Solar tube installation - how to choose contractor?

alina_1April 10, 2014

Hi everyone,

We are experienced DIYers, but there are things that we would not do on our own. Like roof jobs.

Currently, we are planning to remodel our master bath. It is 9'x10' with vaulted ceilings (no attic space above) and one window that does not give enough light. We were thinking about installing a solar tube light.

I called three local companies to collect quotes. I will have two appointments. The third guy told me that he will just drive by our house to see "how steep is the roof" and then he will e-mail me a quote. He said that we can play with options later.

Two companies have great reviews online; the third one does not have any.

What I should pay attention to? What questions I should ask them? Ultimately, how I choose the right contractor?

What would be a reasonable price to install a solar tube with a dimmer and a light kit? We have asphalt shingles and I described the room above.
Probably, many people had such experience.
Thanks in advance for any info or advice :)

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Ask for 3 or 4 referrals, and then CALL every one of them.

How long ago was it installed? Good work? Clean work? Unexpected work? ever leaked? If there were problems, how did the contractor handle it?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Do you think it is appropriate to call customers?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 3:45PM
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I have called references on every one of the contractors I've hired. They will have screened and picked their best references, so make the calls and remember, they won't have picked a dissatisfied customer.

Yes, absolutely. I call those references and have a conversation with them. You'll be able to tell just how satisfied they were with the job. Not just "did this guy do work for you, and were you satisfied?" Ask the questions above, and try to have a 5 minute conversation on the phone.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:07PM
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Reputation trumps price on this one. Installation will probably be less than a thousand dollars.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I did a research on the pricing for this kind of jobs on the Internet.
It should be $250-$500 depending on the complexity.

After a couple of quotes, I am having a price shock...
The first quote was about $500. The guy said that is very straightforward in our case.
The second quote is going to be even more than this.
I also asked about a possible skylight installation. The second contractor said that only very narrow skylight would fit between studs and the price will be around $2800 "because it involves framing and drywall restoration on the inner surface".

I think it is outrageous for a single skylight (even with motorized venting)... Am I wrong??

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Where are you located? (And, yes, I do believe you are wrong... Sometimes small jobs are more expensive than you expect because they are small.)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:45PM
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I am in Maryland, DC metro area. Got two more quotes for the same job with the same fixture - both are around $1250. Basically, the labor charge is $800 for 2-3 hours of work.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:24PM
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They are cutting a hole in your ceiling, the drywall will have to be patched or the opening trimmed out.

They are running through your roof insulation. They need to reset/repack/refluff it into the joist bays and against the sides of the skylight. No gaps.

They are cutting a hole in your roof. They need to strip shingles, reflash, and reroof. Not just cut a hole, pop it in, and caulk.

Do understand that your roof's ability to properly shed water comes from proper and conscientious overlapping of shingles, flashing, and skylight trim, and not from a fat bead of caulk.

What am I saying? I'm saying be aware. And be wary.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Listen to mongo. Be afraid of people who are cutting holes in your roof. Be extremely careful who you hire. Highest price is not a good gauge for quality and integrity (but watch out for low ballers).

Have a contract stating exactly what they will do and make sure it is as mongo describes.

Licensed and fully insured including workmen's comp.

Great questions to ask from kirkhall.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 13:06

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Thank you guys!
Will make sure that everything is stated in the contract and will try to get references before we start.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:05PM
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Anybody who doesn't give you references, isn't worth using. It might take them a few days to call them themself and let them know/ask permission to use as a reference... Give them that time.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:14PM
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We would like to install solar tubes in my mother's recently purchased home, but I'm not sure who is the best type of tradesman to install - the roofer, a contractor, or what type of tradesperson usually installs tubes. As we're calling about roofing quotes, I have asked if they install solar tubes, but I'm concerned as they just say yes; however it feels more like a yes to get more business, not as regular procedure.

Also, it it's not too late, hint - make sure to check out the contractor, etc. with L&I to see if they carry insurance, licensed, workmans comp. etc. You would not believe the number of people who either get angry if questioned or are expired, if they ever carried those items. (Sidenote - I like our solar tube in an interior bathroom; it makes it like I'm not in a cave. A contractor installed the tube during a remodel, but I'm not crazy about some of the work so he won't be called back.)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:41PM
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We had 5 put in two years ago. Love them!

The price depends on the size. I had large ones put in the kitchen, dining room, den and small ones put in the bathroom and hallway.

We live in Florida and it makes the house so bright. Before doing it, the house was so dark we had to turn lights on during the day.

We used a company which makes and installs them. That's all they do. They work very fast, clean and we never had a leak.

The name of the Company is: Tubular Skylight, Inc. They are in Sarasota, Florida

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:20PM
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