Get Competing BidsIt's tempting to hire the first person who says they can do the job, but you won't save money that way. Getting multiple bids takes more time, but it allows you to play a more active role in determining the final cost of the project. By talking to several prospective contractors, you'll gain a better understanding of the work required and have enough information to feel confident that you've made the best choice.
Do Your HomeworkOnce you know what the problem is and what it will take to fix it, do your own research into some of the related costs. Ask the contractors you're considering to tell you some of the parts they expect they'll need. Then do some online research to find out how much those parts cost and how that cost compares to what your contractor intends to charge.
It is also always a good idea to use online review sites, such as Yelp and Angie's List, to learn about other people's experiences with the contractors you're considering. If you need the work done quickly, but a particular contractor has received frequent complaints over missed deadlines, the company is probably not a good fit for your needs.
Ask for What You Want
Image via Flickr by NAVFAC
Get CreativeDepending on the specifics of your situation, there are many creative ways to find savings on your HVAC project. You might, for example, offer to pay any subcontractors directly, rather than through the contractor, thereby saving the company some paperwork. If you're able, you can offer to do some of the simpler project-related tasks yourself to save on labor costs. But be careful - it's not a good idea to attempt complex repair or maintenance tasks on your own. Sticking with skilled professionals to make sure the job gets done correctly usually saves money in the long run.
If you offer a product or service the contractor might find valuable, such as marketing, you might be able to negotiate a swap to offset some of the cost. There are even barter websites specifically for people looking for this kind of arrangement.
Few things make a homeowner feel more proud than getting high-quality work done for a fair price. You may not be able to fix your HVAC system yourself, but by following these tips, you will be able to brag that you got the job done right — and for a steal.