For more than 20 years, Sunset Air of Lacey, Washington, has been partnering with an area home developer to install high-efficiency HVAC systems in hundreds of new homes. This ongoing partnership has been mutually beneficial for both companies and has resulted in continuous HVAC installation work for SMACNA residential and commercial HVAC contractor Sunset Air.
Sunset Air performs installations of high-efficiency HVAC systems and gas furnaces on about 130 houses a year for the developer. These single-family homes, built by Rob Rice Homes, are being constructed in many neighborhoods in the greater Olympia area, and range in size from 1,700 to 3,500 square feet.
To install an HVAC system in one of these new homes, the developer’s foreman provides Sunset Air with the design for the home, then holds a meeting with Sunset Air’s lead installer and apprentice to go over the installation specifics. Over the course of three days the two installers will completely install the ductwork for the HVAC system along with the exhaust venting for all exhaust points. They will then verify that the entire installation is complete and that it meets code requirements. Afterwards, Sunset Air will install the piping for all the gas appliances in the home.
Finally, Sunset’s duct services team will perform a ductwork pressure test to comply with the Washington state mechanical ventilation code. This test verifies that the ductwork system meets or exceeds the standard for allowed air leakage levels.
Fast forward 60 to 90 days later into the home’s construction, and a Sunset Air trim technician will perform the final portion of the HVAC system installation. “That's where we set registers and grills, set the thermostat, and add an air conditioner or heat pump if needed by the builder,” explained Matt Jones, Sunset Air’s residential division manager. “Basically, it’s the final touch to make sure everything's running like it's supposed to and that it's ready for the homeowner.”
Jones admits there can be challenges working with production builders because there are so many variables that can affect the process. “That's where the relationship with the builder is paramount,” he said.
The state of Washington has strict energy codes that outline where ductwork can and cannot be run. This creates a more energy efficient home for the homeowner. As the state energy codes continue to become more restrictive, Sunset Air has chosen their preferred path to provide a well-designed and properly installed system.
“We typically install our furnaces in garages for this developer,” Jones explained of the system installations. “The furnaces have a dedicated supply air duct coming off the furnace going into the crawl space. A second dedicated supply will go into the second floor.”
“Two separate trunk lines handle the two different floors of a two-story house,’ Jones added. “This gives better flexibility to control the air between the two floors. We're able to adjust the airflow without doing true zoning with zoning dampers. It provides a better product for the homeowner and improves their comfort.”
New Rob Rice homeowners are advised that Sunset Air is responsible for their heating system and receive a new homeowner orientation, free HVAC service for the first year, and a one-year maintenance appointment.
“We care about creating long-term partnerships and relationships, not just with builders, but also with customers,” Jones noted. Sunset Air has been a prominent community member since 1976 and has a core belief of providing great service to its customers.
These long-term relationships with customers are paying off. “We hear success stories all the time. The new homeowner moves into a house and they love it. They are happy with the heating system and many will ask to add air conditioning or sign up for continued maintenance through our service department.”
The relationship with Rob Rice Homes is strong, too. “Sunset Air has been my exclusive partner for heating and air conditioning for over 20 years,” said owner Rob Rice.
“I’ve built over 3,000 homes in 43 communities in the South Puget Sound area and nearly every one of my homes is a Sunset Air home,” he noted. “It is imperative to me as a production builder to partner with a reputable business like Sunset Air because I can trust that their standard meets ours. From install to service and warranty work, my homeowners are in good hands with them.”
Jones is optimistic about the future as well. “We value this partnership and will continue to collaborate to provide a good experience for our customers.”
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