I have repair work and painting I want to do on the eaves and gutters of my house. In some places they are up to 30 feet off the ground and I would not feel safe being on ladder that high.

One option may be to rent a scissors lift which might cost about $150 per day. The main tricky thing there is that my house has a berm so I would have to find a way to provide a solid level surface for the lift, essentially building a small platform and ramp for the lift everywhere I would need to use it, which could get expensive and time consuming.

Another option would be to rent a cherry picker, but they are more expensive around $250 a day, but that would make the level platform problem go away.

On a side note how do you reposition such lifts? Are they self-propelled? I would need to move them to several different positions around the house.

  • 3
    "I would not feel safe being on ladder that high." You've dismissed this possible answer out of hand, but I expect that if you spent some time learning ladder safety and the proper equipment to use on ladders at those heights you may be able to resolve your concern. Choosing the correct ladder, securing the ladder to the building, and securing yourself to the ladder will resolve most safety concerns when properly done.
    – Adam Davis
    Mar 1, 2016 at 15:58
  • 2
    @AdamDavis: there is also the possibility of forms acrophobia which people often do not want to admit. Even if that is unlikely in the case of the OP, providing alternatives is likely nice for future visitors that would not even dare to ask that question.
    – PlasmaHH
    Mar 1, 2016 at 16:37
  • @AdamDavis: good point, especially if your profession allows you to convert that time saved into money...
    – PlasmaHH
    Mar 1, 2016 at 16:45
  • @AdamDavis This is the Do It Yourself stack exchange. Mar 1, 2016 at 17:25
  • 1
    @TylerDurden Correct! And sometimes the best answer is, "Given the requirements and your skills, don't do it yourself." I don't think that's your case, but in the hypothetical acrophobia case PlasmaHH suggested I don't think doing the work themselves 3 stories up is reasonable. Anyway, sorry to clutter your question with irrelevant comments. Good luck with your project, and stay safe!
    – Adam Davis
    Mar 1, 2016 at 18:03

5 Answers 5


I'd rent a batch of scaffolding (or "staging"), including some extensions to accommodate the berm. You can set up two or three sections and have 20 feet or more to work from at a stretch. It should be relatively inexpensive and you'll be able to keep it for a few days for the same money as a motorized lift.

The drawback is that it's a bit slow and effort-intensive to move, but if you're able-bodied it's not difficult.

  • 4
    If you rent the scaffolding (which is what we are planning to do this year), while it's up paint the house, clean the gutters, maintain the satellite dish - all those things. Then it's not so expensive after all.
    – RedSonja
    Mar 1, 2016 at 14:39
  • 1
    In order to set up scaffolding above a certain height, I believe you need proper certification in some countries. It's unlikely anyone will actually fine you for breaking these regulations, but it may be an issue if you hurt yourself. Of course the same is also true for a lot of other options; scissor lift, etc.
    – eirikdaude
    Mar 2, 2016 at 6:33

I used eye-bolts to anchor my ladder to my wall.

enter image description here
random intertube photo - I just used rope and carabiners etc

If I needed more security I would probably buy ladder-stabilisers or lash a plank to the bottom (less likely for ladder to rotate) and maybe buy a harness to clip myself to the ladder.

enter image description here
random intertube photo

For soft or uneven ground I once made a ladder-shoe from wood and hammered stakes (tent pegs) through it to stop it sliding.

  • 6
    What is the top of that ladder supported with, because that picture is freaking me out. I'd have to see that in person because it looks very wobbly to me.
    – JPhi1618
    Mar 1, 2016 at 18:36
  • 2
    Also, that ladder is about 20 feet high. Imagine a ladder stretching another 10 feet up so it reaches the peak of the house, that is how high I need to go. Jun 30, 2018 at 11:19

I have been in this position before. Tall ladders make me nervous, no matter how closely I follow the ladder safety setup guide. I also have a tall house in the middle of nowhere (rural area) that needs maintenance. Thus if I fall and get hurt it might be awhile before somebody could call 911 for me.

I am a cheapskate, and didn't want to pay money for rental equipment. Plus some of the terrain wouldn't work well with scissor lifts.

My solution was using a universal safety harness and a rope tied to a sturdy tree on the other side of the house. Tie one side of the rope with a weight and toss/sling it over the house. (use some sense, practice first so you don't knock out a window) (also, in my case the house is very tall, and I first had toss a weight to a string to get it over the house, and then used the string to pull the rope over the house)

I looked up on youtube on how to make a solid knot.

I followed the suggested ladder setup and guidance, and technically the harness was not necessary. But it gave me the sensation of additional safety, and as a result I was much less nervous being high up on the ladder.


I have rented this type 34’ towable personnel lift. It is around $200 US per day and it takes a few minutes to set up. I am a big guy 6’5” 265lbs it handled me and my tools on soft dirt and slightly uneven ground. The advantage of this over a scissor lift is you can easily move the basket quite a few feet side to side. Many scissor lifts do have a platform that can be extended forward several feet so you may be able to park behind the berm but they require ground that is much flatter and somewhat solid. They do make them that are taller but I have had much better luck with the basket type on small jobs.
Self Propelled boom lifts are quite a bit more and have a delivery charge as the weigh +10 tons.

  • Unless you've got a pickup truck or a full-sized van, you're going to need to rent something to pull that lift. Most American cars top out at 1500 pounds tow capacity, while minivans and SUVs are typically 3500.
    – Mark
    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:12

Carefully, and the rental options you mentioned I totally agree with... someone to sue. But, the scissor lift would be the only good option if you're going to be scraping, driving screws with a lot of effort or ripping stuff down. The cherry picker will just bob-around & piss you off in 2-minutes, unless you can drop a homemade support or 3.

But, I think getting the heaviest duty extension ladder(s) would be the best long-term investment. With top & bottom tip proofing & bottom leveling attachments & the ability to scaffold with ladder jacks on 2 ladders, they really can't be beat for a 1-time expense.

Otherwise, work from the windows if that'll let you get everything you're after--just stand in the opening if the windows are tip-in & remove. Even a straight ladder out of those to get you up higher works beautifully with the bottom insanely secured & the sides braced inside & out. I used to sit on old real wood windows, that didn't tip in & weren't readily removable, to pole paint & I never cracked or broke a single window pane.

I've also gone hog-wild & outright nuts (according to the pros, until they got on) with L-brackets, shelf-type braces & joist hanger types of products. Building temporary & re-usable window balconies that use the inside wall...nothing screwed-in to the building at all & no damage or just slight indentations (avoidable in hindsight & addressed it for numerous future uses).

  • With a boom lift... If your work requires pushing against the building... If the boom is to your side, you're gonna swing. If the boom is at your back, you won't. Oh, and one more thing: never travel a boom lift unless the boom is all the way in and down. Mar 2, 2016 at 3:44
  • Yeah, the "Boom" lift (big diameter single telescoping arm) is a good option & pretty stable. But now, everyone's absurdly calling these small diameter multi-armed & jointed Cherry Pickers booms too. I call them splats because you can't even barely roller paint a house with them.
    – Iggy
    Mar 2, 2016 at 13:09

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