Friday, September 08, 2006

Gutter Man Cometh

I should start by saying that this is the first time in over 4 years of working on the house that I’ve called in a professional. The reason this is important is because for all I know this may have gone smoothly. I’m accustomed to my own incompetence, but I know myself well enough to know that I have little patience with people when I am paying them to do a job. I shouldn’t have to beg and plead with people to give them my money.

The pros were brought in to install a very short run of rain gutter on the front porch. All of the gutters on the house were in pretty good shape when I bought it, except for the porch. This was largely due to the rot issues with the porch. The type of gutters that were installed were seamless aluminum gutters that used a long aluminum spike to secure the gutters to the ends of the rafters. The spikes look like giant novelty nails. The problem was that the porch ceiling joists had rot, and the porch was drooping, so the gutters just didn’t work right. In fact, the first winter I was in the house I had a water fall right over the front steps. The second winter I was in the house the gutter fell off the porch. I did a half-assed job of putting back up and that’s how it stayed until I recently rebuilt the porch.

After I finished painting the very tip-top part of the front of the house it was time to for a new gutter. At the hardware store they sell a galvanized gutter that is nearly identical to mine but it only comes in 10 foot lengths. The porch is 12-feet wide. That means I would have an unsightly seam along the front. If it were another spot on the house I would have probably used this method and done it myself, but it’s the front porch. I wanted it to look really nice.

I opened up the yellow pages and there were two places that said they installed seamless aluminum gutters. I called the larger add first. A woman answered and I told her what I wanted and she said they would send a guy out to have a look. Sure enough, he showed up a few hours later. The truck he drove pulled a trailer with all the supplies necessary to do the gutters. The trailer is equipped with a roll of aluminum and a machine that forces the flat aluminum through an extruding device that forms the gutter on-site. You can have a 300-foot run of gutter with no seams in it if you want.

The guy walks up and looks at my porch, and says with a sort of smirk, “That’s it? You just want the porch done?” It is a total of about 17-feet of gutter with one outside corner. I said, “Yep, just need the porch”. He asked a few other questions about the fascia, and I pointed out that the soffit and fascia were both new and I had sistered new ceiling joists to the old rotted ends. I finally asked, “Can you do it?” . He replied, “Well, we’re really busy right now?” . I’m thinking to myself, give me a fucking break. This is maybe an hours worth of work. How busy can you be. So I asked him how long it would take to do it. He said maybe 45 minutes. I looked at his trailer and said, “Well, do it” . He told me he’d have to check with his boss and he’d be in touch. He drove off and I figured I’d never see him again. That was about 2 weeks ago.

I let a week go by to give them the benefit of the doubt that they would come back and let me give them some money. I finally called the other place in the phone book that said they did seamless aluminum gutters. A woman answers the phone and I tell her what I need. She asked me a question about the profile of the gutter. It is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine when people in a certain industry speak to people not in that industry and use acronyms or terminology native to their industry and just expect everybody to instinctually know what they are talking about. That’s what she did. She used two terms of gutter profiles that I have never heard and expected me to just know what the hell it was she was talking about. We went round a round with a series of questions and answers and it didn’t take long for me to get irritated. I snapped at her a little because I felt she was making me jump through hoops like a dog. She finally said she would need to send somebody out to look at my gutters. I figured I’d never see anyone from that company, and it’s been more than a week and I haven’t.

I started to think about the gutters at the hardware store again. I need to get gutters up there before the first rains. I’m not going to have water pouring through the columns that I spent so much time rehabilitating. I was at the hardware store buying something else last week and I went over to look at the gutters. They had everything I needed. The gutter itself is galvanized metal and comes in 10 foot lengths. They have outside and inside corners that fit in to the longer lengths, and couplings to extend the longer lengths. They have all the mounting clips and downspouts, and it’s pretty affordable. I figured I could do the porch for less than $50.

I decided I would wait until I was finished painting the section I was currently working on and if no one got back to me I would just use the hardware stuff. It wouldn’t look as nice, but at least I wouldn't feel like I was begging to get someone to come to my house so I could give them my hard earned money.

Well, yesterday, the first guy calls me back. His phone etiquette was terrible, but at this point I didn’t care. He said he could come by in about an hour and he showed up 2 and a half hours later. It took him all of about 40 minutes to put up the stupid gutter and it cost me $170. Unbelievable. This is why I do things myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What I usally do is when I see a gutter person near the house, I ask them to drop by and peel off a few sections for me. I'm pretty sure that they pocket the cash instead of giving it to the boss man, but I have my gutters and put them up by mysef.

another option is to find a company that will make them for you at thier shop. I have two of those here in town. I drive up with my 30' extension ladder slide it out and attach the gutter to it and drive home a happy man.