Brett Rogenski, General Manager of N.E.T.R., Inc. talks about some of the things you should look for in a ductless contractor, including credentials, insurance, and maintenance services.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Brett Rogenski, General Manager of N.E.T.R., Inc., a heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today our topic is how to choose a quality ductless contractor. Welcome, Brett.
Brett Rogenski: Hi, John. Thank you very much for having me.
Key Qualifications and Credentials of a Ductless Installer
John: Sure. So Brett, we’re thinking of installing a ductless system in our house. What are some of the key qualifications and credentials that a homeowner should look for when they’re choosing a ductless contractor?
Licensed Home Improvement Contractor
Brett: Sure. So from a contracting point of view, a few things always jump right to mind with me. So the first thing that you want is someone who is a licensed home improvement contractor. So they should be able to show you, and there’s also various state websites where you can verify, that they’re a licensed home improvement contractor, because that means that they’ve been vetted by the state, that they have proper insurance and several other things. So let the state do a little work for you, make sure that they’re a licensed home improvement contractor.
Verify That The Ductless Contractors Has Insurance
The next thing that comes to mind is verifying their insurance. So any contractor should be able to provide you with proper authentication of insurance because they’re doing work in your home. So it’s a significant investment, and in the unlikely event that there’s any sort of damage or anything, you want to know that that’s in place. So they should be able to give you a COI, Certificate of Insurance, in advance of the job to show you that they’re fully insured and fully bonded so that you’re protected in your home.
The next thing, and I think it’s really important, is I think as a ductless contractor you should hold the highest rating possible with the manufacturer. So for instance, at N.E.T.R., we’re a Mitsubishi Diamond Elite Contractor, and what that means to you is that we participate in lots of training to hold that status. We install a certain number of systems, which is a high number, and they have certain standards that you have to satisfy to remain a Diamond Elite Contractor.
They believe so much in that program that when you become a Diamond Elite Contractor, you get a longer warranty on your work than other contractors do. So there may be someone who is a Mitsubishi certified contractor. Well, you may get a seven-year warranty from him. Working with a Diamond Elite Contractor, because of the quality of work we do, the training we do, and the other things that we do to prove to Mitsubishi that we’re an Elite Contractor, we’re able to give a 12-year warranty on Mitsubishi’s behalf on all parts and labor associated with Mitsubishi.
John: So that’s a really strong benefit to the homeowner then.
Brett: Tremendous. And there’s multiple tiers to that. So I mean, honestly, if you’re going to choose to work with a ductless contractor, why choose one less than a Diamond Elite Contractor if you’re using Mitsubishi. Get that full 12-year warranty. And really what they’ve done is they’ve proven that they’re a top tier capable contractor to Mitsubishi.
Has Your Contractor Had Sufficient Experience?
John: What are some other ways that homeowners can ensure that a contractor has sufficient experience with specifically ductless HVAC technology?
Better Business Bureau
Brett: Sure. I would check in a couple of spots. I would always verify with the Better Business Bureau what their standing is with the Better Business Bureau. Certainly look at their Google reviews and see what their customers think of them. That’s one of the great things about the modern internet is, as a contractor, you can’t control what people are saying about you. So if you give someone a bad experience, they can share that. So someone that’s got a really strong set of Google reviews, that’s probably indicative that they’re a good contractor.
How Long Has the Contractor Been Installing Ductless?
And then really the last thing that I can think of to help that is how long have they been doing it? There’s a lot of companies now that, with Mass Save having some really aggressive rebates out there, there’s a lot of folks who are traditional heating and cooling companies, contractors, that now are suddenly jumping into the ductless arena. So they may have been around for 25 years, how many years have they been doing ductless? And the other part is, is it a primary part of what they do or is it a secondary or maybe even a third line product for them? So you want to find someone who’s been doing ductless in high volume for a long time because they’ll have a good body of work and good knowledge.
To give you an example, our company is 35 years old and we were one of the very first Mitsubishi ductless contractors in all of New England, and we do thousands and thousands of Mitsubishi ductless installations every year, as opposed to someone who may do, what, a couple per month? So we just have a lot of experience and a great process to give the customer a great experience.
