Pennsylvania The Agony of Obtaining an Accurate Proposal

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by Anjou, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Anjou

    Anjou New Member

    I live in a thermodynamically-complicated, super insulated (generally R-28 walls and R-56 ceilings), South-facing, tri-level house (cellar @ 1500 sf; 1st floor @ 1500 sf, and loft @ 1000 sf). In 2015, 4 contractors came to provide a quote; only one took any measurements. Three never responded, the fourth declined to bid since I wanted a performance guarantee. In January 2019, I decided to try again without the performance guarantee. It took five weeks, but I managed to acquire three very non-descript proposals. What I have provided below is pretty much the entirety of the technical details (note the absence of wellfield info).

    Proposal 1: 3-ton ClimateMaster Tranquility 30 for $31K w/ 3 zones & hot water generation; 2 wells @ 225'
    Proposal 2: 4-ton ClimateMaster TZV-048 for $26K w/ no zoning or hot water generation
    Proposal 3: 5-ton Bosch SM060 for $27K w/ hot water generation, but no zoning; 750' bore

    Each contractor was told to do the ACCA design with Manuals J, T, S, D, Zr, yet I get three disparate proposals. Contractor 2 refused to provide block heating/cooling loads without a signed contract and would only provide the wellfield details AFTER installation. Contractor 3 never took a single measurement or asked about any insulation values... and they claim to be IGSHPA certified installers. Contractor 4 (ClimateMaster or Water Furnace) arrived and told me a proposal would be available in a week. After 6 weeks of not responding, they have decided to return next week to presumably start the process over. I'm not surprised because although the 40-year HVAC veteran was onsite for 4 hours, he only measured the outer perimeter.

    Any advice? Some have suggested that geothermal is not ready for prime time and that I should go with an air source heat pump, but that doesn't resolve the problem with properly calculating the block heating/cooling loads, which are required for any HVAC system.
  2. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Be strong and stay your course! The devil is in the details. Do not give up and continue to ask for loads and calculations. The real pro will present themselves eventually. It may be proposal 4 or 8. You are the customer spending hard earned monies, not them.
    Hope this helps
  3. Anjou

    Anjou New Member

    Thank you for the pep talk, Eric. This project has been dragging me into the depths of despair and my dear wife has had to endure the Dog Days of Summer another year without A/C. Do you think I should consider hiring an IGSHPA-certified, residential geothermal designer (CRD)? The main impediment with that approach is there are only three in the country and none are within 1000 miles.
  4. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    No matter how disparaging the companies on the playing field are now, I am interested in performance, both loop and unit. Who will put their money where their design is and offer monies to back up their claims if the design falls short. Not all geo is as technical as we might believe. In the end it is all about your comfort.
  5. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You only need the outside perimeter measurements for heat loss, the outside wall area matters.

    We do give performance guarantee, both that it will heat your house, and it will do so efficiently.

    So each contractor was told to do the ACCA design with Manuals J, T, S, D, Zr, you expect all of them to do a lot of work, but only one , or none, will get the job. I would not do that either.

    We give people estimates, I run all the numbers after the contract is signed, we give them a performance guarantee, and if they need a larger system, we put a larger system in at our own cost.
    Customers want high performance and low cost, I can only deliver this if the overhead stays down. You have a quote from me the next day I looked at your house, or the same day. You might be complicating things too much, the house your are describing has a heat loss between 40-60 KBTU/h, you need a 5 ton variable speed heat pump, it will find its sweet spots, not use supplement heat, and zoning for your 3 floors, so you and your contractor can move on with your/their life.

    Be happy to help, I am a CGD, free of charge. PM me.

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