Selecting A Deck Contractor
Are you hiring a Franchise or a hands on contractor?
Does the company owner have extensive experiance building custom decks?
Is the contractor established?
How long has he or she been in business?
Has your contractor quoted an " Apples to Apples" price for your complete project?
Beware the deck contractor who promises to "build it the same way XYZ Builders does, but for a much lower price." Detailed drawings and written construction specifications are the best way to ensure consistency between bids. For the same design, a higher price may reflect different (and superior) materials, workmanship, business practices, and integrity.
Are you Getting a custom built deck?
Many contractors will quote a flat price per square foot for a project without fully reviewing the unique characteristics of your home or building site. For example, if your deck contractor doesn't attend to detail when quoting a price, then what level of detail might you expect once construction does start? Who do you anticipate will absorb the cost of unexpected difficulties when they arise?
Communication is Important.
Are you at ease speaking with your deck contactor about the project? It is crucial that you do not hire anyone you feel hesitant to question. It is equally crucial that your deck builder is comfortable speaking with you. Question and answer sessions should serve to figure out more than just size, shape, and price. Such sessions should also clarify less tangible aspects of your project; including why you're undertaking the project and what impact you want it to have on your lifestyle. These aspects may very well transform what could simply be an addition to your home into what could be a real improvement to your home.
You should have a written contract.
Contracts and design capabilities can fall within a full spectrum of presentations. Prepare yourself for everything from scribbles on a business card, to "trust me" verbal agreements based on a handshake. Although the handshake part is an important start of your relationship with a contractor, do not consider it as a final basis for the details of your project. Always detail your agreement in writing.
Come to a full understanding. Written contracts can range from your signing a simple estimate to more thoroughly documented agreements. Details that can, if overlooked, turn into particular sources of dissatisfaction include:
- Building Specifications. Profesional Contractors provide specifications that detail the types of lumber and materials they will provide in every aspect of their projects. Your deck contractor should do the same. If it is not in writing, it is subject to change without your knowing, or having legal recourse to settle disputes.
- Care of Utilities.A good contractor will locate and avoid interfering with underground utilities such as telephone, gas, cable TV, and natural gas lines.
- Material placement. Often overlooked, is a discussion to agree upon a location for the lumber truck to set the materials. can avoid much damage to your lawn or garden, as well as surprise blockage in your driveway.
- Clean Up. Will you or the contractor remove and dispose of excess lumber, cuttings, dropped hardware, and litter? Clean up costs money, time, and effort.
Is your builder applying for and providing a building permit?
Although not all home improvements require a permit, the homeowner is commonly responsible for getting the permit for projects that do require one. Deck Tech Inc., however, offers to provide this service. Either way, a building permit protects you by ensuring that the work will be completed in compliance with local and state building codes. A project completed without a permit, when required, could lead to insurance or property transfer problems.
Is the contractor respectful?
Does your potential contractor ask you for use of your electrical and bathroom facilities once construction does begin? Beyond attention to detail, this courtesy also gauges the level of respect the contractor has for you and your home.
Do not pay more than 1/2 of the contract value as a deposit, until all materials are delivered.
It is reasonable for a deck contractor to ask for and receive a down payment upon the sale, as well as schedule future progress payments. Most of the remodeling horror stories involve homeowners who paid a large deposit and got little or none of the work performed. Because most projects do not require the much cash until the actual start, a demand for a larger deposit may be an indication that the contractor is going to rip you off.
Do not put your home at risk of water damage.
One important consideration involves how your deck is attached to your home. The wrong method of attachment to the house can result in damage to your home's framing. Improper attachment may also jeopardize the integrity and strength of your deck or project. Local codes will provide minimum standards that you should expect, but always confirm that flashing is detailed in your contract.
Verify that the contractor has general liability insurance.
Without such coverage, you could be held liable for property damage or injuries that occur on your property. Remember, if the contractor is not insured and is hurt on the job, the contractor--or even the government-can sue you.
- A contractor's inability to stay in business is often not a result of poor workmanship.
Their failure as a business (and consequent inability to do warranty repairs, let alone finish your project) is more often a result of poor business practices. Reasonable business people will take no offense when you ask for business references (local lumber yards, code officials, local wholesalers, etc.) and will proudly provide these references to you upon request. Struggling, unprofessional contractors will not.
- Don't ask for a generic list of satisfied customers.
Your list should include owners of recently completed projects, and customers whose projects are similar in style as your own.
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