a leper by the
quality HVAC contractors scares the hell out of me.
Is there anything I can do to make this job more appealing to a
quality HVAC contractor? I don't want to hide the fact that this is
a 'this old house' replacement program deal from a prospective
contractor, but I'm floored at the difference it makes in how my
proposal is being handled. Should I call a company and offer to pay
for a proper proposal?
Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions,