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In our awning installation and cost guide, you will find a detailed breakdown of all costs to install an awning and to hire a contractor for the job.
For a lot of people, an awning to shelter a window or door is an essential part of the house. Not only do they shield the items inside the opening from the effects of strong sunshine but they also protect open doors and windows from torrential rain.
We use sunglasses, sunhats, and visors to shield ourselves from the effects of the strong sunlight, why can’t we provide the same courtesy to our home.
I expect everyone has seen an awning over the front of a small greengrocer’s shop or butcher’s shop. These are designed to stop the sun from heating the meat on display and ripening the fruit and vegetables inside the windows. Greengrocers also sometimes have their wares on display outside the shop front and in this case, the awning will protect not only from the sun but also from the rain.
Although awnings are very commonly used by high street shops, today we are going to discuss the use of an awning in a residential setting. We will discuss the many different ways of using them in the home, what types there are, how to install them and how much they will cost to buy and fit.
First of all, let’s get it straight in our minds what exactly we mean by an awning. Many people often become confused over the difference between an awning and a canopy. In fact, many people use the terms interchangeably.
Probably the most important differences between the two are the different ways that people use them.
Window and door awnings have the following uses:
If the color and patterns on the awnings are carefully considered, they can add style to the home by complementing and contrasting the existing architectural design and color.
They are permanently attached to the building and can be folded away when not needed (more about this later).
Canopies provide the following uses:
So we can see that the main differences are that:
Awnings provide shade around windows and doors and protect those indoors as well as their belongings from the effects of sunlight and heat.
Canopies provide comfortable shade for those people sitting outside.
There are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to find out whether an awning or a canopy is the best thing for your circumstances.
Ask yourself these questions and you will soon see whether you need an awning or a canopy, or why not have both?
A canopy is a simple thing to buy. Just go to your local home improvement store and look in the garden furniture section. They will have many different types from which you can choose.
Choosing an awning is more difficult and this is what we will be discussing today.
The answer to this one is to decide what we want the awning to do. Where do we need the shade?
✓ Usually, we need some shelter over open areas that would otherwise lead to unwanted exposure to the elements.
✓ We like to spend lots of time sitting on our porches. If the porch hasn’t already been built with a roof, let’s put an awning over it so we can sit and look around without squinting or being exposed to the rain.
✓ We like to have our breakfast or a long cool drink on the balcony without having to worry about applying sunblock. Install an awning here.
✓ We like to barbeque on the patio even in the rain. So we can put one on the house right here.
✓ We have expensive furniture, carpets, and artwork that we don’t want to be damaged by the sun. Install awnings over the windows.
✓ We like to have lots of fresh air in the house but don’t want the rain to come through the open door. Have one over the doorways like a small porch.
✓ We don’t want our air conditioner to work overtime trying to cool down the unwanted heat. Prevent the indoor air from becoming too hot by installing awnings on the windows.
✓ You like to sleep with the curtains open but don’t want the morning sun to stream into your bedroom. Put an awning on the bedroom windows.
✓ You have a metal door which becomes scorching hot in the summer. Prevent burns by shading the door with an awning.
Domestic awnings are available in many different styles, and shapes, and come in virtually any size, pattern, and color. When you choose you must take your time to ensure you choose the correct one for your home that best suits your existing exterior. Once you have decided on this the next step is to decide on which design you want.
Stationary. This is an awning permanently installed in the open position without the option to fold away. They are strong, sturdy and very stable and really could be regarded as an open porch. Disadvantages are that they can catch the wind and in winter might become overloaded with snow. Make sure you have these properly installed by an expert to ensure the fixings are strong enough to withstand the added impact of strong winds and the extra weight of snow.
Portable. Yes, these are awnings and not canopies. They are freestanding and can be easily moved to another location around the house depending on where you want the shade. They can also be used to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day.
Retractable. These can be manually rolled up or folded away when not required. This gives a useful awning in the summer with the added bonus that you can put them away when the weather turns bad and windy. You can also allow some light into the house when the sun isn’t so strong.
Motorised. These are the same as the retractable ones except that they have a motor to roll or fold the awning. Usually, they have a remote control so this can be done from indoors if it is raining. Some motorized versions are also equipped with sensors that monitor the weather and adjust the awning according to the type of whether you have. Opening the awning when it is sunny and retracting it when the light fades or the wind picks up. The motorized awnings always have a hand crank so that they can be operated if the motor stops working.
