We ended up with essentially what we had hoped for at what seems like a reasonable price, given estimates we received from other competitors. However, there were some things during the process that were less than optimal. Our sales representative, Richard, was very personable and attentive. During the initial evaluation of the job, he listened to our preferences and was generally knowledgeable of the proposed equipment, installation process, and possible pitfalls. It was a bit strange that I had to climb up on the roof to take pictures and measurements of the rooftop package unit, but I had been up there many times and already had ladders in place, so I really didn’t mind.
During the contracting process, Bill Howe’s system of email notifications with online proposals was efficient and professional. Richard was quite attentive and responded to inquires quickly. I had to do a fair amount of research to find units with the specifications I was looking for, but changes to the proposal were done quickly, and the price increase for the more expensive units I chose was a bit less than I expected. I appreciate that Richard listened to my concerns regarding the crane service with regard to signing a driveway damage waiver (I figured that if the right equipment for a small residential job were chosen, there should be very little risk of damage to the driveway, and damage should only occur in the setting of negligence). Richard went to the effort of finding a crane service which did not require a driveway damage waiver.
The installation took three days, split into two phases (the rooftop package unit and the three zone ductless system). I had to pour my own concrete pad for the mini split condenser, as the service was not offered, but the scheduling was flexible enough to allow me time to do it. It was initially communicated to me that only the package unit was going to be installed the first day. I had not completed the interior prep work for the ductless system by the first day, so it created a bit of inefficiency when the installers wished to start on the ductless system the first day but were unable. The biggest issue (and the main reason for the three star rating) was with the installation of the interior air handlers. The proposed location for one of the air handlers left less than ideal space between the top of the unit and ceiling for air return. This was discussed in person at the end of the first day with both Samuel, our lead installer, and Brian, the installation supervisor. I acknowledged understanding that the location could lead to suboptimal performance of the unit but was the only possible location to allow for clearance of the curtain rod below. It was agreed that the unit would be placed exactly as I had marked it. On the second day, two of the three air handlers were placed 3/4 inch lower than I had marked. I took off work the third day to supervise and insisted that one of the units be moved. I had to patch two 2 inch diameter holes in the drywall, as a result of the move. This was done by me immediately, as the installers were not equipped or properly skilled to perform the patch properly, and I did not wish the job to be delayed. The second incorrectly placed unit was not moved, as I didn’t want to patch more drywall. The worst part of this was that the units were not misplaced as a result of miscommunication. The location was discussed in person, marked with tape, and had written instructions pertaining to the location written on the tape. Another problem, which I do attribute to poor communication, was with the exterior line set covers. I thought that purpose-made tan vinyl line set covers that sort of matched the tan stucco were to be used. However, very bulky aluminum line set covers were used. I contacted Richard, and he quickly agreed to fix the problem, be we ultimately decided to stay with the existing covers, as redoing all the covers weeks from now seemed like more delay and effort than it was worth. Of note, the installation supervisor did not return after the first day.
So, overall, we are reasonably satisfied with the end result. The function of the units is as hoped. If one wishes to get a reasonable price and is willing and capable of doing some amount of their own work and supervision, Bill Howe is a reasonable choice for HVAC work,