Gutters are an often overlooked, yet necessary part of every home that channels rainwater to a safe area. Although it may seem like an easy job, installing a gutter without the proper tools and experience can be a dangerous undertaking.
According to the World Health Organization, the United States has the highest ladder deaths, recording over 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths every year from falls from ladders. From 2011 to 2016, there were 836 and 763 fatal falls from ladders and roofs respectively across the nation.
Also, an improper gutter installation can lead to roof leakage, basement flooding, foundation damage, and erosion, the same set of problems that the gutter is supposed to prevent. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to hire a professional gutter contractor nearby to install the gutter in your home. Listed below are some questions that can help you ensure you hire an adequately qualified gutter installation contractor near you:
Are You a Licensed Gutter Contractor?
Although licensing is not a mandatory requirement when it comes to gutter installation, it is always better to hire a licensed gutter installation contractor. This is because licensed contractors are generally more experienced than unlicensed contractors and have better technical knowledge on how to properly carry out the installation. You can verify any license that your contractor presents by contacting your local consumer protection office. You can also do this online through the portal provided by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies. Note that licensing requirements may vary by state, city, or county, and so you should always make inquiries at the local consumer protection office near you before embarking on a gutter installation project.
Are You Bonded and Insured?
Due to the nature of the job, gutter installation workers are highly susceptible to workplace injuries. In 2019, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 5,000 fatal occupational injuries, and 880 of these fatalities were as a result of falls, slips, and trips. In light of this, it is always a good decision to hire a gutter installation contractor that is not only licensed but is also insured and bonded. Hiring an insured and bonded gutter installation contractor offers you two-fold financial protection. The insurance ensures that you are not held liable for any workplace injuries that may occur during the project, while the bonding ensures you are not held liable if the contractor does not complete the project according to the terms that were agreed upon.
Before you hire a contractor near you, make sure that you ask for a copy of the contractor's certificate of insurance, and make sure that it includes general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. Many professional gutter installation contractors that are insured are also bonded, however, never make this assumption. Always ask for proof of the bonding, and make sure that it fulfills all the bonding requirements of your state of residence or the area where the project is to be carried out. If you are unfamiliar with these requirements, you should contact your local consumer protection office for specifics.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Gutters are typically made out of either vinyl, aluminum, copper, steel, or zinc. Some gutter installation contractors also use materials like wood and galvalume. Amongst these materials, vinyl is the easiest to work with while zinc requires professional installation because of its high contraction and expansion rate. These materials are typically installed two ways, in sections or seamlessly.
Installing a sectional gutter involves piecing together and joining various sections of the gutter material, while a seamless gutter is a single continuous length of the gutter material that is installed to fit perfectly. Seamless gutters are generally harder to install than sectional gutters because the material has to be measured and fitted perfectly. However, they have the advantage of reducing the likelihood of leakages. Therefore, finding out whether your gutter installation contractor is adept at handling and installing the material and style of your choice is necessary to ensure that a proper job is done.
Who Will Do the Work?
It is always important to find out exactly who will be working on a job you hire a contractor for. Even though gutter installation can be handled by one person, most contractors typically work in groups of two or more. This is usually done to speed up the project. When you hire a gutter installation contractor near you, make sure that the contractor tells you how many workers will be physically working on the job. Also verify that each worker is licensed, insured, and bonded. This is important because it frees you from any financial liability if any of these workers get injured on the job.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
A warranty is a type of guarantee that assures a consumer of the quality of the product or service they purchase. Warranties are usually written, but they can also be oral or implied.
Gutter installation contractors typically offer two types of warranties, a manufacturer's warranty, which is a warranty on the materials used for the installation, and a labor warranty, which is a warranty on the installation itself and the work that is done. Before you sign any agreements with a contractor nearby, make sure that you properly read the fine print on any warranties they offer, especially the conditions of the warranty and the period that it covers. If the warranty offered is oral or implied, insist on having your contractor put it into writing.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Gutter installation or repair can usually be carried out without a permit. As a general rule of thumb, a building permit is only required for projects that substantially change the appearance or footprint of your house. One advantage of hiring a professional gutter installation contractor near you is that they know whether any permits may be required for the type of project you want to carry out. Regardless of this, it is always a good idea to personally contact your local building/city planning department or consumer protection office to make sure that your municipality does not require a permit for this job.
Will You Provide References?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, requesting a list of references is one of the questions that you should ask before hiring a contractor for a job. This list should contain the names, phone numbers, and addresses where possible, of at least three clients that the contractor has carried out a similar gutter installation project for. You may insist on references living near you to easily access the clients.
Many professional gutter installation contractors also have pictures of projects that they have completed available on their websites, mobile devices, or in folders. You can go a step further by utilizing the services of a third-party website that allows you to view customer reviews to search for the contractor and find out the opinions of people that they have completed jobs for. Some examples of these types of websites are Google Reviews, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.
Do You Have a Business License?