Full cassette. The cassette is an enclosed case fitted to the wall into which the awning retracts. This provides protection for the awning from dirt, bird droppings as well as damage from high winds.
Half cassette. This is the top half of the full cassette which acts as a cover for the top of the awning rather than as a fully enclosed case.
The usual materials for an awning are a fabric made from treated canvas or a synthetic equivalent. The framework can be made from steel, aluminum or wood or any combination thereof. Obviously, for strength and proof against the weather, the ideal materials would be a synthetic fabric covering an aluminum framework. Whichever materials are used they have to be proof against strong sunshine, heavy rain and the weight of snow. They also have to ensure the fabric does not eventually stretch and form a basin to collect the rain and snow.
The sequence to install a retractable awning onto the side of your house couldn’t be easier. It is well within the capabilities of the average DIY practitioner and can be done easily on your own although you might find it easier to have two people to lift the awning into place. The following steps to install an awning onto your house are indicative only as each manufacturer has their own detailed procedure and the distances may vary depending on the size of the awning. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions that are supplied with the awning when you buy it.
✓ Mark the position of the awning on the side of the house. If you are installing it over a window or door you must make sure the awning is positioned centrally over the opening.
✓ Use a spirit level to ensure the marks are level.
✓ Use a chalk line to mark the location of the support brackets.
✓ Mark the positions of the holes ensuring the brackets are vertical.
✓ Drill the holes using a suitably sized drill bit and an electric hammer drill.
✓ Fit the brackets to the wall with suitable fixings and use the chalk line to ensure the brackets are level and plumb.
✓ Lift the awning (you might need two people for this) and bolt it to the pre-installed brackets.
✓ Check the awning opens and closes easily.
✓ If you have fitted a motorized awning, plug the electrical lead into a power socket and use the remote control to check the awning opens and closes easily.
✓ Always remove the wrapping before installing.
✓ The fixings supplied with the awning are usually for a brick or reinforced concrete wall. If your wall is different from this then you will need advice on the type of fixings to use.
✓ You will be able to install the awning onto a wooden wall as long as the wall is sufficiently strong and you use appropriate fixings.
✓ Use two people to lift the awning into place.
✓ Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Although ignored by many people, safety equipment is essential. Luckily the cost of suitable equipment is very reasonable and will always be available to use on other DIY projects.
Most if not all awnings are constructed from weatherproof materials that are designed to withstand most types of weather usually encountered. There are however a few simple maintenance tasks that need to be done periodically. The following will give you an idea of the maintenance steps needed but you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow their recommended practices.
✓ Do not leave stains and bird droppings on the fabric for prolonged periods. Use warm soapy water to wash off any marks.
✓ Metal joints, gearbox, hook shaft to be lubricated with silicone lubricant or WD40 every four to six months.
✓ Framework and fabric to be cleaned at least annually with a sponge and warm soapy water.
✓ Use a storage bag or rain cover on the awning for winter storage to protect it from the weather.
The main consideration when paying for a new awning to be installed is how much will you save on air conditioning and damage to furniture. Although this is probably a difficult idea on which to put a definite cost, you will probably find that the cost of an awning will be paid for many times over by what you save, and if you can install the awning yourself then you will save so much more. The figures given in this section are indicative only and do not attempt to give you a definitive cost. The actual figures will depend on the number, type, and size of awning you choose together with the location in which you live.
|Costs to install a typical awning|
|Average range||$ 1,500 to $3,000|
|Cost to buy awnings and accessories|
|Retractable awning||$300 to $700||Depending on size & type|
|Non-retractable awning||$500 to $900||Depending on the metal and size|
|Motorised retractable awning||$2,500 to $3,500||Depending on size, type and material|
|Side curtains||$100 to $300||Per set depending on size|
|Mildew resistant treatment||$50||Per awning|
|Costs of installation contractors|
|Carpenter||$60 to $70 per hour|
|Electrician||$60 to $70 per hour|
The main factors affecting the costs of having awnings installed are the variables already touched upon elsewhere in this article:
Number of awnings. The number of awnings you intend to have fitted will be a major factor in the cost. It may just be one awning over the deck or you might be considering doing the whole house.
