So you’ve finally decided this is the year you’ll build that outdoor deck. No more putting it off. You’ve researched your options, you know how much you want to spend, and you’ve got your basic designs in place. Now all you have to do is find the right outdoor deck builder to bring it all together. This should be fairly easy, right? All you have to do is breeze through your local listings, find a contractor who builds outdoor decks, request an estimate, and you’ll be ready to move forward. Right?
Not so fast! Choosing a contractor to build your outdoor deck may not be rocket science, but it may not be quite as easy as you’re imagining. The truth is, there are all kinds of contractors out there. There are companies who do a little bit of everything, and there are companies who specialize in outdoor decks and gazebos. There are skilled, reputable, experienced companies. There are companies who cut corners and haven’t been in the business long.
Since you’re about to invest thousands of dollars in a new feature for your home—something that will be visible from the street in many cases, and will potentially affect the market value of your property—you want to be certain you’re making the best possible decision when it comes to hiring a contractor.
So—are you about to hire a disreputable contractor to build your outdoor deck? In order to find out for sure, here are a few questions you should ask.
How many years has your company been around?
When a contractor has been in business for a number of years, they have a longer track record and more jobs completed. This gives you more opportunities to find testimonials and reviews (whether online or word-of-mouth). Experience is also a desirable trait in its own right. If your company is literally just getting off the ground, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll take you for a ride. It is important, however, to confirm that the employees of a new company have years of training and experience to their credit.
Who will actually build my deck?
In order to protect your investment, make sure your contractor is sending only skilled, trained, honest workers to your home. You may even want to ask about criminal background checks, as many homeowners do. Make sure the foreman will be on site regularly to oversee the work and correct any mistakes before they get out of hand.
Do you offer a written guarantee?
If your contractor insists that your outdoor deck is “guaranteed,” yet can’t give a clear answer when you ask about a guarantee in the written contract, proceed with caution. Work is only legally guaranteed if such a guarantee is clearly spelled out in writing, within the contract. Ultimately, a written guarantee is the only kind that matters.
Are your fee structures clear and straightforward?
The last thing you need when building an outdoor deck is a contractor who deliberately tries to confuse people with vague pricing structures. Some companies make a habit of charging more after the fact, claiming that the actual project costs exceeded the initial bid. It’s important to know if the amount you’ve been quoted is really the amount you’ll pay, or whether (and under what circumstances) your costs could go up.
Prevent mistakes while choosing your contractor
Many people don’t think to ask these basic questions before they sign a contract to have their outdoor deck built. But this is a big investment, and most homeowners agree that due diligence is best. By asking a few simple and straightforward questions, and knowing what answers to look for, you can avoid ending up with a disreputable contractor and all the problems that come along with it.
Good luck finding the best possible contractor for your outdoor deck! Feel free to leave comments below.