Buyers of new homes face many decisions: builder reputation, neighborhood location, school districts, accessibility to freeways and mass transit, and the home’s layout (the number of bedrooms, baths, built-in appliances, etc.) — not to mention costs, add-ons, and taxes.

Many of them stick to every minute detail, down to the color in the downstairs’ bathroom and the wood molding around the doors.

And then there are those who depend on the builders to make the right choices for them — and live with the consequences. One of those consequences is being saddled with a cookie-cutter heating and cooling system. True, builders often depend on volume purchases and advice from hvac contractors on what is the most efficient and cost-effective system to install. But does the prospective buyer have any input on the decision?

One company is promoting face-to-face interaction between home buyers and hvac contractors.

“Part of our job is to change the mindset of the builders,” said John Androski of The Trane Company. “We need to show them [through our dealers] what opportunities are available by offering upgrades.”

Trane’s Builder Upgrade Program

Through its network of distributors and its website (, The Trane Company markets its Builder Upgrade Program. Trane cites three “significant benefits” hvac contractors can offer homeowners through this program:

1. Significant monthly savings on utility bills;

2. Better comfort; and

3. Worry-free ownership for years with the purchase of an extended warranty.

Trane acknowledges that system upgrades do cost more money, “but since they are rolled into the home buyer’s mortgage, there’s no better — and more affordable — time to make these options available.”

“Trane would like the opportunity to make an upgrade presentation to home buyers,” Androski said. “This makes more sense because builder’s sales-people often don’t know as much about the hvac system as a contractor’s sales staff.”

Communicate With Builders

Trane would like its dealers to have the opportunity to talk with builders, knowing that many are not comfortable with allowing access to their customers.

“A lot of builders don’t want anyone else talking to their customer because they view that as possibly hurting the sale — a disconnect between the dealer and homebuyer,” said Androski.

“The process tends to be ‘in the middle’ of builders selling the house and getting on with their business,” said Trane’s Truman Draper. “If we can work in the process where the builder and the dealer are comfortable with the process, then everyone will be pleased.

“That’s the key. The builder, dealer, and home buyer must be able to see how easily the process [of upgrading] works.”

“You have builders who are looking for a system that might be a certain SEER system based on the market — and they are looking for a price,” said Androski. “You also have a number of builders who understand that adding a higher value system is a way of differentiating themselves. If dealers have a relationship with their builders, this is a great opportunity to discuss the benefits of an upgrade package. Everybody wins.”

Publication date: 10/29/2001