Dimensions. Larger awnings will be more difficult to install than smaller ones. Not only is it more difficult to make sure they are installed level it is also more difficult to manhandle a long awning such as one you might fit over a deck or patio or large balcony.
Fabric material. Is the material of construction fabric and aluminium or something heavier such as steel or solid wood? An awning that is awkward or heavy to handle is one that will put cost onto the job.
Framework material. Frames can be steel, aluminium or wood. Once again a framework that is awkward or heavy is not just difficult to lift into place it will also need extra strong fixings. These tend to cost more than regular fixings.
Style. The style of the awning and therefore the amount of work which went into its design and manufacture will seriously affect the retail price.
Retractable or non-retractable. This determines how many moving parts the awning has and therefore the number of distinct assembly operations there are.
Motorised. A motorised awning will need an electrician to make sure the motor is wired up correctly to the mains. Another contractor means extra costs.
Location. Where you live and the location of your house has an effect on the cost. If you live miles from anywhere you can be sure that the contractor will add travelling time onto his quotation.
Access. Are the places where the awnings have to be fitted easily accessible or do the awnings have to be carried indoors and upstairs or elsewhere? Accessing difficult positions will also take up more time for the contractor. Upstairs rooms will receive as much sun light as downstairs rooms or patio so this is very relevant. If you are fitting awnings to upstairs bedrooms or balconies you will need to have some way for the installer to access above the window. The obvious methods for doing this are:
Fixed scaffolding would be too expensive to use unless one had many windows to install and could access all of them from the scaffolding.
Ladders would be possible to use but it would be very awkward and dangerous to work from them.
Scaffold towers would be the best access solution as they provide a stable and safe working platform from which to carry out the installation. Scaffold towers can be rented from all tool hire shops and are easily assembled by the user.
Time of year. Reputable contractors will always have plenty of work but some months are easier to work outside than others. The spring or early summer would probably be the best times of year to have the work done as the weather would be more favourable.
Unfortunately everyone else will want their outside work done too so be prepared for the contractor to charge you premium rates during the fine months.
Many residential areas have rules about changing the appearance of the front of your property. In many places you will need to apply for and receive a permit so it would make good sense to contact your local government office to find out if there are any restrictions. If you live in a historic area or have a homeowners association you should find out if there are any restrictions on the style or type you are able to fit. You must not flaunt these rules as they are designed to give a sense of consistency in the appearance of the houses and give enjoyment to the residents. If you disregard any applicable rules or restrictions you will almost certainly have to remove the awning and you may have to pay a fine.
Phone the local building control office and first of all ask if it is allowed to install an awning. Secondly find out if there are any restrictions on the size or style of awnings. Ask specifically what you are allowed to fit. Ask them to give you an answer in writing, a verbal answer is not good enough as you want to be covered in case someone makes a mistake.
If you need to have a permit you will have to pay for the privilege, the price will vary depending on where you live.
If you live in an older home you may be bound by what is known as a ‘Grandfather clause’. This is a regulation that you must conform to if your home was built before a certain date when current laws came into force. Ask if there are any ‘grandfather clauses’.
Also, if you live in an older home which already has awnings that were installed when the building was built you may only be allowed to replace them if you install modern ones of exactly the same appearance. Don’t forget to tell the permit office that you already have awnings and find out the rules.
If you are hiring a contractor to install the awning then they should be able to follow through with the permit process for you.
Whatever happens, you must ask about permits and receive your answer in writing before you buy an awning or get one installed.
This is a very difficult question to answer as every model awning and every home is different but as a general rule it will probably take about two or three hours to install the awning and if you need electricity fitted allow another two hours for that. Bear in mind that there are many factors that can lengthen the time it takes to install.
If you are considering employing a contractor or a specialist awning company to do the job, always get an estimate of how long they think the job will take. If it seems excessive then ask why that is.
The secret of finding a good contractor who will fit your new awning is, to be honest and communicative at all times. Don’t be awkward with the contractor and don’t insist on something that is impossible to achieve. You will find that if you are fair and reasonable then the contractor is more likely to make a good job just that bit better.
Don’t be frightened to ask the contractor questions about the company. You are intending to spend money on your awning and you have a right to know a bit about the person who is going to install it. You will want to know if the company has fitted your type of awning before and how many have they done. Consider asking the following selection of questions to find things out. I am sure you can think of some others.
