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Some times you have to laugh a little...

Here is a story I want to share, I just went to a service call {we have 2-3ft of snow, so now is when everything breaks...

This is a customer I priced a job for. About 7 months ago I drove 40 minutes to measure the job, and then drove back down to go over what I was going to do and use for equipment {so that is almost 3 hours of driving, 2 hours of measuring, and 3 hours of getting the heatloss and proposal done} only to not get the job because, and I quote "Your price is 2 times higher than another bid I received", I replied "No hard feelings, thanks for letting me know, and thanks for the chance at the job"... I proposed a Buderus G315 {for those of you who are familiar with the equipment just the burner is over $2500, my price on the job was under $30K and there was a lot to the job, I bid low because it was warm and could keep my guys busy for a week with it...

Well he got someone else to do it and now yesterday I get a service call from the property owners secretary, to see if I can come and see what has to be done to get them heat...

So I am curious and was only about 15 minutes away from the property, so I said sure, Ill come check it out.. As I am pulling in the owner is getting in his car, I think he was trying to not be there when I got there, and didn't expect me so fast... But he bit the bullet and greeted me at my truck, I followed him to the boiler room where I was astonished at what I seen......

This is a large apartment house, I believe there are 22 units in total, I want to say I recommended 550K-BTU, the original boiler was an oversized WeilMclain/2 stage Carlin setup that froze when the building was in foreclosure....

Whom ever he got to do the job {no permit pulled} installed 2 Williamson 6 section boilers {say 180K btu each max}!!!! And did a terrible job, he was standing there with me so I didn't take a picture {thought it would be in bad taste}. But I asked if it ever worked, and he said the first floor get warm but no others, as Im standing there the pressure relief valves both pop off at the same time and a sump pump kicks on, I almost laughed out loud, when he said that the installer gave him the sump pumps for free!!!!

My exact words were "sir, I am so sorry but I can NOT legally touch this, I would much rather make like I never seen it, the tenants you have will be cold for the rest of the winter and probably shouldn't feel safe living over this mess {smoke pipe actually screwed to wood beams and no draft regs}, because you saved a bunch of money" He asked what the actual problem was, I said it has to be taken out and done rite, a bunch of little boilers isn't the answer....

He asked if I could install the rite boiler {this guy has 18 apartments rented at between 900-1150 per month}, and I told him that my old price was good for 45 days, and it would be over $30K now... He didn't seem happy, but asked when it would be done... I don't know who has the boiler in stock but I told him 3 weeks... I got a message from him asking if I can have it done in 2 weeks and get the price as close to $30K as possible, oh and he wants to know if Ill give him a credit if he lets me keep them boilers lol, this guy has HUGE BALLS....

Anyway, I just wanted to share....


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,656

    you just have to wonder what makes some folks tick...

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106
    edited February 2013
    Like Chris's signature

    " the bitter taste of a poor install lasts much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price".

    A spin on one of Ben Franklins quotes.

    If you don't have the money to do it right the first time you sure do not the second time either.

    I have a friend I'm helping renovate his log home he bought from the 70's . No havac all baseboard electric.

    He was going to wait till spring, but it told him now is the time while we are renovating . He got three bids for a farced air system. With considerable differences in price.

    He asked what I thought. I said you get what you pay for, and you need to level the playing field on what each bid is giving you.

    Remember there is no system. It's a log home with floating interior partition walls.

    One quote was for two systems all duct work hidden.

    Middle quote was for conventional on main floor, and mini spits up stairs.

    Low quote was for one air handler in basement, and exposed spiral duct work for second floor.

    Now he is into the industrial look so the exposed spiral ductwork caught his attention.

    Anyway he went with the low bid which was 1/2 of the high bid. I explained to him he needs to fully communicate what he wants. A heat loss, ductwork done in a quality manor.

    Well he saved money, and got a system that was thumbed in, and looks like a two year old did the ductwork. Joints not fully inserted, matter a fact falling a part. The guy would be there when no one else was. Doing his work. I would show up during the day and knock a part his marginal connections showing the owner the quality of his work. It took this guy 2 months to do a 3 day job.

    The day before he said he was going to be done he came in with a case of ductwork tape. Nothing ever got reworked to,fit. Had to beg for dampers to control air flow. Three bedrooms have one diffuser the laundry room diffuser was installed behind the door that will be open 80% of the time.the foyer, and downstairs bath wouldn't make a candle flicker.with the blower on high.

    It is an Armstrong 95% efficient furnace with an ECM blower motor. This is about the only thing the installer bragged about that the blower is variable speed ECM that only uses 100 watts. My reply was what good is that when the blower runs constantly, and it does not even close to a design day here yet.

    Anyway sorry to ramble but this hits close to home.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Or mine:

    There's never enough time to do it right. But always time for someone else to do it over.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    taped up spiral, looks terrible...

    I never use tape on exposed duct work {if its insulated obviously, I do} and never spiral duct... Hopefully your friend learned his lesson....

    I walked on a job that another contractor was having trouble with, he won the bid for 12 condo units and was going to start getting fined because it had been 2 months and he only had 3 ready for finals... I got there and did 7 in the time he did the other 2 {which was under 3 weeks and we made the plenoms and transitions for his 2}... He admitted my work looked so much better and went so fast, I didnt have an answer for him, but the truth is, thats what we do, he normally does commercial hot water systems but since that is slow he bid this job and almost let it bury him...

    People need to look at the entire picture, I know its vain but you can tell a lot by the contractors truck if nothing else... If the guy pulls up in a 1995 suburu outback with his tools in the hatchback, than you probably want to keep on looking... If he doesnt have literature and business cards with licence numbers, probably not the best contractor out there.. If hes not in the phone book, that is a red flag... If he doesn't do a detailed proposal with heat loss results and product literature he is most likely rule of thumbing the entire job... If that is what you want to spend your money on, than take the gamble...

