Whether you’re a contractor looking for a mechanical services partner for multiple projects, or a building owner looking for a design-and-build HVAC provider, it can be difficult to cut through the noise.
A company will always claim to be honest, reliable and good value, but how do you assess those promises in a way that tells you whether they are worth your investment? The list of factors to consider can be extensive, but we’ve picked out our top three to help you make an informed choice.
The temptation to choose the system with the lowest quoted price is ever-present, but it’s important to look beyond price if you’re to find value. When it comes to air conditioning, ventilation or heating systems, the value of technical competence should not be underestimated.
Whether you understand the details of what goes into a well-designed system or not, you should still be able to assess how well the provider understands your needs. Questions you could ask include:
- How is this system similar to others you’ve installed in the past?
- How does it differ?
- What other options did you consider for the design, and what ruled them out?
- Is this the most efficient option? Could a greater initial outlay save more on running costs, or vice versa?
A knowledgeable contractor should be able to explain their choices succinctly, and should be honest about what is possible for your unique system, the limitations, and what you can expect in terms of energy efficiency improvements. They should be able to explain thermal load calculations (the amount of heat or cooling required for a space, depending on size and number of occupants), and justify their choice of equipment.
As 361 Degrees Head of Technical Michael Farmer explains: “The assumption might be that it’s best to retain and reuse equipment, but we look at the entire scheme and often we’ll find that stripping out and replacing creates a better life expectancy. The initial outlay might be higher, but that’s outweighed by the long-term savings.”
Qualifications and Safety Record
The best HVAC providers develop strong, long-term relationships with contractors because the contractor knows they can trust the provider on-site. In our work with interior fit-out contractors, for example, 361 Degrees operates as a completely compatible mechanical department. Once we’ve established a strong reputation for safety and efficiency, the contractor knows they can trust our engineers to get on with the job.
Qualifications are also vitally important, from ISO certifications that prove a company meets safety and quality standards, to industry-specific credentials. Work with leading manufacturers such as Mitsubishi Electric, Daikin and Bosch is also a sign of quality, so look for providers with established, close relationships with these companies.
If you don’t have good communication before a contract is signed, you can’t expect it to improve when the project itself is underway. HVAC providers should keep you informed at every stage, relaying progress but also letting you know of any unexpected problems or delays.
Of course, fully guaranteed quotes mean unpleasant surprises don’t create additional costs, but it’s vital that you feel involved in and understand the solutions to any problems. Good communication also involves listening to concerns and understanding your priorities.
While it is difficult to gauge whether communication will be forthright throughout the lifecycle of a project, feedback and testimonials from past customers can prove invaluable here. Along with reading reviews, try to speak to others about their experiences. Was work completed to schedule? Did the company deliver what they promised? Was disruption kept to a minimum?
This information, along with your improved understanding of what makes for a competent, reliable mechanical services contractor, will put you in a strong position to make the best choice for any project.