why it’s worth The Cost to hire a professional

Looking to hire someone to do renovations on your home? Perform maintenance or repairs on your HVAC or plumbing systems? Do lawn or landscaping work for you? If so, you’re probably aware of the variety of providers that can do that work. Some of them cost more, and some cost less.

Two professional technicians in uniform stand in front of their van

But do you know why?

The common assumption is that professional contractors are expensive because they can be – they’re in it for the money, and they’ll take you for everything they can get. In some cases, this might be true. But most of the time, there are reasons why licensed HVAC techs and plumbers cost what they do. These reasons fall into the five following categories.

Specialized Training and Skills

The training required to learn the skills necessary for a career in mechanical services is expensive and takes years to complete. After high school or GED, a candidate must complete trade or vocational school, and a minimum of a four-year apprenticeship (usually at lower wages). Following an apprenticeship, the candidate must pass an exam to earn their license. And, after that, more training and exams are required to move up to higher levels, earn better wages, and learn new technologies. Training and education is an ongoing process. After hiring a licensure candidate, the company assumes most of these costs.

An instructor leads a vocational training course for skilled tradesmen

Additionally, licensed HVAC technicians and plumbers are in high demand. Experienced professionals are aging out of the industry and retiring.  At the same time, fewer candidates are coming out of trade schools and many shops are finding it difficult to staff for demand. This means increased compensation costs to remain competitive, and a payroll that is more expensive than ever. The good news for you is, this also means you can be sure the professionals you hire are the best in the business.

A Master Plumber trains an apprentice on the finer points

Operations and Office Staff

Office workers take calls and schedule technicians for service

Running a successful mechanical services business doesn’t just happen. In addition to the licensed professionals who actually do the work, a skilled and professional office staff keeps things organized and running smoothly. Office managers, customer service representatives, dispatchers, and marketers perform a multitude of tasks to make sure your service is a success.

Two awesome office staff and an office dog make decisions

These folks handle tasks like answering every call or chat, maintaining customer records, ensuring the right techs are dispatched for the work needed, that they have what they need in the field each day, plan routes, schedule jobs, keep the bills paid, the supplies stocked, and the books in good order Additionally, there is planning and executing marketing and advertising, keeping the website up to date, and the trucks looking great. All American Heating could not offer the great care our customers have come to expect without our capable and indispensable office team.

Fleet Maintenance

Newly re-branded All American Heating Work Van

Vehicles have never come cheap – especially not the specialized kind required by HVAC and plumbing companies. Now, as supply chains are interrupted by the pandemic, and fuel prices are constantly edging skyward, actually getting to our clients’ jobs costs more than ever. The average work truck can easily cover as much as 200 miles each day. Add in insurance and truck maintenance like oil changes and repairs, and your mechanical contractors spend thousands on their fleets, fuel, and the supplies each truck contains.

Physical and Financial Risks

Frustrated woman attempts to handle her plumbing problem on her own

It might initially seem like you’re paying a lot for parts you could buy at the local big box store and install for yourself with the help of YouTube or a Plumbing for Dummies book. (Note: we have no idea if such a thing exists, and if it does, we don’t recommend it.) But you run the risk of opening a can of worms that rapidly turns into an epic disaster – and excessive costs that could have been avoided. Invariably, the best solution is to hire a trained professional.

A contractor holds his injured knee after a fall

The work we do for our customers is difficult and specialized – and it comes with its own, unique set of risks. Technicians going into the field can perform a wide range of tasks that might require climbing on roofs, crawling in crawl spaces, coming in contact with harmful fluids or volatile chemicals, or using tools that are potentially dangerous. They take additional time and caution to mitigate these risks to their own safety, as well as to their customers and bystanders. Despite the best intentions and an abundance of precautions, things can still go wrong and accidents happen.

Because this work is risky, companies must provide workers’ compensation insurance. If they don’t have insurance, or if you hire an unlicensed or uninsured contractor, that puts you on the hook for anything that goes wrong. This means that any injuries that happen on your property, and any medical or other costs that result from them, are your responsibility.

Broken sewer pipe

This also means that if your workers break a sewer or a power line that belongs to the utility companies and not your property, you’ll still be financially accountable for those repairs. Also, be aware that your homeowner’s insurance will likely not cover claims of this nature, and if they do, they may still turn around and come after you for reimbursement.  HVAC and plumbing companies take these risks and buy insurance so that you and your property are safe.

Specialized Tools and Equipment

Speaking of potentially dangerous tools, work of this nature requires a good deal of specialized equipment that is not available from The Home Depot or Lowe’s. This machinery is highly technical, costs thousands to purchase, run, and maintain, and must be acquired from an industry supply house. In addition, much of this equipment requires extensive of training to operate – and that is in addition to the training we previously discussed, and which also adds to the company’s considerable expenses.

HVAC Tech preps a professional duct cleaning machine for a job

The Benefits of Using Professionals Are Clear

By now it should be clear that there are reasons for the pricing models used by professional home services companies. It should also be obvious of using a professional outweighs the risks you take by hiring an amateur or doing the work yourself in an attempt to save money. Even if everyone involved has the best of intentions, things can go wrong, and you can end up way over your head. In addition, the physical risks and potential costs of an accident can end up costing you far more in the long run. Finally, the work of a professional will be guaranteed, so if a system or repairs don’t work right, the situation can be rectified.

Look for Part Two of this article next week to learn how to protect yourself when choosing who to hire for home services.

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