John: And that’s really important, because you’ve seen every situation out there that’s possible to see. And there’s a lot of very particular things that go into installing and maintaining these types of systems. And if you’re not used to that, you could make some poor choices. But like I said, you guys have seen every situation out there and you know exactly how to handle it.
Brett: Yeah, exactly. And we pride ourselves on that. And unfortunately, we get to meet some people who become customers because we come in behind someone else who maybe didn’t have that experience. And that’s definitely not how we want to gain customers. We never want anyone to have that experience. But on the positive side, we do have that level of expertise and we can come, and whatever wasn’t right we can make it right for them and they have a good relationship with us going forward.
But yeah, I would really look at that experience. How long have you been doing ductless and how much ductless do you do every year? And if they’re telling you, “Oh, we did like a hundred last year,” that’s not a lot of ductless. If they tell you several thousand, now you might be working with a player.
How a Ductless Installer Can Assist Homeowners In Choose the Right System
John: Right. So how can a quality ductless contractor assist homeowners in selecting the right system for their specific heating and cooling needs?
Brett: Sure. It all starts off with the in-home consultation. I can only speak to our process, but our process for the consultation is just that, a consultation. We want to speak with the homeowner, ask them what their goals are, “what are your objectives”, “what are we trying to do here”? So we don’t just show up and go, “Oh, put one thing here, put one thing there, put one thing there.” So we would say, “Hey, John, what are we trying to do here?” “Yeah, well, this room’s warm, this room’s cold. I’m trying to reduce my energy costs.” Whatever their particular goal or goals are, we ask them that.
The second thing that we do is we do a heating and cooling load calc. So we don’t just walk in and go, “Well, this looks like 6,000 BTUs will work.” We actually have some software that we use on every design and we design with the software to make sure that we’re going to appropriately size your heating and cooling system. A lot of folks tend to think, “Oh, bigger must be better.” No, not necessarily. That can lead to other comfort issues like excess humidity and stuff. So, we go in and we size the system appropriately for what your goals are and what industry standards are.
So those are a couple of things, connecting with your contractor, making sure they’re listening to you about what you’re trying to achieve, and making sure that they use the tools available and explain to you why the options they give you are maybe a good, better, best option, and what that implies with each.
Types of Ductless Maintenance Offered
John: Okay. And one of the concerns that people might have is that they have a ductless system installed and then it needs some maintenance, and now they can’t get in touch with the installer to come and maintain the system. What types of maintenance services should homeowners expect from a quality ductless contractor?
Brett: Super question. So any quality contractor is going to have a dedicated…well, I break it down into three phases, if you will. So you have your administrative staff, the people who help the business run, and then in the field you have a service staff and you have an installation staff.
So installation technicians are good at installing, doing a great job, connecting with the homeowner and making sure that that installation’s done right. Having a dedicated service staff that’s available 24/7 ensures that you can take care of people when they need it the most. So if you’re dealing with a contractor and he doesn’t have a completely separate group of technicians who do nothing but preventive maintenance, service, etc., you may be disappointed in the future.
So that’s one thing that I would always look at when you’re looking for a quality contractor is do you have separate installation teams and service teams because they serve very different functions. And honestly, that ability to get service at two o’clock in the morning on Christmas, no one wants that, but that ability to have it is a lifesaver when you need it.
John: Now, you mentioned warranties a little bit before and you mentioned with your Diamond Elite Contractor status that you’re able to offer a better warranty than some other contractors might be able to. How else can homeowners ensure that they’re adequately protected by warranties?
Brett: Sure. Well, that actually starts with registration. So your contractor has to register the system with the manufacturer, with Mitsubishi in this case, in our conversation. So making sure that that is registered, then making sure that you receive copies of all that documentation.
And then also, in our case, we work with Mass Save a lot, making sure that they also receive all the proper documentation if you’re getting a rebate or a heat loan or anything along those lines as well. So typically you’re going to want to work with a contractor who’s going to register that, provide that documentation to you at the time of installation or immediately thereafter, and be able to ensure that you’re getting your full warranty, which in our case, as a Diamond Elite Contractor, is 12 years.
John: All right, well, that’s really great information, Brett. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Brett: Thanks a lot. I appreciate it, John.
John: And for more information, you can visit the N.E.T.R. website at netrinc.com or call 781-933-NETR. That’s 781-933-6387.