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Contractors as unpaid consultants

joel_19 Member Posts: 931
Always price jobs to make money regardless of wether your suppling the equipment. we tell them sure , but we will still get our markup and there will be no warrantee.


  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246

    I wonder if any of you folks have visited this website. Here is an excerpt:

    "If you choose to purchase from a consumer-direct retailer, you have several options:

    -- You can hire an HVAC contractor to perform a load calculation for you. This is an excellent solution, providing you know a contractor that is willing to work piecemeal with you on this project.

    -- You can purchase load calculation software and perform the calculation yourself.

    -- You can rely on an estimate of the appropriate load (i.e. buy a unit the same size as the unit you are replacing, or use a load calculation "rule of thumb". FurnaceCompare recommends that you do a full load calculation -- rules of thumb often provide poor results."

    Notice the one statement: "...a contractor who is willing to work piecemeal with you..."

    How many of you would be willing to do a load calculation, get paid, and walk away from the project? I may be way off base, but this just doesn't seem like the smartest thing to do.
  • subcooler
    subcooler Member Posts: 140

    There is a few customers that I can think of that I would do that for with a smile. Then make a B-line to their bank and cash the check. You asked, I told.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
  • You get what you pay for...

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

    Add value to the job...

    Leave them a card and tell them when the other "card" is done messing things up you'll try and get by and see if you can fix'er...


    Why would I want to work for you for nothing? I already work for myself for nothing most of the time any way...

    The list goes on, and on, and...

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    Fielded a call this morning just like it........................

    ".....the "contractor ran all the piping for you....ALL you gotta do is connect it....[after I expressed my disinterest and skeptism]but what if I don't hold you responsible if it doesn't work?????" I've learned boys...Mad Dog

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  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
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  • ed wallace
    ed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
    unpaid consultant

    my story new condo owner valls me my steam systems not working right can you look at it was a total mess condo owner calls in the contractor i explain everything thats wrong contractor says i will have my plumber fix problems contractor leaves homeowner gets the boiler fixed for free refuses to pay me claims consult should be free someday he will get his from the corporate world

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  • Don \"Grumpy\" Walsh
    Don \"Grumpy\" Walsh Member Posts: 184
    Shame on who?

    No one can take advantage of you without your allowing them to do so. When asked to "consult" on an existing problem, tell the customer that your fee is $xxx.00 and you will submit a written report upon receipt of their check. Many times our "I can fix anything" mentality overshadows good business sense. Charge for your time, it is a commodity of limited resource.
  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    true story

    While teaching at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, I thought it would be a hoot to list the odd sizing methods (we joke about) on a Power Point slide and slip that in between other ones that were serious.

    The look on their faces was priceless as they tried to understand why the curb nethod would work for both heating & A/C if you simply turned your hand 90-degrees. I'd been so serious for hours on end and they'd come to trust what I was telling them. By the time I got to the doorway method, they were beginning to question the wisdom. "How can the curb method work?" "What if the curb is close to or far away from the home?" They get a smaller or larger boiler - of course.

    Self busted on the doorway deal though. After they performed the heat loss calcs on the classroom/lab area, we selected a boiler. One of them asked how wide the doorway was & - as it turned out - that was the largest model we could have fit through the opening! Lots of chuckles.

    Free advice has the same value in the end. I warrant no one elses work and do not provide heat loss/gain calculation information (in detail) without a signed contract.

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  • ttekushan_2
    ttekushan_2 Member Posts: 57
    last time I tried that

    "tell the customer that your fee is $xxx.00"

    I told the customer to give me a dollar, three kisses and two hugs. Got a slap across the face instead. Didn't get the dollar either.

    Sorry. Told myself I would be less serious today.

  • Tom_35
    Tom_35 Member Posts: 265
    Customer supplies the equipment

    I'm in Ft. Smith, Arkansas which is one of the "homes" of Rheem/Ruud and Trane. The Rheem/Ruud plant allows their employees to purchase equipment below distributor cost. They are supposed to use the equipment for their own personal use, but many times they are getting it for friends, relatives, etc. There is a huge difference in price from what the contractor pays and what the employee pays. The plant also donates equipment to numerous goodwill businesses. This is all well and good for those folks but presents a problem for the contractor.

    We have gone out on jobs, performed load calcs, etc and then be asked how much the job would cost if they provided the equipment. Several years ago we spent many hours working on the design of the HVAC with an architect. We provided pricing for the job and then were asked to delete all the equipment as Rheem was donating 100% of it. Not wanting to lose all the hours we had in the job, we were able to negoiate a percentage of the margins we had in the equipment, but we still were not able to get anywhere near the margins we needed, especially with all the design time that had been spent. We also ended up having to cover the first year warranty on the equipment that we didn't sell.

    We try very hard to avoid these situations now.

    Tom Atchley

  • DeirdreLouisville
    DeirdreLouisville Member Posts: 33
    I think paid consultant is a more accurate term.....

    The market is in great need of top notch consultants who would charge for their time and expertise, while leaving the work to others.

    As a homeowner, I would be thrilled to have a real pro come in diagnose my home's needs and draw up the best possible plan and I would happily pay $100 an hour (topping out at about 6 hours) for that. I would be reassured by the opinion of someone who didn't have a financial stake in the outcome.

    I love this forum and lurk here often, but I think you guys underestimate how in the dark most of homeowners are about your craft and how often we feel confused by multiple estimates that are all over the map (not only in price, but often in the diagnosis of the problem as well).
  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,472
    I was offered

    a position last year to work as a consultant to an archetech to design and oversee all of his jobs with radiant floors. Seemed like an attractive offer at first. I then started asking the rhetorical question, where does my responsibility begin and end? What if the installing contractor doesn't install things right, and the problem is buried in cement? What if, what if, what if. I posed a question about it on The Wall and Hot Rod hit the nail on the head when he asked, Would you really want to design a system and not have control of the outcome? Easy answer. No Way! Now he just gives me as many of his radiant jobs as I can handle. Seems his other mech contractors were not getting it done correctly. On the original question, what if you got payed for a residential heat load and it didnt work? What recourse would the HO have? WW

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  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,431
    why not...

    tell the customer you have a fee for diagnostics and charge accordingly? I never look at a forensic repair without a fee. I tell the customer on the initial phone call what the fees are and my terms of payment. Then they have a a professional for professional advice...or not.

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