Look at the price. Although in the great scheme of things, fitting an awning is not a very big job, this is something you will have to live with for a very long time and you will want the job to be finished properly. If you think the price seems too low then ask yourself whether the quality of work is also going to be low. Usually it is true that poor quality installations lead to more maintenance costs and sometimes even refitting the awning.
You will be paying for the contractor’s experience. When you hire a contractor or a specialist awning company you want to have someone doing the job that knows what they are doing. Unfortunately, it is often the case that companies will assign trainees to jobs that they think are relatively simple. You have a right to make sure that the person who is fitting your awning has the necessary skills to do the job and if they haven’t (don’t forget trainees have to learn somewhere) then you want his work properly supervised by a qualified person.
Carry out some research. Ask around and do some browsing on the internet. You will need to know if the company or contractor you intend employing is reputable and has a good name in the neighborhood. Look out for companies that have just started up or those that change their name often, this might mean they haven’t got the necessary experience to do a good job. Visit the company at their registered address and see if there are any showrooms. Look at the workshops or offices and see what kind of place it is. Notice how the company is run and see if there are any problems with the workforce. This will normally give you an idea of how the company is run and whether they are reputable or not.
Warranties and guarantees. You will want to know what happens if the awning is faulty. If you are buying the product from a well-known store you will probably have no problem returning it but who is going to pay for the extra time needed to return it, especially if the fault was not obvious until the awning was fitted. You don’t want to pay to have the replacement awning fitted as well as the faulty one, do you? If the installation company is supplying the awning then usually you will be ok with situations like this but you must still make sure they will guarantee their work and product. Look in the small print of the contract to see if there is anything there and if it is reasonable. Go to a legal advisor if you aren’t sure and get their advice.
Liability. Who will be on your side in the event of a dispute? We all hope that nothing will be damaged during installation but what happens if the glass in a window breaks from a dropped tool or some kind of negligence? Sometimes it is the fault of the contractor and sometimes the damage may be just one of those things and is unavoidable. You need to be pre-warned by the contractor that if the worst happens, everything will be replaced or repaired to its original condition. What happens if something untoward affects your neighbour’s property? Will the contractor remedy that situation as well? You must make sure the company is properly insured for all damage to your property, your neighbour’s property and any common land. What happens if the contractor’s actions cause an injury or death? Make sure their insurance covers not only your person and your neighbour’s but also the wellbeing of the workforce as well. Make sure the contractor is licenced in your state to do the work you are asking of them.
Quality of the awning. Make sure you are buying a good quality product. It is no use buying and fitting an awning that is going to blow apart as soon as you have a gust of wind. Although the manufacturer will always try to cover their back by saying that you must not use the awning in strong winds, that type of weather is not always predictable and you may have a gust that would not affect a good quality awning. It’s not only the awning that must be good quality either. Make sure the fixings are suitable for the wall material and strong enough to support the framework and fabric under varying loads. If your awning is an electrically operated one then make sure the motor is protected from the weather and all electrical contacts are safe and grounded (earthed).
Finish the installation in good time. As stated earlier, installing an awning is a relatively simple and quick job so shouldn’t take that long to complete. You do not want a contractor who stops every five minutes for a cigarette or a cup of coffee. You definitely do not want a contractor who disappears after half an hour because he has just heard that the waves are perfect for surfing. Ideally, you want the job to be completed as soon as possible bearing in mind the limitations of the weather and access.
Don’t buy from a catalog only. Although seeing your awning in a catalog or a photo is very useful it never gives the true impression and is never a satisfactory alternative to seeing it at first hand. If the installer has a showroom then ask to see yours fully installed. If they haven’t then maybe they can give you an address of someone who has recently bought the same or a similar model. While we are talking about this, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the contractor for a list of people for whom he has installed awnings in the past. When you have the list, make sure you contact them and ask to see their awning. You can also ask the previous customers how professional the contractor truly is.
Is the contractor qualified? You should realise that hiring an expert to do the work is the ideal situation, but being an expert is not just about knowing how to use the tools and how to fit the awning. An expert also needs to know the non-practical side of things too. He needs to know the rules and regulations governing the installation. He needs to have an understanding of the safety aspects of using the equipment and what things might go wrong. If the rules are not followed properly (and the manufacturer’s instructions are a good place to start) then someone may end up having to pay out a lot of money. You don’t want that person to be you.
