So, you are ready to find a contractor to build your climate controlled wine room. Here are some questions to ask the contractors that you are considering. If possible, find someone that specializes in wine rooms but still ask these questions.
1. How many climate controlled wine rooms have you built and can I talk to some of your clients? You want someone that has experience with the issues involved with a climate controlled room. It is one thing to build a deck or remodel a kitchen, but another to correctly build a climate controlled room.
2. What materials will you use for the vapor & moisture barriers? How will you install this material?
The product used to create these very important barriers is just as important as the installation. The right products installed incorrectly is just as bad for you as the wrong products.
3. Do you know why the barriers are required and what happens if they are not installed correctly? This question may be a stretch for your average contractor but one never knows. If he/she does know the reasons behind the barriers, then they probably know how to do the work correctly.
4. Does the refrigeration equipment that you are installing make noise and does it exhaust hot air? Most of the self contained units are noisy and exhaust hot air. It is not a good sign if your person does not know this or tries to convince you that they do not.
5. What is the process for repairing the refrigeration equipment if it fails? You do not want equipment that has to be returned to the manufacturer for service. This is a huge hassle and could leave you with no refrigeration in your wine room for weeks.
6. Does your refrigeration equipment increase the humidity in the room without any additional equipment? This is a tricky question and will really show if your guy knows anything about the equipment and climate controlled rooms. Most refrigeration does not increase humidity unless you add a humidifier. The equipment designed for wine rooms will manage the humidity levels more efficiently than a standard unit but even they do not add humidity into the room.
7. Does your insurance cover the repairs if mold develops? Mold will develop if the wine room is not constructed correctly. Your contractor should have insurance that will cover the cost of the repair if the room develops mold.
8. Are you building the racks yourself or buying kits? How the racks are built is up to you. The idea behind the question is to make sure that there are no surprises.
9. What kind of door are you installing? The door needs to be exterior grade with weather stripping and a threshold. If your guy does not know this, beware.
10. How much does a bottle of wine weigh? This might be another trick question but think about it. You are asking them to build a room designed specifically to hold one thing – wine bottles. Is it too much to ask that they know some basic details? Additionally, they might not build the racks correctly if they do not know the weight of the bottles.
The specific answers to these questions are important but so is the contractors’ response. If they get defensive and shifty with their answers, beware. On the other hand, it is not necessarily a bad thing if they admit to some lack of knowledge.
Jost Lunstroth is VP of Vineyard Wine Cellars, a Texas company that designs and builds climate controlled wine storage systems.