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Lost a boiler job

As others have mentioned, many customers shop by price and price alone with no regard for the long term consequences. If you are buying an item such as a SONY stereo, then shopping by price is a wise thing to do. As we all know, in our industry, we sell service, comfort and a sense of confidence. A while back, Dan added a really neat item in the HOT TECH TOPICS portion of this site and is intended to serve as a tool for contractors to help justify their prices. The article can be found here:


It pays to wander off the Wall!!


  • Jeremy
    Jeremy Member Posts: 52
    Lost a boiler job

    Man things are getting tuff. Lost a 2 zone boiler job to another company today. I saw the bid and I know for sure I wont go install a quality heating system and only profit $360.00 for the job. I would rather run service and maintenance calls. Anybody else out there going through this??
  • EricAune
    EricAune Member Posts: 432
    I agree

    Sorry to hear that Jeremy. Where are you located?

    I have seen a few jobs lately that have been bid for wages. Either its guys that are off work and looking to make a buck or those that just have no idea what it takes to get these jobs done right.

    "If you don't like change, your going to like irrelevance even less"
  • Rich Kontny_3
    Rich Kontny_3 Member Posts: 562
    Started in early 2008

    It is called "keeping the wheels turning" firms taking work at cost to keep key people on board. As an estimator for a mechanical contractor I saw bids going for 15% below cost. Often times those who forgot things on their bid took the job anyway.

    I'm referring to public bids such as fire stations and schools. Will not improve anytime soon.
  • Chris S
    Chris S Member Posts: 177

    I'm seeing the same thing. The bid lists are 2- 3 times larger than normal. We have 2 out right now- I'm not very optomistic, nor am I counting on either one coming in. Contractors from far away, and large spreads on the bid openings.
    The way I see it your number has to be your number, and don't worry about what the other guys are doing.
  • I may be lucky,

    in my neck of the woods, as no-one here understands anything.
    Oh ya,, I loose bids, but it aint long before I get the fix-ups as no-one here knows or understands much about hydronics.Low temp radiant? 10 D temp drop?,,, no idea what we`re talking about.
    Wholesalers here still give out "road-map" designs to anybody for free!

  • Jeremy
    Jeremy Member Posts: 52
    Pottstown, Pa

    Eric-we are located in Pottstown, Pa. Approx 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia
  • KevinCorr
    KevinCorr Member Posts: 106

    I think that even in real good times there are those guys working for nothing, but we don't notice so much because we are busy.
    As long as I have been in the trades, (the 1970's), I have seen these low bidders going broke or staying poor. They figure that if they can't be good they can be cheap. Yes, there are expensive ones that are not very good either but you can compete with that.
    Many people want the cheapest and don't care about the long run.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Cheap is not inexpensive.

    "Many people want the cheapest and don't care about the long run."

    I agree with you, but they are crazy. If they buy a house that they are going to flip in a very few years, why replace the heating system at all? And if they are going to hold it longer, the cheap system may provide an uncomfortable place to live, and cost more to heat and maintain. So the total cost of ownership will be higher. I wonder if anyone buys a house, or refuses to buy it, because of its heating system. I might, but probably not.

    For my house, I do not know how long the long run is. But the existing oil-fired boiler was almost 60 years old, and had its original burner (GE) replaced with a Beckett about 35 years ago. Now the Beckett was a pretty good burner and was still working, and the boiler was not leaking even though I ran it in nearly condensing mode because it was way over capacity for the house and cycled every few minutes. I did not know that running it in condensing mode was a bad idea at the time. So what shape was it in?

    Anyhow, I have no idea when I die, but it is probably before I get to be 100, and I am 71. So what is the long run? If I knew I would die next week, I would not have done anything. But one never knows that. And besides that, a young (compared to me) friend inherits this house when I die, and I would not want to stick her with a boiler twice her age.
  • Chris S
    Chris S Member Posts: 177

    On public bid jobs, IMO if the municipality is inexperienced in construction projects. By this I mean they haven't done one in anybodys recent memory, and don't remember the pitfalls... They are anxious to take the low bid. In mant cases bound to take the low bid. This is where the Architect or engineer fails in his/her job for not advising against a too low bid. In the end they get what they paid for, and all the rest of us move on to the next one. It sucks though when it happens where you live.

    As for those who are not bound to take a low bid- homeowners & building owners, some can't help themselves, some make mistakes, some think it's possible for people to work for wages & stay in business. They also get what they pay for. " You have to have a lot of money to be cheap, so you can pay for it twice"
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666

    " You have to have a lot of money to be cheap, so you can pay for it twice"

    You remind me of Taco's slogan, "Do It Once, Do It Right."

    And something I used to ask, where I used to work (not original with me), "Why do we never have time to do it right, but we always find time to do it over?"
  • van_8
    van_8 Member Posts: 12

    Price is what you pay value is what you get!
  • The Boiler Dr.
    The Boiler Dr. Member Posts: 163
    My father

    Used to use that line on me ALL the time! With a twist however .. If YOU can't do it right the first time - how do you expect ME to find the time to do it over?
This discussion has been closed.