It’s not every day that you decide to build or renovate a deck, but if you pick the right deck builder, it’s something you won’t have to worry about for decades to come. With years of experience in the industry, we have seen the good and the bad, and we know what it takes to be the best.
Here are a few tips on the steps to take to find a reputable decking contractor:
1. Get Recommendations
If you know someone in your area who has had a deck built or deck renovation in the past five years, the details of their experience may be worth gold.
- Reach out to your network and see what your trusted friends and relatives can tell you – who to check out and who to stay away from.
- If you’re not lucky enough to know someone who has recently been in your position, the internet can help. Review sites such as Homestars and Houzz are specific to home services industries – they attract the largest number of deck builders and have the most information available for you in one place. Be sure to get the whole picture with more general review sites such as Yelp and Google as well. Find out more about making a decision based on online reviews in our previous blog.
- Another way to find top deck contractors is to visit sites of reputable organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. These associations vet their members, holding them to high standards and providing an extra layer of reassurance for consumers.
- If you’re looking for a more personal recommendation, you can even ask your local hardware store to recommend contractors who use quality materials and pay their bills on time.
2. Research Your Potential Deck Builder
Once you have a list of top deck builders based on recommendations and reviews, it’s time to compare them on a few key areas:
- Check out their websites and social media. The professionalism of a company’s online presence indicates that they will carry that level of professionalism into their work. Social media can also give you an idea of what is important to the company, based on what they post and share.
- Once you have an idea of who the company is, pick up the phone and call. Do they answer your call or return your message quickly? If you can’t get in touch now, how hard will it be when there is an issue or a question? How do they speak to you, is this someone who you would be excited about working with?
- Tell them about what you’re looking for. Can they do a project of your size and scope?
- Inquire about business licenses, the need for building permits, insurance, warranty, and availability. Reputable companies should have this information readily available, always offer a warranty, and will likely have a wait in spring and summer, if not year-round. Asking these questions early on can help you weed out the good from the bad and save time in your search.
- Ask for details on past projects and if they can provide references. Well established companies should have happy clients that are willing to speak with potential customers about their own experience.
3. Collect Quotes from Multiple Contractors
When you have evaluated your top deck builder options and narrowed it down to three or four companies, talk numbers.
- Generally, contractors must see your existing deck or the area where you are planning to build a deck to provide an accurate final quote. Make sure they are willing to meet you face to face to get the details they need.
- Ensure that you receive quotes in writing that detail what is included in costs and any areas that have the potential to incur additional cost. Additionally, discuss start time and expected end date.
- When comparing quotes, look at more than numbers: Compare materials, methods, timelines, and payment schedules.
4. Get Signatures
Before finalizing a decision on your deck builder, ensure that all terms are in writing including costs, materials, designs, timelines, payment schedules, and any responsibilities that you have i.e. access considerations and building permits.
- A contract is legally binding and so it’s much better to have seemingly unnecessary detail than to try to decipher vague details if a problem arises. A reputable contractor will understand that this protects both parties.
- Review this written document together and finalize the agreement with your signatures.