Okay, so I've mentioned a few times that we don't have any heat in the house, which has been somewhat problematic considering that this has been the coldest winter in 20 years, but hey, as everyone points out to us, we're young and in love. Anyway, we bought the house knowing that there was a problem with the old radiant heating system. Originally we bid the asking price (which was quite low) with the requirement that the heating be fixed. The bank said no, so I dropped $4500 off of our bid to cover repairs, the bank counter-offered and we accepted. That was in March of 2009.
Between March and August of 2009, we painted and planted and sodded and got married. Heart.
So in August of 2009 we began the process of fixing the heat. The first company that looked at it figured that most of the radiators needed to be replaced at, he guessed, a cost of $350 to $500 per unit with an additional $150 or so for new valves. He said the boiler looked pretty good, but that it needed $1500 or so in upgrades to bring it up to code; however, it was only about a 30-40% efficiency unit and new 90% efficiency units ran around $10,000 to install.
Anyway, it turns out that replacement radiators are no longer common around Kansas, and new convectors aren't cheap either, so the total cost was simply too high to work with the old radiant heating system, and we knew it was time to consider central heat and air. Thus it was bidding time, and what a time it was.
The next company that we called upon was recommended by one of the bankers that helped us get the loan. And while I'm sure being called "brother" by someone you've only met for five minutes is quaint and folksy to some people, to me it seemed like an almost aggressive ploy by this guy to make me feel like he was on my side. Here's the thing though, when you tell me that you're going to replace all my windows, spray insulation in my walls, and install the best heating and air units on the market, all for the low low cost of $25,000-35,000, and then suggest that I get a home equity loan for a house that I've lived in for all of four months, I have to assume that you think I'm stupid. Anyway, he spent about 15 minutes at my house, didn't take any measurements, didn't even look around, called me "brother" about seven or eight times, and told me that he could double the value of the house. To which I said, "not unless you're making the duct-work out of gold, brother."
The next couple of companies were much better, thankfully. One of the guys that came out was about retirement age, but he used to play football way back when, and still looked like he'd could take me down if we were to face off. Real nice guy though. The other company was one of those small town companies that you sort of wonder about when you first call them, but they were actually very good and very professional, and gave us our second lowest bid. But the final company to come out was the best and cheapest, and they're actually here working as I type this.
Now you'll note, that I'm typing this in the middle of January 2010 and not the middle of August 2009. There's two reasons for that. One, it's been too cold in the computer room to do much blogging, and two, we decided to get some government assistance for this project. More on that later.