Beware the “Singular Specialty Expert”

My business partner and I attend a lot of events with other professionals in our industry. Recently, I was at a meeting where a very high-end HVAC contractor was boasting to our group about the $150K geothermal heating and cooling system his company recently installed in a NJ home. The system was top shelf, top price, and his client had no problems paying for it.

Shortly after the new HVAC system was installed, however, his client called to say that one room in his house was still feeling very cold and uncomfortable. The HVAC contractor explained to his client how the system was properly sized and was delivering as designed. The problem, said the HVAC contractor, was that the house was old and not properly weathersealed. So the HVAC contractor then sold his client another $50K in weathersealing to make sure each and every room was finally comfortable.

This story made me wonder why the HVAC contractor didn’t start with an energy audit. This might have cost the client a couple of thousand dollars for a larger home — which I assume it was — but that audit would have suggested weathersealing first, and then HVAC system upgrades, as needed. The new HVAC systems would have then been smaller and less expensive for the newly efficient weathersealed home.

The obvious answer is that this HVAC pro wanted to make the largest sale possible. In fact, he made two large sales: the oversized HVAC system, plus the energy efficiency upgrades to the house.

Make no mistake we are in business to make money, but, at our company, we pride ourselves on helping our clients spend wisely.

A really good residential general contractor is a lot like your family doctor. Just like your family’s GP, it is our job to know the personality of your home, its special flaws and its unique features. We work with you to correct problems in a holistic fashion you can live with. Sure, sometimes, you do have to spend a lot of money on your home. But at other times, the simple, less-expensive solution is the right one. A great GC will pride himself or herself on helping you make the best choice.

Guys, Gadgetry, Home Efficiency and the Bottom Line

A landscaper friend recently told me that, “When it comes to landscaping, the husband ALWAYS controls decisions about the lawn.” In remodeling, we have a parallel example. From our experience, gadgets are usually the domain of the man of the house.

TVs = man domain. I have a male friend who has a 6′ plasma TV in the living room, a huge speedboat, and a black Hummer that usually has a beer in the cupholder. His idea of “decorating,” God love him, is a TV in every room.

Audio-visual gadgets = man stuff. The guys love these electrical, blinking gizmos.

“Strap on green gadgets” like solar cells and geothermal heating systems = “green” man goodies.

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Save Thousands of Dollars By Using One of These!

We get a lot of calls from home owners who have stars in their eyes for solar arrays, geo thermal heat/cooling, or other fancy expensive “green” gadgets.

Here is a device that costs around $100 or less that can save you thousands of dollars in energy bills. Better yet, you can buy one at the home center and even install this yourself.

These are programable thermostats. A programable thermostat allows you to program various temperature settings into it, so you only use the fuel you need to be comfortable when you need it.

The thermostat on the left handles whole house/zone heating and cooling. You can see, its set for 57 degrees. Thats our “away” setting for the house. This thermostat, combined with some new insulation and the low settings when we were sleeping or away from home saved us well over 20% in heating costs last winter.

The thermostat on the right is for the electric radiant heat in our foyer area. This can be an efficient way to heat a room but it has to be planned for before renovation.

Call us if you need a hand.

When There Is No GC All Hell Can Break Loose

Some folks don’t know what a residential general contractor (GC) does.

The great Tom Silva on “This Old House” says it best: “A GC is a lot like a baseball coach. He or she puts the right player in the right position at the right time.” A great GC will also make sure that you are getting the best quality for your money and the right solution for a particular problem your home is having.

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