Update: Many people believe that rain gutters are an essential part of any house – but in reality, this isn’t the case. Rain gutters are used to collect and divert water away from the house, protecting the siding and the house’s foundations. But if you have a roof with a big enough overhang, or a house surrounded by a concrete patio or sidewalk, rain water will be carried away without the need for a rain gutter at all. You’ll have to check building codes in your area as some places make it mandatory to install rain gutters, but with a bit of careful planning and foresight you may be able to dispense with them altogether.

You can save money when building your home by not installing a rain gutter on the roof. In fact, in many parts of the country, rain gutters are never installed. Before you make the decision, however, you will need to check the building codes in your area. Some regions have building codes that require the installation of rain gutters.

So what is the purpose of rain gutters?

Rain gutters collect water from the roof and channel it to downspouts that allow the water to come out onto the ground or into a drain pipe that carries it away from the house. In regions with significant rainfall, gutters become more important if the landscaping around the house does not effectively move the water away from the foundation of the house. Rain gutters are also a matter of convenience. The installation of rain gutters prevents waterfalls from the roof in inconvenient places, such as over doorways. They can also prevent splashing and splattering of the house and the windows.

If a house is surrounded by a concrete patio, sidewalks, or a driveway that slopes away from the house, you probably don’t need to install a rain gutter. If the overhang of the roof is sufficient to deposit run-off rain water safely beyond the foundation, you probably can get by without rain gutters.

The factor that you must consider in deciding whether or not to install rain gutters is how you will protect the foundation of the house. Significant rainfall that is not channeled away from the foundation can result in significant ground erosion, which in turn can cause cracks or other damage to the foundation. Foundation damage can result in internal cracks, leaks, broken pipes and the like. It can also cause external cracks in brick or stone work. Severe foundation damage can require costly repairs. The uneven settling of the house or damage to part of the foundation can compromise the plumbing and electrical systems, as well.

So what can you do to protect your foundation and save the cost of rain gutters?

First, you can extend the overhang of the roof just a few inches farther and simply allow the water to fall onto a sidewalk or driveway or patio. You will need to plan this aspect of your landscaping so there is a sloped concrete surface for the water to fall on and be carried away from the foundation. Just look at the roof line and the directions in which the water will drain.

A second option would be to extend the overhang of the roof a few feet beyond the walls, far enough to clear the area of the foundation. Then put in the kind of landscaping that will prevent the water from flowing back toward the foundation line. The extended overhang will also provide some additional shade.

Some people value rain gutters for their ability to prevent a waterfall over doorways or to prevent splashing that will soil or damage the siding. This can be addressed by pitching the roof over the doorway so the water will run down an empty off on both sides of the doorway or by extending the overhang to prevent splashing onto the siding.

With some advance planning, careful thought, and creative landscaping, you can build a strong and comfortable house that will stand strong for decades without installing rain gutters.

To work out your home remodeling costs, try out our free remodel calculator and see where you could save money.