Sometime between Autumn and Spring, you are very likely to be exposed to multi-million pound advertising campaigns by national energy companies encouraging you to invest in a new leading-brand boiler.
Of course, it makes sense to choose a boiler make that is well-known and respected, such as Vaillant or Worcester Bosch but why go to the nationals when local and regional installers can supply and install the latest boilers and you have the opportunity to buy locally.
Furthermore, there is always the possibility that while a national firm will happily sell you a boiler, the actual installation might well be carried out by sub-contracted labour. And if you need help with your new boiler, you might well have to go through a remote call centre. All very arms-length and potentially time-consuming and frustrating.
For some customers this works fine. But for many it most certainly does not. If you are the sort a person that likes like to build a good working relationship with a firm that you have spent lot of money with, then it is probably best to buy locally – from a reputable local or regional firm.
This is because when you have a replacement boiler fitted you are likely to be entering into a long-term relationship for such things as regular servicing, boiler maintenance and repair with the installer.
All boiler engineers, no matter where they work, are legally required to have Gas Safe training and certification (or OFTEC training and certification in the case of oil boilers) and this has to be renewed regularly. They will have been trained thoroughly, often by the manufacturers, and will be familiar with the different types and brands, plus they must also do refresher training when renewing their certification
And if you need help, you can deal directly with the people that installed your boiler.
We would always recommend that you get three to three quotes, one from a national company, one from a regional company and a third from a small local gas fitter aka Man with a Van. Inevitably, there will be some variation in the prices you are quoted and most likely the small local supplier will seem to be the cheapest.
But the real difference is in the availability of after-care.
Will your small trader be available when you need them in the middle of winter in a sudden emergency when your boiler has broken down?
If you have bought nationally, do you know where their engineer sub-contractors are based? If they are sent out from a regional centre it is unlikely that you will get the same engineer each time, and if you have arranged your after-care via a national energy company you may find yourself dealing with a national call centre based at the opposite end of the country from where you live.
Your local/regional supplier, on the other hand, is more likely to employ their own engineers in-house. This makes them more accountable to customers and over time, from the moment they have fitted the boiler in your home they will know the specifics of its location and accessibility, any quirks in the boiler itself and in the heating and hot water system.
The same engineer is also more likely to visit you for regular servicing and boiler/system maintenance.
You will get to know them, and they you. Any problems and the company’s main office are easier to contact.
And you have will have the security, peace of mind and confidence that if there is a mid-winter emergency they are nearby and able to get to you when it really matters.
And last but not least do not be afraid to ask for references. A reputable firm will be more than happy to put you in touch with their customers so you can ask about their standard of work and what it’s like to deal with them as a firm over the longer term.
In many respects, references are a far better way to gauge a firm’s work than relying on ‘Check Trade’ platforms.