It pays to call around
We heard recently from a customer who had been shopping for a water heater. She had been checking the big box stores which all offer installed packages through independent contractors. She was surprised to find out that our pricing was less.
I think that it is a common perception that even an installed price through one of the “Do it Yourself” companies is always going to be less than using a professional contractor directly. That is simply not the case. While their prices are sometimes lower, sometimes they are not. You also need to remember that your home is probably your largest investment. If pricing is similar, look at the value as well. Generally, a contract purchased through the big box stores is very exclusive to the install of the water heater itself and possibly some accessories. But when you are dealing with a plumbing contractor directly, they are going to be able to check for any other plumbing issues in your home. They will be able to fix those on the spot, saving you time and scheduling hassles.
Consumer warranties vary widely as well. A heater purchased through a “Do it Yourself” retailer may come with a “Do it Yourself” warranty, even if you purchased an initial install package. Make sure you do your research up front. At the end of the day, it pays to call around.