Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Step 20 - Some Like it Hot, Some Like it Cold

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) rough-in follows the electrical R/I on my projects.  For me, the rough-in for the heating and air usually comes down to unlocking the door and getting out of the way.

On one hand, I'd like to tell you this is just luck.  However there's a little more to it than being fortunate.  In Push Hard to Get Quotes I described how important it is to get multiple estimates. The HVAC part of the job is a good example of where this time and due diligence will pay dividends.  When I talk to the HVAC contractors who visit my houses before they give me a quote, I really make an effort to pay attention, ask questions, and listen closely (and maybe scratch down some notes).  These walk-thrus are interviews and I'm always mindful of the big question:  "Can this contractor do this job for me?"  It's not solely about price.  I have to bring someone in who's qualified, experienced, licenced, insured, organized, and well-managed.  More simply put, I need someone who can deliver, perform, and stand behind their work over time.  Heating and air conditioning R/I day is not the time to figure this out.

Finally, I should mention that as the owner/general contractor on my projects I am expected to have a place prepared for the HVAC crew to set their units and it's my job to make sure these areas are accessible, ready, and all theirs when they arrive.  For the most part, they'll have first dibs on the space under the house or in the attic to set their equipment and to run their trunk lines and duct work.  In addition, they may have some cavities/chases designated just for them or may work some ducts through the floor joists.  However, I may also need to have a platform built for them beforehand, but when this is needed it's discussed and understood ahead of time.  Either I build what's needed myself or I have the framing crew do it.

So, if you do your part, HVAC rough-in will be pretty effortless (for you) because you won't have to do much other than standing clear and being ready to write a check after the crew passes the R/I inspection.

See Step 17 - Bring in the Reincarnation of Einstein (Plumbing Rough-In)

See Step 19 - Pulling Wire:  Electrical Rough-In


  1. I have been looking up hvac contractors and I think I found one. I just don't know what I should be looking for when it comes to contractors. I just bought a house and I have never had to do anything like this before. Thanks for sharing this post, it is very helpful.

    1. mackensie- A referral from someone you know is a good place to start. And keep mind what I've said about multiple estimates - 3 is good, 4 is better, and 5 is great. Your comfort level will increase w/ each mtg. Also, you want someone who's licensed and insured. And consider how long have they've been in business (more than 3 or 4 yrs. for HVAC bus.) Do they have an office/shop or do they do bus. from their vehicle? I hope this helps. Ask more questions here if you'd like or e-mail me:

    2. Thank you so much, this is very helpful!