Gutters - copper/roofer taking for salvage

Old 02-08-06, 08:08 AM
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Gutters - copper/roofer taking for salvage


Recently a roofer re-did our roofs, an early season warm spell. When I met with the roofer late last summer I pointed out a nice copper gutter that was installed 2 or 3 courses up our roof over our dining room windows. This gutter has been a part of this house for years and we loved it with the sheen, etc.

Anyhow, when I examined the new roofing I discovered the crew had removed this copper gutter and not replaced it. The worker who appeared in charge responded that he was not aware of this, it was too late to do it, etc.

When I asked him for the gutter (obviously some value and could have been held for a re-install or other purposes) he told me they had folded it up several times and it was scrap. When I pushed him for it he took me to one of their trucks and it was in the back, separate from the other refuse they'd put in a large trailer. He seemed sheepish and I asked that it be removed. With it folded over, etc. it could never be replaced. This section was a good 12 ' long and had a very large flange that extended up the roof, under several courses.

My wife and I are furious about this and I just sent a letter of complaint and withheld $750. from our payment. I was shocked that they did not follow instructions and further appeared to be taking this for salvage! I do not know the going price for copper but am sure it's a lot higher than aluminum!

Is this a common practice for roofing contractors to take copper and more valuable stuff from a job site without asking the owner? Their price included removal of the old shingles, etc .but this gutter could have been re-used and I intended to repair one end with solder and had even bought an old solder irons and a torch to do it myself!

I suspect this roofer will persist in demanding full payment but we are prepared to challenge this and to put the word out to others to watch this contractor to make sure work is done per agreement AND precious metal, etc. are not just tossed out. Years ago another roofer took my old copper lightening rods and thick cables and he quit roofing and I made it known it seemed like a theft.

If any contractors out there could comment on such a practice I'd love to hear it.

Best, Ken in WI
Old 02-08-06, 08:50 AM
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Old story. Goes back to what was in the contract. Did it specify that the gutter was to be reinstalled? I agree that even if it was not reinstalled (whether intentionally or not) you should have been asked about removing it from the property. Many times, profitable scrap is deducted from the price of the job. Some home owners do not want to do the work of taking it to the scrap yard. You should have been informed of the removal. Your contract will be the deciding factor on the issue of withholding payment. Good luck.
Old 02-08-06, 09:25 AM
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Yes, you are right. The contract should have been very specific. I do, however, distinctly recall my conversation with the owner about that gutter and I guess I assumed that would be relayed to his workers. I do feel that the attempt to remove it for their obvious salvage (I guess if they wanted to show it was nothing but salvage they'd have put it in the trailer instead of separately in the back of the truck) points towards doing something they should not have done! This roofer has done lots of work around here; his flyer lists a whole bunch of satisfied customers and a note to see the back for those dissatisfied...a blank page. Well, at the very least they will not have our endorsement for being a satisfied customer. I was also remiss in not examing their work over the few days they were here. My wife and I were both with flu, bad colds, etc. and pretty well stayed in the house. In retrospect I should have been out looking around a number of times; perhaps I could have seen them pull and crush up that copper, got it on camera, etc.

I'll be curious as to his response when he sees the check, less $750, and my letter. I live in a small town and people sometimes ask each other about roofing, etc. I already had our village clerk tell me she'd have really went after a contractor for the same.

Thanks, Ken
Old 02-10-06, 04:29 PM
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Pay him in full when you have a nice new COPPER gutter installed.
I doubt very much you had a clause in your contract allowing them to remove and discard gutters without replacement. Otherwise there would be no thread.
Old 02-10-06, 05:24 PM
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Don't know how much your gutter weighed, but I'm guessing they could have gotten a couple of bucks a pound for it. There's a name for people like that -thief.
Old 02-19-06, 09:39 PM
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You should thank the contractor that took down the lightning rods. They do too good a job...;-) They WILL attract lightning.

Even on big commercial buildings they do damage though you could argue they are directing the majority of the strike away from more expensive equipment (HVAC units, antennas, etc.).

Anyway, on a wooden structure, it's not a good thing to have these installed. When I worked in sales, you'd look for people that had these on their houses...because they'd buy anything!

Just my 2 cents.
Old 02-20-06, 04:21 AM
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LIghtening rods

I agree that the rods needed to come down; my only issue was that, being copper, I should have been given 1st crack at them. But that was years ago and I did not call the roofer on those.

I did withhold money on the current copper gutter issue and the roofer cashed our check for the amount minus what I withheld. I have not heard from him. I am mindful he may try to collect in small claims, etc. but he may also decide they did wrong and not pursue me. He prides himself on good referrals from satisfied customers and may decide his reputation around here is worth more than coming after us. I am looking for a company that does copper to see what a new, similar, gutter would cost. At this point in time it would probably have to be along the edge of the roof since it would be way too costly to take the 1st 6 courses or so of shingles up to put it where the original was.

I have a hunch he did not authorize his crew to take the copper, perhaps he unloaded on them. It was obvious what they were doing by not placing it with the other refuse, keeping it by itself, etc.

Thanks, all, for your replies. Ken - WI
Old 02-20-06, 03:00 PM
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My personal bet is that you are way off base with the contractor wanting to sell your copper gutters. My experience, of which there is alot of, is that the whole load was headed for the land fill.
In land fills, you must separate the metal from the old roofing. I know of no landfill that does it different. But there probably are some. Most roofing contractors have a separate trailer to old truck back at their shop for the old roof metal. This gets hauled out a couple times a year. Not much value in it. It is not worth their time. The price of your old copper gutters is almost nothing. I did an old house a year ago, that had all old copper gutters. I piled all the gutters out on the street curb with a sign, FREE TAKE THEM. Guess what. In 7 days including a weekend, not one person even stopped and asked about them. I ended folding them up and hauling them to the dump.
I doubt if you will get your contractor to put up new copper gutters. My personal recommadation is to pay him. If you go to court you will lose, and he knows it. Another thought just came to mind. In most cases, the gutter guy is a different company then the roofing company. So becarefull, about what you say about him. Sounds like he did your roof correctly. In my roofing contracts, I always separate the roofing from anything else the owner wants done. Like gutters, new fascia, soffits, chimney fixed etc. Just my view point. Good Luck

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