Our weekly words almost always evoke reader response. Such is the case with our past two columns. Although we disagree with these readers’ viewpoints, they contain insights that may be worth consideration.
Concerning last week’s response to a reader’s question about dealing with a clogged gutter, one reader writes:
I first saw this in Denmark and it is a marvel in its simplicity and functionality.
Install the rain gutter of your choice — plastic or metal. But don’t install regular downspouts. In the gutter’s downspout hole, insert two large-diameter nails in a cross. From this cross hang a large-diameter chain. The chain should be about two feet longer than the distance from the gutter to the ground.
Lower the chain into a cistern, a hole at least two feet deep and a foot in diameter. Then fill the hole with rocks. The rocks will hold the end of the chain in place and allow rainwater to percolate into the soil with no erosion.
The open downspout hole cannot clog because the water actually jumps over to the chain and gravity carries the water down the chain’s coils. The gutters remain free-flowing and effective.
We agree that chains are a simple, attractive, inexpensive and functional alternative to downspouts. But installing a chain in place of a downspout won’t stop a gutter from getting clogged. In fact it will make the problem worse. The nails you mention will create a snag to catch the leaves as they flow down the gutter.
Two weeks ago, a reader wanted to know how to reach a settlement with a contractor who installed the wrong roof. Our reader wanted to avoid the hassle of reroofing, but still wanted to be compensated for the screw-up. He wasn’t looking to take the roofer to the cleaners; he was just trying to come up with a fair solution.
The roofer, who admitted the error, was willing to refund the difference in the cost of materials. Our reader wanted to be compensated for the reduced life of the roof.
We agreed that he should be compensated for the reduced life of the roof in addition to the cost of the materials. We suggested that he amortize the cost over a 20-year and 30-year period to reflect the 20-year shingles he got versus the 30-year shingles he contracted for. Our suggested settlement price came to $830.
Several readers agreed with our advice in principle, but thought our proposed settlement short-changed the property owner. One wrote:
I agreed with everything you said in your column, but your final calculation is wacky. Even by your method, the loss to the customer is not $83 times 10 years, because he will not have a roof worth $83 less per year for those last 10 years. The roof will be worthless after 20 years. The loss, even by your method, is $1,670 — the cost per year of a 30-year roof times the 10 years he lost.
Another reader came to the same conclusion:
I believe you have understated the settlement that is due this homeowner by a factor of 100 percent. The way I look at it, he got only two-thirds of what he paid for, so he was shorted by one-third. One-third of $5,000 is $1,666.
We see the point but don’t necessarily agree. Assuming that the roof is replaced at the 20-year mark, the value of the lost time would be $167 (amortized per year value) times 10 years. It is quite possible, even likely, that the roof will be in place for more than 20 years. The bottom line remains the amount the property owner and the roofer can agree to. We stand by our advice. Whatever the settlement number, it should be fair to both the property owner and the roofer, and it should come without court intervention.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.