Finding and Working With a Contractor

For your safety and comfort, finding a registered and reliable Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) contractor is important. Here are some answers to common questions to help you get started:

How do I find a registered HVAC contractor?
What questions should I ask when interviewing contractors?
Why is getting a written quote so important?
What should I include in the contract?

How do I find a registered contractor?

Most people tend to find contractors through word-of-mouth. There are also a few other organizations set up to help you find and verify the certifications of HVAC contractors: 

Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA)

Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI)

In Ontario, qualified HVAC contractors must be registered with TSSA. You can locate a contractor online.  
Toll-free: 1-877-682-8772
(Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

The HRAI has an online contractor locator tool that may also help you in your search for a registered contractor.

Toll-free: 1-877-467-4724


What questions should I ask when interviewing contractors

For any significant project, it's worthwhile speaking to at least three contractors that you would consider for the job. Before you ask them to provide an estimate for the work, you should ask them:

  • What trade associations they belong to
  • How long they’ve been in business
  • Their warranty and maintenance coverage on equipment and labour
  • How much liability insurance coverage they carry
  • Whether they offer financing or leasing programs, if you’re interested in them
  • Local references that you could call to see if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work

Going through this interview process will help give you a better impression of who you're hiring and how they propose to work with you. 

Why is getting a written quote so important?

It's very important that you get detailed written quotes for your project. You should be very clear about what’s included and what isn’t. Assume that if it’s not written in the contract, it’s not included.
You should also make allowances for contingencies – an extra amount in case you and the contractor discover during the project that extra work is required.
Get at least three written estimates, from different contractors, outlining the work to be done and the total price. Remember, the lowest price isn't always the best value, and the highest price doesn't necessarily mean great service.

What should I include in the contract?

In some cases, the estimate that’s provided also serves as the contract. In other cases, the contractor will write out a separate contract that you'll have to sign.

Make sure you read and understand all of the terms and conditions, including the fine print, before you sign it.
Be sure that the contract is detailed and fully describes the project. At a minimum, the contract should include:

  • Job start date
  • All equipment and installation details including specific model numbers
  • Estimated completion date
  • Payment policy
  • Warranty details on equipment, parts and labour
  • A guaranteed price including all parts, labour and taxes
  • A hold-back amount that you'll pay only once the project is completed satisfactorily. Typical hold-back amounts are 10 to 15 per cent of the entire project value.

Also, be sure that the contractor provides you with all product information such as instruction manuals, maintenance requirements and manufacturers' warranties for any new equipment they install.