Compare what you can physically do with what the particular shutter requires of you. Storm panels are a great—and inexpensive—way to protect windows, but if you are 75 years old and have to make thirty trips up and down a forty-foot ladder to put them up … there are better ways to protect your home. A more attractive option may be roll shutters or Colonial shutters.
If you are buying shutters for a new home, you can often include the cost of the shutters in the purchase price of the house. This can turn a high one-time expense into a manageable increase in your mortgage payment.
Do It Yourself?
You may be able to lower the cost of protection by installing storm protection yourself—sometimes. Do-it-yourself plywood combines the least expensive product and free labor: a real savings. At least until you have to pay the chiropractor. Many people choose this route.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) storm panels can be more expensive than they first appear. After all, they’re just a few tracks and pieces of metal. What could be easier? Many things. Unless you are very lucky, off-the-shelf storm panels and tracks will have to be cut to fit your openings. The extra work and waste this generates is time consuming and expensive. The cost of DIY metal storm panels (available in some of the “big-box” hardware stores) can exceed the cost of professionally installed storm panels. Installing storm panels is much more difficult than it appears. When you buy from an installation company, you are paying for the metal used, not the waste (called “drops”). Beyond anything else, the noise of cutting metal panels will make you long for the tranquility of a jackhammer.
Most other shutter types have unique complexities and are unsuitable for DIYers. Because they are custom manufactured for each opening, one measuring mistake can send your “savings” flying. Professional installers are worth their salt.
Selecting a shutter-installation company
The principles are simple:
- Get three “apples to apples” quotes on code-approved protection
- Get references and check them
- Make your choice.
A word about references. Everyone asks for them. Few actually check them. It’s almost a game of one-upmanship. Asking for references makes a good impression and puts the contractor on notice that you are not to be trifled with. It tells the contractor “Hey, I wasn’t born yesterday.” You look and feel good. He doesn’t care. He’s given you phone numbers for his sister, his cousin and his mistress.
Beware of a company that requires a large deposit. One third is typical. Anything above one half should set off fiscal alarm bells. Also, as with any home improvement, the final payment should be made after the work is complete.
Within the limits of your checkbook, your primary criteria should be quality, utility and ease of use. Years after a good installation you won’t remember what you paid. After a botched installation, you won’t be able to forget it.
Service contracts for covering your openings prior to a storm of your shutters can be a false economy if you are planning on using this service to avoid spending money on easier-to-use, more expensive shutters. A couple of storm threats requiring protection in place and the money you initially saved can be erased by service charges for putting the shutters up and taking them down. Another consideration is that even with the best contractor, you are at the mercy of that contractor’s employees.
Prior to a hurricane, the workers your contractor is depending on may be more concerned about their own homes. They may not show up and you could be left unprotected.
If you require a contractor to deploy your shutters have a written agreement, renewed annually. Usually this will entail an up front charge at the beginning of the season and an additional charge each time the shutters are deployed and removed. Make sure your contractor is reliable, licensed and insured. Check references!
There is nothing more expensive than a cheap tool. Ease of use, utility and quality should be given as much weight as you can afford. What good is a shutter you can’t actually use?
Generally speaking, the easier it is to deploy a shutter, the more it is going to cost. Plywood, the least expensive solution, is the hardest and most labor-intensive to use.
Storm panels are the next step up in cost and the first step down in difficulty. Storm panels are more work than the next step up the financial ladder: accordion shutters, and colonial shutters.
Hurricane screen, can be an exception to this rule. With a cost about that of accordion shutters, deploying hurricane screen is considerably more work than accordions.
The next step up in ease and price includes rolling shutters and impact-rated windows.
Prices for shutters are in constant flux, products that once cost $6 a square foot, now cost $10 or more. It is impossible to give actual pricing for shutters. By the time you get this book home, the pricing will be out of date.
Contact Shutter Service & Sales in Charleston today to learn more about getting roll down hurricane shutters for your home.