Why Having Gutters on Your Home “Should” Not Matter

Architects and Contractors have been arm wrestling with each other since the beginning of time.

The reason being that architects love to hone in on aesthetics and contractors, on the other hand, tend to focus on practicality.

In fact, sometimes if there is not someone who serves as a conduit in the middle to serve as a mediator (I have played this role for as far back as I can remember!), things can get pretty brutal!

One great example of this is the existence of a gutter system on someone’s home.

Many architects do not love gutter systems, as their thought process is they take away from the architectural beauty of the home to varying degrees.

Contractors are the total opposite (shocking!) as they, for the most part, believe that gutters are vital to a home’s exterior as they work to keep water funneled away from the home.

Although I am very much of the mindset that all homes should have gutters, I do recognize that in theory gutters “should” be a “nice-to-have”, not a “need-to-have”.

The perfect example of this is a recent project that we were working on where we had taken the existing gutter system off the home in preparation for installing a new gutter system and in between the time when the existing gutter system was taken down and the new gutter system was due to be put up, a rain event occurred and water came into the house.

I received a frantic phone call from a family member of the elderly homeowner as the thought was that the taking down of the gutter system was the cause of the water coming into the home.

Knowing that this could not have really been the base reason, I tried to calm the concerned family member down as best I could as we had a variety of technicians descend upon the home.

After a short investigation, it was obvious as to why the water was coming into the home.

Although the gutters definitely were helpful in catching water off the main roof and guiding it away from the home, the real reason the water was coming into the home was that at the point where the flat roof below the gutter system met the main home, the rubber that served as the roof system was not ideally flashed into the home and any water hitting this area at the right angle and the right volume would absolutely make its way into the home.

This is not unusual.

Whether it is water coming in a basement, hitting the house at an odd angle and causing wood to rot out, or getting inside of the home as in this example where a roof was not terminated properly as it met the home, having a gutter system in place should not matter.

All of these types of situations are scenarios where if other things were done properly, the crutch of having a gutter system really would not be needed.

Many times, when a home is not graded properly, the exterior is not sealed correctly, or some other area of construction is not carried out the way that it should have been in the first place, the lack of or functionality of the existing gutter system is called into place, when the truth of the matter is that if these other items were appropriately taken care of, a gutter system would not be needed.

While I still believe gutter systems are an absolute necessity for people’s homes as they serve a variety of useful purposes (not oversaturating the perimeter of the home with moisture, allowing for the collection and subsequent recycling of rainwater, etc.), I also recognize that in many cases gutter systems actually aid in masking true issues on our homes that may not even be known, but that will stay hidden indefinitely as long as the luxury of having the gutter system in place to cover up these sins will allow.

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