How to Evaluate Quotes from Gutter Contractors
Having a functioning gutter and downspout system can save your home from water damage, so it’s important to replace gutters when they have suffered the wear and tear from the elements. When it’s time to get new gutters for your home, the first step is to compare gutter contractor quotes. In fact, according to a recent Modernize survey, 63 percent of homeowners aim to compare three to four contractor estimates before hiring a professional and beginning a home improvement project.
Evaluating multiple gutter quotes from contractors helps homeowners better scope their budget, while signaling to professionals that they should be competitive with their pricing. But before requesting quotes from gutter contractors, it’s important to understand your project estimates and why quotes may differ from each other.
The Difference Between Gutter Quotes and Estimates
The terminology used with your gutter project is important. You may receive quotes vs. estimates or bids from local contractors – and these contain different pieces of information.
An estimate on a project is roughly how much the professional believes the job will cost. A contractor will rely on their past experience and expertise to create this estimate. The actual cost of the project may be more or less—within 10 to 15 percent.
Gutter quotes, or bids, become contracts once they are signed. A contract should be a detailed document that outlines all aspects of the project, including a cost breakdown. At Modernize, we pair homeowners with contractors that offer free gutter quotes for their project. This means homeowners are able to get accurate pricing information about their gutters project after speaking with gutter contractors.
Evaluating Gutter Contractor Quotes
Once you have received multiple quotes, it’s important to consider each one carefully. Your gutter project quote should be transparent, thorough, and even lengthy— depending on the scope. Every detail of the project should be noted, including the cost of materials, start and finish dates, and hourly rate. Your quote should also include factors like disposal/dumpsters, permits, and even porta-potties. Lastly, labor costs should be included in your quote.
It is important to consider these numbers— as well as how they are presented. A good gutter contractor will make sure the information is highly organized and properly itemized in the contract. If it isn’t, don’t hesitate to ask for a revised quote before signing on the dotted line.
Your Gutter Quotes May Vary
Ideally, your gutter quotes will be very similar, but sometimes bids will vary. But don’t be fooled by a significantly lower price—it may not be a good deal at all. Extremely low bids can be the sign of low quality work or even a scam, so it’s important to understand why an estimate or quote is extremely high or low.
Factors that lead to a higher bid:
- High-end contractors. Some professionals have more equipment and overhead, which may drive up the cost. But it also typically leads to higher quality work.
- Materials. The material that gutters are made from can have a huge influence on the cost. Gutters may be made of stainless steel, vinyl, aluminum, or copper. Copper is the most expensive material at about $30 per linear foot, and vinyl is the least expensive at approximately $4 per linear foot. The price of gutters can also be influenced by whether they are standard or seamless. We encourage homeowners to research the different types of gutters and their costs to find what works best for their home and budget.
- Warranties. Any warranties included with the new gutter system, including labor and materials, will also impact your quoted cost.
- Hidden costs. Research and be aware of hidden costs, like permits and tear-off fees. Discuss these factors with your contractors.
Factors that lead to a lower bid:
- Insurance issues. If a contractor does not have proper insurance—or does not have any insurance at all—they will often provide a lower bid. But do not be swayed by this lower price. A contractor with no insurance actually puts you at risk — their lack of coverage means you will be personally responsible for any labor injuries or damages that occur. Modernize recommends that homeowners always select a licensed contractor for their home improvement project.
- No warranty. A low bid may also be given by contractors that do not provide a warranty. This means if they do substandard work, you will be forced to pay for them to correct the problem or hire a completely different contractor to do the job properly.
- Scams. Unfortunately, there are some gutter contractor scams out there. For instance, if there has been a recent hurricane or storm, and demand for home improvement projects is high, scammers may prey on stressed homeowners. If a bid is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Fishing for business. Extremely low bidders may also be desperate for a job, which is never a reassuring sign. Make sure to ask contractors for testimonials or examples of their work before hiring them, to ensure they are a true professional.
For both high and low bids, always check your gutter replacement quotes for errors. Gutter contractors are human and, while rare, errors can happen. Communicate any and all questions and concerns with your contractors.
Research Your Contractors
Vetting your professionals will ensure you find the best, most reliable gutter contractor for your project. Here’s a few tips to ensure a gutter contractor’s trustworthiness:
- Visit a contractor’s website to ensure it is professional looking and updated.
- Check review sites and make sure they are accredited through the Better Business Bureau.
- Look at a gutter contractor’s content information to make sure they have a physical address and not a P.O. Box (which can be a worrisome sign).
- If something feels off about a contractor or business — go with your gut.
To help homeowners easily vet and find a trusted gutters contractor, Modernize recently created a free contractor checklist. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.
Other Tips For Your Gutters Project
Homeowners Can Negotiate Gutter Replacement Bids
Remember, you can always negotiate with your contractor on the price for the successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your contractors. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget.
Keep All Paperwork
Lastly, keep all estimates, quotes, and contracts in a folder, so you can reference these details easily if you have any questions or concerns throughout your gutters installation.