Hot summers like this remind me why it’s so important to have a good relationship with an HVAC contractor. Once our temperatures start hitting 90 degrees on a consistent basis, our phone starts ringing with A/C issues from our tenants. Luckily, we figured out years ago that having a great relationship with an HVAC contractor was paramount to running a successful real estate business.
This topic is fresh on my mind because I just purchased a property from a seller who agreed to have an A/C unit installed at the property at the time of closing. While I should have paid closer attention to the make and model of the A/C unit, I was buying the property from somebody I knew and assumed the A/C unit would be new and installed properly. Much to my chagrin, the A/C unit that they had installed was a 10 year old unit that had been pieced together and which was installed incorrectly. While I am sure they had not intended to pay for an A/C unit in such bad condition, the bottom line is both of us ended up getting taken by a dirty HVAC contractor.
It turns out this is more common than you would think. In fact, the Today Show on NBC recently aired a segment that highlighted just how unethical this industry has become. NBC’s correspondent, Jeff Rosen, called on 6 different contractors to come out to a particular house and give an estimate to repair the A/C unit. Amazingly, all 6 of these contractors tried to charge the homeowner for unnecessary repairs.
Having purchased well over one hundred HVAC systems over the years, I’ve learned a little about setting ourselves up for success with our properties.
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Here are 5 tips to help make your HVAC install a smooth one
1.) Use Reputable Contractors – based on everything I’ve mentioned above and years of experience, I cannot stress this enough. Take the time to find a contractor with a good reputation and one who stands by their work. It’s really not worth saving a few bucks to go with the fly-by-night contractor. This will almost always end up costing more in the end.
2.) Don’t Install Used Units – I don’t know what it is about real estate investors, but they are notorious for installing used units. While a used unit may be enticing because of the price, they almost always end up creating more problems and expense in the end. I did this a few times when I was first starting out in real estate and it simply wasn’t worth it.
3.)Install Properly sized units – If there is some debate on the size of the unit that should be installed, err on the side of a larger HVAC system rather than a smaller one. An undersized unit will definitely create headaches for you down the road. The last thing you want to hear in the middle of the summer is a tenant complaining about the fact that the house won’t cool below 75 degrees.
4.) Use Proper Insulation – You can have a great contractor install a properly sized system in your property but still have problems if the house is not insulated. When installed properly, insulation can help your unit reach the desired temperature and save on utility bills.
5. Install an A/C cage – I realize some investor would disagree with me on this, but I’ve seen A/C units get stolen in all types of areas. From high-end neighborhoods to inner-city rentals, just about any property is susceptible to this crime. Our cages are installed for $200 dollars and are worth every penny.
HVAC systems are one of the biggest expenses when it comes to rehabbing. It is important that investors form good relationships and make good decisions when it comes to this aspect of a renovation. A good HVAV installation has the potential to be worry free for years to come, but a bad installation can cause all sorts of unnecessary problems. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing it right the first time!