HVAC Installation Cost: What's Fair & What's Foul

Understanding what is a fair HVAC installation cost is an indecipherable mystery for most homeowners. Let's demystify this all too common expense.

What Should HVAC Installation Cost?

For a lot of homeowners, this can be a tough question to answer. You probably bought a house with an existing HVAC unit. Sure, the price of that unit and installation was rolled into the home price, but it is not exactly something most people would really look at. So when that system fails and you need a new one, what should you expect to pay? How do you know if you're getting swindled. As far as HVAC installation cost goes, what is "cheap" and what is "expensive"?

As with most complicated things, the answer varies.

Broadly speaking, a whole-house HVAC installation cost can be as much as $12,000 or as low as $4,000. There are a lot of factors involved. How big is the house? Is the HVAC equipment particularly expensive or economy line? Will the installation take an unusually long time due to a complex interior layout? What is the cost of living in your area and how busy are the local HVAC professionals?

So, if you live in a small house with a simple layout and use inexpensive equipment, your HVAC installation cost will be on the low side. And if your home is the opposite of all that, be prepared for a heftier price tag.

HVAC Installation Cost Breakdown

Let's break down some of the basics:

  • Equipment cost is the first big obstacle. The price a local contractor will give you can vary widely. To save money, buy online from us or a company like us. Online prices are hyper-competitive, so you virtually always save money.
  • Next is labor. Unless you're doing a DIY install, and that is beyond most people, you are going to have to pay somebody to put in your new equipment. Labor isn't cheap, and there is just no way to get around it. You might be able to save here and there by doing some of the work yourself. However, make sure you and your installer are clear on who is doing what.
  • Do you have existing ductwork? If not, getting ductwork put in is going to increase your hvac installation cost. Repairing ductwork also isn't cheap even if it is not as expensive as a totally new network.
  • How complicated is your home system going to be? Dropping a package unit on a slab is relatively easy. Connecting an air handler in the attic to a condenser outside is more difficult. The more cramped and difficult to access the equipment space, the more your hvac installation cost will be, because the job will just take longer to do.

HVAC Installation Cost Savings

With all that in mind, where can you cut out some HVAC installation cost?

It is true that you can probably do some of the rough work yourself. But the best way to save on your hvac installation cost is to make sure you work with an HVAC contractor that you trust. Don't take the first bid on a job. Get a couple of bids. Let the people doing the estimate know that you're getting bids from their competitors.

Then don't necessarily pick the cheapest bid. If the lowest bidder is way lower, you should be suspicious. Either that bidder doesn't fully understand the complexity of the job, or they plan to nickel and dime you with charges that "just came out of nowhere". Pick one of the median bids from the people that sound the most like they know what they're talking about.

Need More Help on Figuring HVAC Installation Cost?

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