Whether it is to increase your home’s resale value, allow more natural daylight and ventilation, or improve its appeal, skylight installation is a home remodeling decision that requires careful consideration. Deciding which skylight design will work best for your home and where to install it are decisions that require consulting experienced professionals. For example, one rule of thumb for skylight installation is that for rooms with several windows, the size of the skylight should not exceed five percent of the floor area, while the size limit for rooms with few windows is 15%.
Considering the huge cost outlay required for a skylight installation, energy inefficiency, moisture leakage, and home damage are certainly not problems you want to deal with later. That is why you should make an informed decision on which installation contractor near you to hire by asking the following questions:
Professional licenses are issued as proof of a contractor’s qualification and proficiency. Although specific requirements for licensure vary, government agencies and other license-issuing bodies will typically assess candidates on their level of knowledge, training, and experience before a license is issued. Ensure to see a copy of your contractor license before signing off on the paperwork. You may contact the licensing agency to determine the validity and status of your skylight installer’s license.
Thirty states require statewide licensure for glass and glazing contractors who handle skylight installation. While licensure requirements for skylight contractors differ from one state to another, they generally involve passing exams and showing proof of education and work experience. Arizona (R-65), California, Hawaii (C-22), Nevada (C-8), and Massachusetts are some of the states that require work experience and exams for licensure. In addition to these two requirements, Utah (S240) and Virginia states require pre-licensure education. States such as North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia (82) only require examination for glazing licensure. Note that in states where a statewide licensure is not required for glaziers, licensure may be mandated by municipal authorities.
You should contact the local building and construction regulatory board office near you for skylight contractors’ relevant licensure requirements.
Skylight installation contractors spend a lot of their time on roofs of buildings and therefore are exposed to the risk of falling, slipping, and tripping, which is responsible for 880 fatal occupational injuries in 2019 alone. Hence, you should never underplay the importance of a proper insurance cover. States typically set insurance and bonding as a licensure prerequisite for building contractors. Two of which majorly are:
- Liability Insurance: This type of insurance cover provides adequate financial coverage for professionals against liabilities that may arise in their work. Some of these liabilities include property damage, injury to persons, and consequential damages.
- Workers Compensation Insurance: This typically covers the cost of medical care for a worker who suffers work-related injuries and also provides for a portion of wages lost as a result of the injury.
Therefore, you should not overlook these insurance requirements, as apart from covering you and your property for consequential damages, you will be exonerated from a Personal Injury lawsuit if a worker gets injured on your property.
A surety bond is not an insurance policy but works in a similar manner. It provides cover specifically for your project against a skylight installer’s service default and abandonment. In the event of such, the surety company, playing a similar role to an insurance company, is compelled to carry the costs that will be required to complete your project.
Shoddy contractors near you may envisage that you will ask for proof of bonding and insurance, but do not play into their hands by taking their documents as proof. Make sure to contact the bonding firm or insurance company to verify the status of such documents.
While all skylight installation decisions have similar goals, they are executed differently, depending on the specifics of each client. You need to know a contractor’s specialization to be certain they can handle your skylight installation needs. The major skylight installation specialties are:
- Tubular Skylight Installation: This type of skylight installation is typically used in rooms that are too small to accommodate a full window or that simply do not have direct access to the home’s roof. Direct skylight is captured by the tube-shaped device’s rooftop lens and then transmitted through the device’s reflective shaft. The transmitted natural light is then diffused around the room area to create an even lighting effect. Tubular skylights normally require less labor to install, and as a result, are more affordable.
- Fixed Skylight Installation: This involves installing skylight outlets that can not be opened. They are the most basic form of window-sized skylight installation and are reputable for being leak-proof. Since they can not be opened to let in the fresh air, they can not serve temperature regulating purposes.
- Ventilated Skylight Installation: This has to do with skylight outlets that are more similar to roof windows. In addition to providing adequate lighting for the room, they allow for humidity control because they can be opened to allow in the fresh air and let out heat. The opening and closing functionality can either be manual or remotely controlled. They are the most expensive kind of skylight installation and, sadly, are also the most prone to leaks and faults.
You will have to discuss your preferences and budget with your skylight installation contractor, who will then provide you appropriate options.
Skylight installation contractors typically work in crews. Depending on the scale of your job, you are sure to have more than one person handling it. It is your responsibility to ensure that the main contractor and the co-worker(s) are adequately qualified and covered. There will usually be no cause for alarm when the additional hands are your contractor’s employees. This is because they are normally covered by your contractor’s workers compensation insurance and liability insurance cover.
For independent third parties involved in your project, the responsibility to ensure that they meet the job’s minimum requirements rests on you. You can also instruct your contractors beforehand to ensure they only engage qualified and properly covered hands.
Ensuring that all the hands involved in your project are covered leaves you rest assured that you are covered in the event of substantial property damage or a work accident.
Manufacturers and service providers typically issue warranties to give customers assurance of the service’s or the product’s quality. Professional skylight installers near you will be willing to give a warranty of their workmanship as a show of faith for their proficiency. Skylight installation costs are expensive, and it is only wise to get security for such an investment against poor service or product by seeking a warranty. A dissatisfied customer may pursue a warranty claim if a product is found to be defective or below the acclaimed standard or when a service is found to be poor.
Manufacturers of skylight products will generally recommend that a product is only installed by well-trained and certified professionals, with some providing in-house installation services or making specific recommendations. This is sometimes made a condition for making a warranty claim. Carefully study the warranty brochure to be clear on the warranty’s scope, duration, and terms. Typical full skylight warranties cover between ten to 30 years and offer coverages such as a leak-proof warranty, hail warranty, frame warranty, and blinds and controls warranty (for automated skylights).
