Will I need any permits or inspections?
If you live in a community with a homeowners association, check to see if any approvals, permits, or inspections are required. Always obtain the necessary approvals from the association before beginning construction. Homeowners associations, towns, cities, and counties usually have a legal right to require approval before building. However, some states have solar-rights laws that may apply if approval is denied.
You will probably need to obtain permits from the building department that has jurisdiction in your state, county, or city. Plumbing, building, and electrical permits may be required. These permits typically require a final inspection after the system has been installed. Check with your solar heating system contractor to find out whether the price of obtaining permits and inspections is included in the bid and final cost estimate.
What about insurance?
If you are buying a solar heating system for your home, your regular homeowners insurance should cover your needs. However, if insurance coverage becomes an issue, please refer to “Getting help.”
Will I need warranties?
Warranties are an important factor in the bidding process and an important aspect of the system you choose. Make sure you know the warranties that your system manufacturer and installer offer for your equipment and hardware, as well as parts-and-labor warranties. Check to make sure the manufacturer can provide support and supplies if the installer is not available.
You can usually obtain a full-system warranty plus parts-and-labor for at least 1 to 3 years. This means you will not be responsible for system problems covered by the warranty in the first year or two of system operation.
Will I need a maintenance agreement?
A maintenance agreement may be part of your warranty. Have the contractor prepare a schedule of required or recommended maintenance before you purchase your system.