Normally I am an optimist, always looking for the good in people. But, can I just vent for a moment? I know that most of my blogs have been a very positive approach to home repairs, but let’s be honest – sometimes contracting a repair can make you want to scream! Recently, I feel like I know more than some of the estimators I’ve been talking to. For example, this is just a small morsel of what I went through during the very long, drawn-out process of finding a contractor to replace my gutters.
I have two downspouts on the driveway side of my house. I recently had one fixed, so it now drains into a crock; the other dumps onto the driveway. Here’s how the conversation went:
Estimator: “Well, this downspout is not up to code. It is not dumping the water two feet away from the house.”
I start thinking…great, this guy really seems to know what he is talking about. Maybe he can be creative to help fix this problem
Me: “Okay, since it’s right next to the house, how should we fix the problem?”
Estimator: “Well, we can extend the downspout and have it curve two feet into the driveway.”
My immediate reaction: Now, REALLY…. do you think this is a solution???
Me (being polite): “Well, it is a driveway. Wouldn’t the downspout get run over and make my new (EXPENSIVE) gutter into a speed bump? I think that would defeat the purpose.”
Estimator: “I guess you’re right.”
Me: “Is there any way that we could re-route the downspout?”
Estimator: “Well, it is code that the water must be dumped at least 2 feet away from the house. I guess there a few things that we can do.”
Me: “I would prefer not to dump it in the driveway, if at all possible, since there’s no crock there.”
Estimator: “Maybe we could run the downspout across your house and have it dump into your front garden bed, but that may be ugly.”
My reaction to this suggestion: Um…hello…A gutter across the side of my house, it was almost 8 feet long?!?
Me (restraining myself): “That doesn’t really seem to be very visually pleasing.”
Estimator: “Well, we could bring the downspout down right next to your front door and have it dump the water into your front yard.
Me: “I’m not sure that will work either. What if we expanded the downspout on the other side and use a larger capacity downspout that can handle more water? Since there’s already a downspout there, we wouldn’t have to worry about the aesthetics.”
Estimator: “That’s a great idea…”
I couldn’t make this up. I hope it’s as amusing for you as it was for me. I feel like I need a vacation after all this effort, and unfortunately this is just the start of the repair season!
I guess the whole point of this rant is to remind homeowners to do your homework. I have finally settled on a contractor, but I had to ask a lot of important questions throughout the process. That’s not to say that there aren’t contractors or estimators who give good estimates, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you want done and your wishes are being understood. If you know a little about the repair going in, you’ll know what questions to ask when the conversation isn’t getting very far.