Did you know that 90% of free plumbing and heating quotes received by email from contractors are NOT what you will actually be billed?
Everyday we get tons of emails requesting free plumbing and heating quotes by email. Although we try our best to answer these emails with as much information as possible, without a proper site inspection there are so many things that could be overlooked or missed that 90% of quotes given by email by plumbing and heating contractors ends up being wrong or misleading. We think this is unfair to homeowners to get one price but then end up being charged a different price when the work is actually done.
We believe that homeowners have a right to know what they are buying before they buy and that misleading emails where the only thing they can compare is the price is the wrong way to shop for services (especially since we know most emailed prices are wrong to begin with).
If you are shopping around for plumbing and heating quotes or prices you really need to know “what” you are buying, not just the price.
Here is what you DON’T know when you get a free quote without a site inspection – but really need to know:
- What comes with the work? Often times there are many small things that they add on AFTER you approved your quote – make sure they tell you what is included (AND EXCLUDED) in writing otherwise you could be hit with additional costs you didn’t know about. For example did you know that new toilets do not come with toilet seats, Furnaces do not come with plenums, or Air Conditioners do not come with a stand or stone to keep it off the grass (and water when snow melts)?
- Is the person or company you contacted Licensed – BEWARE MANY ARE NOT! There are tons of handymen out there doing licensed trade work, they don’t need a contractor license anymore – anyone can say “plumber” or “HVAC” or anything else in their company name without having one licensed tradesman working in the company. But the problem with that is if they don’t have a valid license and your home is damaged (more homes are damaged by water than by fire) it could seriously impact you financially. Your homeowner insurance policy may deny a claim for property damages if the work was not performed by a licensed tradesmen. This could potentially cost you tens of thousands or worse hundreds of thousands in property damages out of your own pocket.
- Has the person or company you contract kept current on their WSIB payments (or even have a WSIB account). WSIB (Workplace Safety Insurance Board) is the mandatory insurance that every contractor must pay for each employee in the trade (many do not register or pay for this). If they fail to have an account or have lapsed in their payments – YOU become liable for their expenses if they are hurt while working for you. The kind of work contractors do require lifting, crawling, bending, and working with power tools which makes it a high risk job for injury (pulled back, sprains, falls, broken bones, etc.) Without the WSIB protection you become the employer (because you hired them) this makes you responsible for any unpaid WSIB premiums, all their medical costs not covered by OHIP, lost wages recovering, long term health care and rehabilitation costs, and possible re-training (educational) costs associated with having to learn a new trade if they can no longer work in their profession. In other words – you take all the risk by hiring them. This really isn’t fair to homeowners but it is the law and you need to know this but no one is telling you.
- Warranties – YES THEY MATTER! Nothing is worse than paying for a job only to have it fail within a few days or weeks after being completed (we get a lot of these calls from people who hired other companies only to have it fail with no warranties so they call us to come and fix it right after the fact). There are many companies out there who do not offer warranties or their warranties are limited to only 30 days – if they only believe their work will last 30 days that doesn’t say much for their belief in their own workmanship. You need to ask what warranties come with the work. A good company should include at least 1 year warranty but be sure to read the details (fine print) – some warranties have so many exclusions that the warranty isn’t worth the paper it is written on.
Here is what you need to know about warranties:
- Does the warranty include parts and labour or just parts – typically the most expensive part of any repair is usually the labour. A good parts and labour warranty should be 1 year, that gives the install plenty of time for issues to develop if there is anything wrong with the parts themselves.
- Is the warranty full value or pro-rated (limited)? A pro-rated warranty depreciates as soon as you take possession of the equipment or fixtures (like a car depreciates in value as soon as it leaves the dealership). Meaning if you got a pro-rated warranty you may only get a tiny portion of the value if you make a claim.
- Did you get the warranty in writing or just verbal – a verbal warranty is a non-existent warranty – it is only valid if in writing. Make sure they write it on your invoice to avoid any possible denial.
MORE things you really need to consider too…
- Does the person or company you hired have a good reputation? Did you check out their BBB rating? Do they come recommended by friends or neighbours? Did you do a google search to see what kind of reputation they have? Letting a total stranger into your house based on a free quote by email alone is really unwise. We highly recommend taking a few minutes to run a background check on them before opening your front door.
- How long has their company been in business? If they just started the company you may have reason to be concerned (80% of new companies will fail within their first 3 years of business), try to find a company that has been in business for a few years (ideally at least 10 years). They are more likely to still be in business if you ever need a warranty service call.
Same Jobs are not the same jobs
In addition to these 6 points you also have to keep in mind that when it comes to the bigger installations (furnace, boiler, air conditioner, heat pump, HRV, etc.) these jobs will NOT be the same from one company to the next.
For example it is not uncommon for cheaper companies to not purge AC coils of all humidity before adding the refrigerant – this means the lines are contaminated and will start leaking refrigerant within just a few short years instead of lasting 10 to 20 years as good installations do.
When it comes to furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, heat pumps, HRV, water purifiers etc. the quality of the installation is actually MORE important than the equipment you chose.
Even a cheaper piece of equipment if installed properly can give you years of issue free operations – but the best equipment if improperly installed will drastically reduce the life of the equipment and you will have endless on going issues with the equipment not working right. It can’t work right – it wasn’t installed correctly to manufacturer specifications.
You need to know that whoever you hire is going to do the job right the first time – every time – and if there are any issues your equipment is covered by a written warranty that includes labour not just parts.
In summary – if a quote seems too good to be true, it is!
Trust your gut – there may be something missing that you don’t know about.
Don’t trust your home to the cheapest bidder – go with fair prices for quality workmanship that you can trust to last years. It’s the only way to protect your home (and your budget in the long run).
Go with the right company who will do the job correct from the beginning to the end and you will have fewer issues and more reliable equipment regardless of what you buy.
Have questions I didn’t answer? Send me a message and I will add your answers to our next blog post.
We take great pride in serving our community – which means caring for you and your home.
Francis Plumbing and Heating
Your Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and natural gas experts!