Small businesses make up over 99% of the employer firms in the United States. Many gutter installation firms belong to this category. One of the requirements for owning and operating a business in the United States is registration and licensing. Note that the specific requirements for obtaining these business licenses vary. Any licensed, insured, and bonded professional gutter installation contractor is expected to have a license. You can confirm the status of your gutter installation contractor's business license through your local Secretary of State's office.
What Are Common Gutter Installation Problems?
The main purpose of a gutter is to channel water away from the foundation of your house. If your gutter is not properly installed and maintained, you can be faced with several problems, the most common of which are:
- Improper slopes
- Bad downspout draining
- Gutter joint separation
- Ice dams
- Back flows
Some of these problems are considered mild, like having water pool on the ground, while others have far more serious implications, like the flooding of your basement and damage to the foundation of your property.
How Much Does Gutter Installation Cost?
The average cost of installing a gutter in the United States is $1,200 - $1,600. Note that because of various factors like how many linear feet of gutter is to be installed and the type of material used, this figure may go as high as $8,000 or as low as $500. The time and labor expended during the gutter installation contractor, as well as the cost of additional materials, are usually also factored into the cost of the installation.
Some of the average costs for gutter installation materials and add-ons are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of a Gutter Installation?
The size of your house and the type of material used for the project are the main factors that affect the total amount of money you would pay for a gutter installation. Gutter installation is measured by linear foot, therefore bigger houses require more material, time, and labor, and invariably more money.
Another factor that affects the total cost of a gutter installation is the type of gutter you want installed. Gutters are typically sectional or seamless. Sectional gutters involve different sections of the gutter material joined together. This type of gutter generally costs less, and it has the advantage of easy repair because you can take out and replace a damaged section if the need arises. However, sectional gutters are prone to leakages after a while. On the other hand, seamless gutters are continuous lengths of gutter material that are custom-fitted into a particular area. This type of gutter has the advantage of being less prone to leakage, but they are more expensive to install and are not easily repaired.
Finally, the addition of gutter guards like wire mesh screens and heat tapes can also affect the total cost of a gutter installation. The proximity of your residence to the installer's place of business may also influence the total installation cost. Hence, it is advisable to hire a contractor near you.
What Qualifications Should Gutter Installation Contractors Have?
It is estimated that there is a combined total of over 260,900 roofers and sheet metal workers in the United States. Becoming a gutter installation contractor does not require any level of formal education and these types of contractors typically learn their trade on the job under a veteran contractor. However, many licensed gutter installation firms generally employ individuals that have at least a high school diploma or a GED certification and provide them with in-house training and apprenticeship programs.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Gutter Installation Contractor?
When it comes to gutter installations, it is always a good idea to employ the services of a professional gutter installation contractor instead of any handyman near you. Professional gutter installers are better suited to handle the different types of gutter materials and have been properly trained to install these materials. On the other hand, handymen may be well-versed in performing various day to day household tasks but they are not trained in any specific one, thereby creating an unacceptable room for error. Finally, a professional gutter installation contractor is more likely to be insured and bonded. This is important because it protects you financially if the job is not properly completed or in the event of an on-the-job injury.
What Are the Common Post Gutter Installation Expenses?
The most common expense that you can incur after installing a gutter is the cost of disposing materials that were used or discarded during the installation. In most cases, this cost is calculated into the bill that you are given by the gutter installation contractor. However, it is always a good idea not to make any assumptions. Therefore, always ask your contractor if they will be responsible for cleaning up the job site and whether this clean-up is included in the total bill.
Another common post gutter installation expense is the cost of cleaning the gutter itself. This should be done a few times a year to avoid problems like clogging and backflows. Many professional gutter installation contractors near you may also provide gutter cleaning services. If you are satisfied with the job that your gutter contractor has done, you can also decide to contract them to carry out regular cleaning of the gutter. Note that some contractors offer this service for a specified period as part of their warranties. However, if this is not the case, you will be required to pay a fee for the service.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Gutter Installation Expenses?
About 98% of all homeowners insurance claims are as a result of property damage. A homeowner's insurance policy does not typically cover gutter-related expenses that occur as a result of negligence, lack of maintenance, or old age. However, damages that occur as a result of disasters like windstorms, hurricanes, extensive hail, tornadoes, falling trees, and even fires, may be covered. Note that in many cases, the policy does not cover the complete cost for a total replacement of the gutter. You should always verify from your insurance company the type of policy you own, and the perils it covers. Insurance policies are generally grouped into two, named-peril policies that cover only specifically stated perils and open-peril policies that cover a wide range of perils.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Gutter Installation Contractor?
Like most small businesses today, many gutter installation contractors near you would accept digital payments. However, you should never assume that your contractor is willing to accept this method of payment and always verify with them. Digital payments are generally easier to transact and are more secure than cash transactions. They also provide a more accurate means of record-keeping. Note that if you pay for your gutter installation via cash or check, it is always a good idea to collect a receipt for record purposes.