Buying, selling or renovating a home. You should read this first!

Thinking of buying, building or renovating a house? You should read this first.

HVAC and Mechanical contractors in regards to new home construction or renovation projects, in the Calgary area in particular, I have been astounded at the prices quoted by builders for the completion of boiler systems, furnace and air conditioning systems and other home mechanical systems. Numerous people, who are either in the midst of building or are planning on building a new home, have been asking me whether certain prices provided by builders are fair. In some cases the prices were good and in other cases they were drastically over priced. Why? The reasons are numerous, but markup is the key here. Builders who use their preferred HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) and/or Mechanical contractors apply a markup to the price provided by the contractor. In some cases 75% or higher. Now that is just plain greed, no matter how you look at it. Perhaps the builders are vacationing in Mexico off the fruits of your labor, who knows. There can be no justification for a builder to markup prices by that margin. None! We advocate fair pricing and provide more than fair pricing to builders who ask us to quote on projects. Also, we have been asked to look over pricing that builders have provided. Not all builders mark prices up like this. But there are enough of them out there that do, and that should be a concern for all. It is no wonder that we have some of the highest building costs anywhere, associated with home building and mechanical system completions. And I, more than anyone, understand the costs associated with conducting a legitimate business, what with the cost of liability insurance, licenses, staff and other business related costs. However there is no excuse for the high markups I have seen on some products and services.

Homeowners who are planning a major renovation or those people planning on building their dream home should be aware that there are alternatives to high pricing. I would advocate dealing directly with your HVAC or Mechanical contractor of choice. Do your due diligence and get second or third opinions before accepting the builder supplied pricing.

Another pet peeve of mind has to do with home inspections. Now most banks, during their mortgage approval process demand a home inspection, in doing their due diligence, in ensuring the home has no serious issues with problems such as structure, roofing, mold and moisture finding its way through the building envelope. However, the most important components in your home is the mechanical systems. That being the heating, cooling, drainage and plumbing system in the home. These are big ticket items in that they can cost tens of thousands of dollars to rectify. Most home inspectors have little or no knowledge of these critical systems, yet they play a major role in the comfort and value of your home. Overlooking these items can be expensive and annoying in particular since you laid out enormous amounts of money to buy or renovate your dream home. Most of these issues can be discovered with a home mechanical inspection by a reputable company. And while this process might not be cheap initially, it pays off in the long run. How old is the furnace, hot water tank or air conditioning unit? How would you know with just a home inspection? So insist on a home mechanical inspection as well. Due your due diligence prior to purchasing, renovating or building perhaps the biggest investment in your lives.

A little bit of homework is well worth the effort to ensure minimal problems down the road and it also increases the resale value of your home should you decide to sell your home down the road. No one likes a lemon except perhaps as a garnish!

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