22 Jun 2014

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building.

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building. No Comments

My perspectives on trends in the residential h.v.a.c market

Entitled: Be careful of what you wish for! You might get it.


As a a/c mechanic for quite a few years I have noticed swings in the industry and a few times in the past did not react fast enough to deal with them. This time is different I am finally mature enough to make the correct changes in order to deal with what is happening in the residential h.v.a.c market and the new construction market. I am dealing with it by getting out of it for the most part. And concentrating on being a full service repair company.

Everything has changed! People have changed!

I started down in Westchester and the Bronx and because I had warranty contracts with large companies I also ventured into Putnam county in order to solve difficult problems for the company holding the warranty. I serviced air conditioners in all income brackets and all different shapes and size houses, condo’s etc. I have walked in and out of American homes since the late 1970’s. And I can tell you that what people want in a home has changed dramatically and it has an effect on what you get. Because these new trends involve a budget that does  not really account for top rated mechanical work and even people who would expect top rated mechanical work do nothing to ensure it’s getting done. I think in the future i may form a business in which customers can hire me to make sure there homes have sound mechanical systems installed.

Most small builders have gone out of business for the most part. There are still some around but the majority of construction is being done by large corporations. And what they supply is pretty and has a lot of fluff, but underneath all that fluff is a maze of bad work that has to be fixed one day and who foots that bill is still to be seen.

Why do they do this and why do we buy it in the numbers we do? The answer is we have changed. Our priorities have changed. They give us what we want and not what we need. What we need is a well made utilitarian home in which most of the resources that were put into the home were for solid construction practices and high quality skilled tradesman that helped to create a home for you that would give you very little problems for many years to come. I was lucky in that as a young man I was able to see older h.v.a.c systems installed by true craftsman, thirty years or more after the installation of the system was complete I would show up for a service call and the  condensing unit was still sitting nice and level on a concrete pad. The duct work was a work of art. In some areas sealed with solder on every joint. 

The art of installing an h.v.a.c system is lost in the residential market. It can still be seen at times in the commercial civil service buildings because they are the only people with the budget for that type of real skilled work. There budgets almost seem to have no cap.

In the past the budget for the skilled trades for a new home was pretty high. Now it is almost nothing compared to everything else on the project. Here is a little example… lets say you purchase a new condo or home for $300,000. And you have the builder put in your dream kitchen that is valued at 80,000. That leaves $220,000 to finish the home. You also push for an extra bathroom for the same price that reduces the cost down to 200,000. You want custom colors in each room. Each person pics there favorite color. Now the builder has 180,000 to build your home. With a few more things on the wish list now the builder has $150,000 to complete your dream home. and make the outside looked lived in with new sod and landscaping. Of course now they can’t do it for that price so they ask for more and you bargain a bit and no where in here is the trades. As your wish list goes up the budget for the trades goes down.

Do you honestly believe you have plastic pex water pipes just because it’s better? Do you really think that a ridge vent and some soffit material with all those little tiny holes is going to ventilate your attic? Does any one believe OSB is better then plywood? Do you really think having one unit with three zone dampers is as good as having a separate unit per floor.

In today’s market most of the time the persons making budget decisions do not concern themselves with the quality of the work done behind the scenes. In dozens of new construction projects the only time I would speak with the home owner is if they hired me personally, other then that they usually just talked with the contractor, the architect and the finish people, in today’s world of home building all of a sudden the painter is one of the most important people on a project. The sheet rock company can show up almost unnoticed with no one to look and see if they did a good job or if they even cleaned up after them selves. The home owner and there children are dieing to talk with the painter about the colors they picked out. Some of them will have multiple colors in the same room. In my opinion what is important to them may not be whats important to the home and the over all health of the home. You can always paint! Or add a kitchen, buy new appliances, put down wood floors etc, etc, etc you may never get a another chance to change from OSB to good old fashioned plywood as your sheathing. You may never get another chance to seal the foundation or make sure it’s not poured in the winter on a bad day. Once your duct work is behind the walls you will not easily be able to change it. Once the crappy truss system is in your attic you can never reclaim that space. The entire attic that was traditionally an important part of older homes is completely lost to the modern day 2×4 truss.

Do we spend $7,000 on insulation for the foundation or do we get flat panels along with the wiring in every room. Should we spend $3500 for a ventilation system in the attic or have the bathroom walls tiled. Do we get a real plumbing system or nice sod instead of seed.

Many of the new homes condo’s and town houses I go into do not have a proper completely functional H.V.A.C system! I just went to an elderly women’s condo who was on oxygen and on a hot day her brand new condo a/c system would not cool her condo down to 80 degrees. And she is one of many in the same complex. The systems including the duct work were installed in an inferior manor and probably made up less then 2 or 3 % of the budget for the condo, where as the kitchen, made up 15 or 20% of the budget. Heating and cooling done right should be 5 to 10 % depending on what is required.

They keep calling me hoping I can fix a wire or add some freon. And I can’t!

They need major work and there not willing to pay for it at this time. Maybe someday. Right now they keep hoping some miracle a\c company will show up with a solution or the builder will step up and fix it for them for free. And the builder never will they just keep building new places the same exact way. They never change anything they do based on the past.

Right now there is a big argument between home owners and builders in one complex about the ventilation in the attics. There is another complex across the street going in with the 100% same building method. They haven’t even bought cheap plastic vents to at least make it appear as though they have learned.

I hope just one person reads this and thinks hard about what they want. If your having a new home built please consider your future. Do you want fluff now that turns into a nightmare later. Or will you put your money into quality and add some fluff as you go along.


Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building.

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