It was the best of furnaces. It was the worst of furnaces.
Now, if I was to truly wax Dickens, this would be a REALLY wordy post (Dickens was paid by the word).
When one is buying new, and buying a $1.5 mil house NEW, one has great expectations. My clients carefully poured over the sales literature of many builders to see what they were getting for their money. Then they selected a builder, and for two reasons - house design and stuff. When the ad says, "Starting in the mid $700's," it means, "You get the normal, builder grade everything, until you upgrade. We make lots more money when you upgrade, so please do!" That's the stuff.
UPGRADE SHOULD MEAN UPGRADE!
The sales information for this house said this about the HVAC systems: "All homes are standard with a Carrier gas furnace on Zone1 and a Carrier heat pump on Zone 2. All HVAC joints are sealed with mastic. A/C Units: 13 Seer".
Now that is basic. That screams BUILDER GRADE and minimum code. Which is fine - unless you are paying $1.5 mil for a "custom" home!
My clients thought they might be in this house a while so they wanted especially to upgrade the HVAC systems. They are thinking efficiency and savings long term. That is only smart. So they did.
How do you rank the energy efficiency of most everything?
By consulting the EnergyGuide chart, which is supposed to be put on every appliance.
It says various things: model number, model size, energy rank as the appliance compares to all similar units, estimated annual costs, etc.
It is a useful guide.
So my antennas went up when I saw this.
Checking energy efficiencies of appliances is not something I typically do on a home inspection. But in this case I had to find out because the sticker had been INTENTIONALLY removed.
Now, if you are providing an UPGRADED good or service for your client, wouldn't you be proud and anxious to show that client just what they are getting for their trust in your ability to provide that good or service?
This furnace is truly an upgrade! The standard gas furnace was upgraded to a high-efficiency condensing gas furnace. By comparison to a standard furnace, these are excellent! I like them a lot.
But this is a $1.5 mil house! I wanted to see what the "upgrade" gets them.
So I got the model information for this unit. I suggested that they, and I, go home and research where this particular model number stacks up against other high-efficiency condensing gas units offered by this manufacturer. The whole line!
I know what you're thinking! You are probably right!
THIS UNIT COMES IN NEXT TO LAST IN A LINE UP OF 16 MODELS!
On a scale of 1-7, with 7 as the highest, this manufacturer ranks this unit as 4 of 7 in efficiency and 5 of 7 in noise level. This is the same ranking the last in the line up comes in. Four is the lowest number for anything.
We both arrived at the same conclusion. My client is not impressed. I don't know what he can do, but he is not impressed.
Is this kind of research the job of the home inspector? On a pre-drywall inspection, with this kind of house, why not? I did not throw a wrench into the works - the builder did.
My recommendation: on new construction it might be wise to investigate what your clients get for their money when they "upgrade" in any way. While if we were going to do something for ourselves, we might not buy the top of the line, we probably would NOT buy the lowest of the line either. We would likely buy upper middle or more toward the top.
Doing to and for others the same way we would do to and for ourselves never puts us in a bad light and creates only good feelings. I would call it brotherly love.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560