The safest warranties are written. Get written service warranties from your installation contractor and be certain of its coverage and duration.
Most often than not, skylight installations require local permits for the purpose of safety and compliance to city or county-level ordinances. For licensed skylight installation contractors near you, they will typically know what permit they are required to pull and what the requirements to pull them are. If your contractor has never done skylight installation in your locality, ask them if they have made findings and obtained the job permit required.
Some of the localities which require a skylight permit include San Mateo and San Jose in California, the City of Port St. Lucie in Florida, and Denver City in Colorado. Ask at the local building regulatory agency whether or not a permit is required. In certain localities, you may be allowed to seek a permit as a homeowner.
Project references are generally essential, and more so for projects involving substantial cost outlay. A skylight installation contractor with a track record of quality services will be more than willing to provide you with past references. It is specifically recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to request a minimum of three past work references. This gives you a window of opportunity to assess the contractor’s job quality and customer satisfaction.
In today’s largely digitalized world, you are also very likely to find a contractor’s business reviews and client feedback on the internet. Better Business Bureau, Google Business Reviews, and Yelp all provide great business review services from clients near you. In addition to physical references, you may ask to see a portfolio of more of their verifiable past projects. This will certainly also give you an inkling of what their skylight installation specialization is.
A business license or business certificate lends credence to the identity and legality of any business entity near you and is helpful in preventing widespread business imposter scams. A commercial license is proof of business registration, professional licensure, tax compliance, and financial responsibility. Your state’s Office of Secretary of State provides business verification services where you can authenticate a business’ licensing claims.
Some of the common problems experienced after skylight installation include:
- Skylight leakage resulting in mold, mildew, wood frame rotten, floor damage, and drafts
- Roof ventilation problems
- Overheating, which may result in rising energy costs
The cost of installing a skylight is primarily affected by your location. Therefore, a cross-state accurate price can not be provided. The following are the industry-based cost range for different skylight installation projects:
- Size of the skylight outlet: The larger the skylight, the more materials, time, and efforts it will take to install.
- Mount type: Deck-mounted skylights require more time and effort to install and, therefore, are more costly than curb mount. It is more preferred because it aligns horizontally with the roof and is less noticeable from afar.
- Glass and frame material: Double plane glasses are the most expensive screen materials, while wood is at the top of skylight frames’ cost scale. Your total installation cost, hence, depends on the materials you intend to combine.
- Type of building: The higher your home’s height is, the more effort it will take to reach your roof. This consequently translates to more cost for you.
- Skylight type: Automated and more sophisticated skylights cost more on average than tubular and fixed skylights.
Generally, skylight installation contractors can enter the job with a high school diploma or equivalent and then learn on the job or apprenticeship. Apprenticeships typically run for around three to four years, and basic instructions include the usage and handling of tools, measuring, and cutting, installing, and balancing frames and glasses. More technical aspects include installation and general construction techniques, blueprint sketching and reading, safety practices, and first aid administration.
A certificate of apprenticeship is typically accepted as a basic qualification credential, while advanced certifications broaden competence and employment opportunities. Some of the available certification programs include the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (AGMT) program. The National Glass Association(NGA) also offers continuing education programs and certifications for interested members.
Only a trained skylight installation contractor can give you a top-quality installation that comes with liability coverage. The cost of correcting a faulty installation that a handyman did will certainly crowd out the cost differential you were offered for the initial installation. It is, therefore, a wiser decision to hire a licensed and adequately covered installation contractor near you.
Furthermore, skylight installation involves dealing with glasses and work tools which are capable of causing bodily injuries. Notably, glass and glazing contractors and roofers jointly suffered over 11,500 non-fatal occupational injuries in 2019, further underlining the susceptibility of skylight installation contractors to work-related injuries. Hiring a licensed and properly covered professional provides coverage for you from financial liabilities of treating occupational injuries.
Besides, your insurance policy provider may decline to provide you coverage in the event of damage if they find that the appropriate professional did not do the installation.
There are two basic categories of expenses that you may incur after you install a skylight, the appropriate professional did not do the installation, and they are:
- Enhancements costs: These expenses are related to improving your skylight’s operation and adding additional functionalities. Some of the most common improvement expenses include electric shades for dimming the light, impact glazing to provide protection against brute force, and insect screens to keep insects and pests out.
- Maintenance costs: Part of skylight maintenance involves roof maintenance. This can include painting your wooden skylight frames, adding caulk, and ensuring that the skylight flashing and asphalt shingles are in good working conditions to prevent moisture from leaking in.
Whether or not the skylight installation is part of a home improvement or renovation project will decide this. Property damage or loss incurred by fire, hurricane, or vandalism is protected by homeowner insurance. If a previous skylight was destroyed by a covered incident, such as a fire, your homeowner insurance policy will cover the replacement costs.
However, none of these cases must have been caused by your negligence or wrongdoing, or your right to seek indemnity will be invalid. It's best to have your insurance terms clarified and spelled out in writing. In the case of an accident, this would help eliminate any doubt.
Like most small businesses in the US today, skylight installers near you, would accept digital payments. Examples of digital payments include mobile wallets, bank transfers, and debit/credit cards. Digital payments deliver a range of advantages, including affordability, speed, and convenience.
Aside from adhering to the FTC's advice not to pay contractors in cash, the contractor would be protected from fraud or theft. It is particularly advisable when dealing with contracts involving large amounts of money.