Archive for March 2017

Why we value our initial visit to your home

If you call us for a new electrical project or to repair something that isn’t working properly, you may be frustrated to find that we will want to come out to your home and inspect the potential project before we give you a hard-and-fast quote.

Now, we don’t do that in order to frustrate our customers, but we know that it can sometimes be a cause of frustration. After all, if you’re trying to estimate a budget for a project, why should you have to pay a service fee to have a technician come out to your home?

We do things this way in order to make sure that we’re serving you, our client, as well as we possibly can. It can help to think of things in medical terms: You wouldn’t be able to simply call a surgeon and request a procedure out of the blue, would you?

If your doctor didn’t call for the surgery, the surgeon is going to require you to have a medical exam before you go under the knife. Otherwise, they would be engaging in medical malpractice.

We don’t want to commit malpractice in our jobs either, although it looks different in our world than in the medical world!

Sometimes the problem that we receive a call for isn’t really the root of the problem—or we find something dangerous to your family. You might call because the breaker for your bathroom keeps tripping, but when our technician arrives, they discover that your breaker box is one of the types that is prone to combustion, and it therefore needs to be replaced before anything else can happen.

Or maybe you call because you want to wire some new lighting to your living room, but your technician discovers that the previous owner of your home must have hired someone unlicensed to handle the current wiring, because it isn’t up to code.

We don’t want to give you an estimate over the phone that we won’t be able to uphold! But if our technician notices issues that threaten your family’s safety, or finds that there’s a better solution to your issue than the one you’d requested, we want to leave room to offer what’s the most effective for your family.

While you will pay a service fee for our technician to come out and assess the situation, that does not mean that you need to have the service done that day—or even have a decision made yet!

We know that it’s common for people to want to discuss with their spouse or other family members about significant decisions on their homes, and we will not charge a second service fee to come out and complete the service. We’ll provide an definite quote for the project at the end of the initial service call, and you can choose to go forward at that point or at any point in the future (or not at all).

Miscommunication happens all the time, so we want to make sure that everyone’s on the same page about what needs to be done before we quote you for a project, and certainly before we start work.

Investing in a new HVAC system?

A new heating and air system isn’t a small investment for most people. And nobody wants to be blindsided with a surprise expense in the middle of summer or the dead of winter with a busted HVAC system.

It can be difficult to figure out how much a new HVAC unit will cost, though. Prices listed online might not be accurate for our Oklahoma market, and you run the risk of being chased down by salespeople if you call companies to try to price it out.

Obviously, there are lots of variables involved, and that’s part of the difficulty as well. Depending on how large your home is, the state of your ductwork, and the end result you’re looking for, there’s a wide range of possible investments you could be looking at.

Currently, in our Oklahoma City and Edmond markets, we find that people pay, on average, between $7,000 and $10,000 for a complete installation. You can stop reading now, sure—but if you’re curious about where in that range you might fall, these considerations can help you gauge what kind of investment you should prepare for.

Current state

Is your HVAC system completely broken, or is it simply working at sub-optimal levels? Is it December, or July, and you’re feeling some urgency, or it it a relatively mild time of the year like April, and you can wait a little to make your decision?

What’s the age of your home? Has it been recently renovated? Is your ductwork older? Will you be needing to replace the entire system, or just one part?

Desired state

Just like with cars, you can get normal, functioning models and you can also get luxury models. And trust me, there are luxury HVAC systems. Think about if that’s something that’s important to you.

If you just want something that works, that’s okay. Not everyone needs or wants the extra bells and whistles. We’re not going to push the units that are over $10,000 onto anyone, but if that’s something you’re interested in, that is an option.

Budget

What’s your budget? I’ve seen online estimates of anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 dollars for replacing a HVAC system, but I think that range is really too big to be useful. Typically in our market, people invest between $7,000 and $10,000 for a new HVAC system.

Ultimately, even an experienced HVAC professional won’t be able to give you a hard and fast estimate until they’ve come out to your home, because your home and your family’s needs are unique. But most people, in most circumstances, will find that a completely new HVAC system will require that size of investment.

Have further questions about HVAC installation, or the state of your HVAC system? Give us a call, and let’s have a conversation about your situation.

Don’t gamble with your home

Let’s say you know a really great general contractor who has offered to help you with an electrical project you’ve been wanting to get done. Or maybe you have someone in your family who’s dabbled in electrical engineering, and they’re sure they can help you finish that incomplete project for cheap.

Is there any reason you shouldn’t go with those options? A circuit’s a circuit, right? Surely there are tutorials online they can follow.

Obviously, I’m going to take some kind of issue with that, simply because of the work we do at Baxter. But regardless of that, I would still counsel a friend against cutting corners in that way, and there are several reasons for that.

For one, it’s dangerous. Electricity, managed improperly, can harm you or your contractor, and could create a fire in your home that your homeowners insurance won’t cover (more on that in a bit).

In addition to the fact that they simply haven’t gone through the work to become licensed—and therefore are probably not as skilled in electrical work as they are in their chosen field—there are some significant (and costly) considerations for you as a homeowner.

Often, someone who isn’t a licensed electrician will choose to do your project for a significantly lower quote than a licensed electrician. But if something goes wrong, the cost of that project could increase exponentially.

Homeowners insurance won’t cover damage

Having a contractor who doesn’t have an electrician’s license work on your electrical project requires you to take a risk. If there’s a fire caused by their project, your homeowners insurance won’t cover the damage.

Not only is a fire a significant hazard to your home and your family, but saving a few thousand dollars by having an unlicensed contractor execute your project could end up costing you far more than that financially if things don’t go exactly right.

What happens if they’re injured while working on your project?

If you hire someone who isn’t a licensed electrician to do electrical work on your home, you’ll want to consider who will cover their workman’s comp. If they’re uninsured for electrical work, you’ll be responsible for paying if they end up hurting themselves on your project.

Ultimately, it’s up to you how you spend your budget for home improvement projects. But hiring someone who isn’t a licensed electrician to do your electrical work could end up costing you more money than you save—and could even be dangerous for your family.

Indoor and outdoor spring home maintenance

As the weather gets warmer, we find that our Edmond and Oklahoma City neighbors are ready to give their homes a little TLC.

Whether you love spring cleaning or prefer a more gradual cleaning approach, there are some tasks inside and outside your home that are ideal to tackle in the spring.

Your home’s interior

Look in your attic for signs of mold and evidence of critters. Check the drain pan for your air conditioner (it might be in your attic or in a closet) to ensure it’s draining properly. Change out your air filters if you haven’t recently. It’s also a good idea to call for spring maintenance on your entire HVAC system to make sure it serves you well as the weather gets warmer.

Check for signs of moisture underneath sinks and near your washing machine, your dishwasher, and your hot water heater—if you find any signs of leakage, you’ll be able to address it before it become a larger problem.

Your home’s exterior

Clean out your gutters and look for any shingles that look out of place, or other signs of damage on your roof. Trim any branches that hang over your roof to keep them from falling during spring storms.

Take a walk around your property, looking for any places where dirt has accumulated. Give your windows a nice cleaning, and spray down siding or brick to remove any accumulation of dirt or grime.

Your yard

Now’s the time to clear your beds for spring planting and add fresh mulch. You can plant summer-blooming bulbs, and you can even start some cool-weather plants from seeds:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce

Giving your home a little care early in the season will give you time to relax and enjoy the results of your efforts well into the summer!