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radiant customers--chuck shaw

chuck shaw
chuck shaw Member Posts: 584
In the past month, I have gotten calls from 3 prospective customers. All either building new homes, or doing major renovations. All want radiant heating. However, they have told me, they want me to design they system and that they want to install the the tubing, and have me do the boiler and controls.

I see it as labor income falling right out of my pocket. I have told them, that if they do the install, rather than me, I will not warrenty the final outcome, because I cant control their installation techniques.

Is anyone else running into this, or is this just local to southeastern Mass


Chuck Shaw

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  • Roger Link
    Roger Link Member Posts: 15
    losing labor

    We offered the customer the option for them to install the tubing when we were first starting to install HRH systems. At first we wanted to get as much experience and try to make it affordable for anyone who was thinking about adding radiant to ther new home.I was so excited about selling systems that I was willing to lower our prices and work with other contractors such as plumbing or general just to get the business. I guess many of you have done the same thing. What I offered was an on site supervision fee to oversee the installation to make sure they were doing a proper job. But on at least 50% of the initial inquiries by those wanting to do their own tubing installations, we ended up installing the tubing either because they decided they didn't have the time or that it was more involved than they first thought. Now after about 5 years of offering HRH systems we still are willing to work with the HO to let them be involved in the installation but it has become easier to convince them that they are not really saving that much. It really depends on the individual person and their abilities.
  • Molson
    Molson Member Posts: 6

    Oh yes. I recently had a customer who just wanted to HELP me install in slab. At first he had nice suggestions, which turned to small critisism, which turned to he was an expert and was right about everything and I was a big waste of money. In the end it wasted more time and the Customer did not want to pay for his origionally quoted bill. In the future I will be more assertive, even to the point of insulting by packing up and leaveing, because it is not worth it to work in this manner. Further more I would not install any controls or boilers where homeowners themselves installed the tubing. It seems like a bad trap. I can imagine the extra time it takes to figure the customer installs 100ft, 500ft, and 1000 ft loops - and guess where the fingers will be pointing. It will be your fault and your heating system. If your a gambleing person and let the homeowner do the tube, and you do the boiler and controls and it turns out ok then its the homeowner's heating system. You can't win.
    Its all or nothing.
  • Massplumber
    Massplumber Member Posts: 8
    Tubing install

    Chuck, put your foot down now and say no. Word get's out you allow this and yes a good part of your labor will be gone for good. To many H.o's see the tubing being installed on the saturday afternoon do-it-yourself show's and think...boy that looks fun and easy.hope you make the right choice. Geo
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    I'll do it if..

    The customer has to come to my shop to see whats involved. I go through the tube, insulation, and manifold installation. I can gauge their comfort level and mechanical experience.

    If they want to give it a try I then do a calc, get a deposit, and send them detailed drawings, test manifolds and repair kits. I offer to check the job before they pour. They understand the importance of loop lengths, documantation, zoneing, photos, etc.. after class! And even if they go with someone elses system they learn enough at my shop to ask questions and get a good install, tube wise, I feel.

    After I show them my mechanical rooms, rarely do they want to tackle that part of the job. If they do I will prefab a panel. I strongly recommend they hire a licensed plumber or heating contractor for any gas, vent and boiler installs. Around here many systems are small electric powered.

    I have been sucessful in getting jobs that were about to go with an internet system with little or no calcs, drawings, support or listed tubing.

    It's pretty easy to spot the customers that are not capable of the tubing install and I either sell them on my turn key system or price them out of my DIY kits :)

    Good money in it if done properly. I haven't had a problem yet, and these customers are starting to tell friends and neighbors. Keep in mind I live in a very rual area. Most folks around here are pretty hands on farmers, ranchers, working with their hands type. Not many stockbroker, lawyer desk jockey types around here. I suspect the white collar folks go with turn key and realize where money is well spent, and made :)

    I can pack a lot of info and value into a DIY system when they compare mine to the www. com systems!

    Depends on the customer and your attitude, generally.

    hot rod

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