Have a contract drawn up. No matter how small the job you always should have some kind of agreement set out in writing to state what is going to happen and when. A contract doesn’t have to be a long winded document, as long as all the foreseeable problems have been addressed and each party knows their own responsibility then that is enough. If you aren’t sure how to go about it however or if the contractor’s contract doesn’t seem right, then by all means ask for advice from a legal professional. A legal contract must be in place before any work starts and must include:
Unfortunately, the construction industry has its fair share of con artists just like any other occupation. It is useful however to know a bit about the types of scam and how to deal with them.
Basically, you need to avoid anyone who seems like they may be likely to hustle you.
A classic scam to look out for and has many variants is when someone knocks on your door and says they have an awning they bought for a customer who subsequently canceled the work. Because of this they are prepared to give you discount if you will agree to have the awning installed. What do you do? Well, the story might just be true so ask to see the original invoice and ask if you can speak to the customer who canceled. If the guy is telling the truth then neither of these requests should be a problem. If he tries to talk his way out of it then maybe the awning has been stolen.
The best way to avoid scams is to do your best to choose an honest contractor. Ask neighbors and family for names of contractors they trust. Ask your local construction supplies store for names. Reputable contractors will usually be known there and probably have a trade credit account with the store as well.
Only choose a contractor who has a few years trading and has a history of satisfied customers.
Look at the contractor’s vehicle. Is it suitable for his work and is it in good condition. A poorly maintained and dirty vehicle might give you an idea of the standard and cleanliness of their work.
If the contractor is going to install awnings on all the windows and doors then it might be a long expensive job. In this case, it is acceptable for the contractor to ask for a deposit to show the customer’s commitment to the work. Don’t part with any more than 10% of the total job cost and only pay installments when a certain amount of work has been done. Withhold about 40% of the cost until the end of the job when all awnings have been fitted and all problems have been solved. If the contractor insists on any other arrangement ask yourself whether they are likely to disappear with the money and leave the job unfinished.
Don’t even think about using contractors who ignore basic safety rules and doesn’t wear suitable safety equipment. This shows that the attitude toward work is shoddy.
Look at the condition of the contractor’s tools. If they are not looked after properly then it is likely that they are not a properly bonded tradesman. Messy tools often mean a messy job.
Do not use anyone who uses coarse language or appears intimidating. You and your family have a right to be at home without feeling unsafe.
Ask the company if they regularly drug test their employees and if they check for criminal records.
No matter whether you or the contractor is installing the awning, there are a few basic safety rules with which you must comply.
✓ Never use mains driven power tools when you or the tool are in contact with water.
✓ When drilling into a wall, be aware that there may be pipes or electrical cables hidden within.
✓ Use a dust mask over your nose and mouth when drilling into masonry. Power drills make a lot of fine dust.
✓ Be careful when using trailing electrical extension cables. They are easy to trip over.
✓ When using a ladder either against the wall or against the scaffold, make sure the ground is level and the ladder is fixed at top and toe.
We briefly mentioned earlier about licenses and permits. Before we finish it would be a god idea to talk a bit more about these essential items.
A reputable contractor will be expected to have the following that is valid for the duration of your project:
Training and qualifications. Whoever is to install your awning must be suitably experienced and have served a nationally recognized training programme. Additionally, find out if either the contractor or the company are members of trade associations.
Certification. Some states require that certain contractors be certified while other states have no such requirement. Ask at the office that issues building permits or look on your state’s government website for more details.
License. Specialty contractors such as electricians and carpenters will need to have a license issued by the local government. You must make sure that the contractor who is installing your awnings is appropriately licensed.
Insurance. A legitimate contractor will have insurance cover for the following. Make sure the amount of compensation is enough to cover all claims:
We think we have said enough to convince you that having awnings installed would be a good idea. The type you choose will depend on your preferences, your budget and any limitations imposed on them by local rules and regulations. We have seen that the installation is a job well within the capabilities of an average DIY practitioner but if you want to hire a contractor or a specialist company then that is ok as well. Whoever you choose to do the work, there are certain common sense safety rules that it is wise to obey and you must expect the contractor to follow these even if you in your DIY do not.
Lastly, let us hope that you choose a suitable awning that will last a long time and serve your purposes by giving protection from the elements for you and your furniture.
We hope you have learned something new in this article and I thank you for reading.