    I know when I had my inground pool put in, we had a price of $12,500, $20K even, and $17,800...

    The guy for $12,500 said he subbed out the excavation when I asked what kind of machine he used and didn't even walk around where I wanted the pool, didnt ask where my septic system was or anything just gave me a verbal quote....

    The $20K guy asked me where my septic system was and walked around where the pool was going, but he was in a hurry also gave a verbal quote..

    The $17,800, didnt have to ask where my septic was, he came with the plans from my town hall that he went and go on his own, he had another guy with him and measured and marked my septic system {which isnt real close to the pool but needed to be marked so no one drives a machine over it}, he took a shovel out of his truck and had his helper dig a test hole, he also had a list of pools in the area he had done, with customers phone numbers, he told me the verbal quote and about 2 days later I got a printed quote in the mail... Very professional.... He did a wonderful job, and called me half way through the season to make sure everything was OK, he even came over for no charge and gave me a hand the first year winterization ....

    So you get what you pay for..

    The old timers say, "FAST, CHEAP, or RIGHT, pick any two" ...
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106
    Some pics

    I'll take some today of the "finished product".

    He did not use tape on the exposed spiral, but his reducers elbows, and connections were regular duct. Looks tacky.
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106
    Some pics for heat pro

    These are the diffuser outlets each bedroom averages 15 by 15 one diffuser per room at door way master bedroom has cathedral ceiling. The other two are the bathrooms
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited February 2013
    OH MY GOD!?!?!?!

    How did he talk your friend into that?? WTF, I get customers that complain when I use a different size supply register in their kitchen than in their parlor!!! This guy got away with this mess... Dont get me wrong I have done a bunch of exposed spiral duct, but I use spiral duct registers {curved} and never round registers with an elbow at the end of the run in a house!!! For that bath room he should have just put a one way wall registers on the wall instead of the abortion sticking out of the wall a foot.... And for the end of the run I would use a spiral duct curved register on the bottom of the pipe with a cap at the end of the spiral duct, no elbows... You do get what you pay for, I wonder how it is sized, and what he gets for temp variations and noise.. No A/C in this house?

    How about that round diffuser pointed to the side, its blowing half of its cfm at the ceiling.... Looks like a nice house too what a shame..
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106
    edited February 2013

    I kept saying the same things you are, and yes there is ac in the system. 110000 btu furnace 4 ton ac. Gotta get the cfm there though.

    That bath pic I'm standing at the exterior wall where the shower, and commode is. Think it'll be a little chilly.

    The diffusers in the bedrooms are at the entry door basically opposite side of the exterior walls.

    Like I said looks like a two year old playing with his erector set did it.

    One return down stairs on main floor where he used the chase I built to make the wee little chimney look bigger, and stoned it. He used the right side for return , and left side for 12" round to the second floor. He was not even going to sheet metal the chase which would have just pulled air from any where but the room. Had to tell him he needs dampers on his supply ducts to balance. The answer I got was he does that at the end?.?? Why wouldn't you put them in while assembling your ductwork? Oh yeah that's why he cut them so only about a 1/2 " goes in the connection.

    During the day that furnace ramps up and down constantly that ECM variable speed blower he brags about is not very quiet either. He kept boasting its using less than 100 watt lightbulb for power what good is that if it runs constantly?

    I fear the ac in the summer will be pitiful

    He wanted the exposed duct work as a trade off in saving some money, but make look like it has some functional purpose for cryin out loud

    The spare bath is about as good,as it gets

    The bedrooms could have been configured with a long section of duct along tight to the wall with duct diffusers like you said.

    The master bath could have taken that duct above the mirror tight to the wall with an in line, and end cap,diffuser to get some heat to the commode. There is a walk in closet soon to be cooler right off the master bath with 2 outside walls to the north west.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Really nice clean holes through the walls.
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106

    Yeah I would give him a gold star for that.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    I hope that insulated or dual wall spiral pipe, for the A/C....
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,106
    Dual wall pipe

    Nota think it'll sweat hmmmm
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited February 2013
    I figured NOT, insulated sprial is $$$expensive$$$

    SOOOOOOoooooo no insulation, how did it pass inspection, around here all cooling supplied duct work has to be insulated {I do R6 most residential and R8 commercial}.....

    it is going to sweat but that is the least of his problems wait until the mold starts... Good thing he saved a few bucks he is going to need it for bleach and prednisone...

    Thats too bad, but the low bid is hardly ever the rite one....

    I used dual wall spiral for a motorcycle dealership, granted it was a decent amount of material but just the spiral cost was over $19K uninsulated would have been around $8K, lol

    How much could he have saved, I have done many log homes, I actually finished one at the end of my street last summer, I installed 3 hydro air units {one for second floor, one for master bed on first floor, and one for remainder of first floor, master bedroom zoning was important to them} with a Buderus G115 {Buderus LT tank, stacked} also installed some decent Armstrong heat pump a/c units, set the house up with an outdoor reset {heat pump works for cool and heat {until its really cold then buderus kicks in}. Anyway not an inch of exposed duct work, I ran the second floor unit in the attic {log cabin attics suck} and the other 2 in the basement, all insulated, all done to code and the cost was around 20K, so how much could he have saved? That house had baseboard and was also getting a remodel, it was foreclosed and bought "as is" with all the copper ripped out {by the old homeowner}, so the new owners remodeled a lot of the home also...

    But anyway your friend got a single furnace and a hack job install with no hot water, and no aux. system at all, what could he have saved, people need to look at more than the price when they get proposals....
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