Installing or replacing a deck is a major home improvement project that can greatly enhance your outdoor living space. However, it’s not a simple task, and finding the right deck contractor is absolutely essential to ensure your project goes smoothly from start to finish. With the vast number of deck builders to choose from these days, it can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming to research and vet potential contractors thoroughly. So, this article provides 10 in-depth tips to simplify your search process so you can feel confident you’ve found the perfect deck pro for your unique needs and budget.
1. Get Referrals
One of the most valuable ways to find a qualified, reputable deck builder is through word-of-mouth referrals. Start by asking trusted friends, family members, and neighbors if they can recommend someone who has constructed a deck for them in the past. Ask detailed questions about their overall experience, including how the contractor handled the planning process, communication, budget, timelines, workmanship, and cleanup.
Also, check popular home services sites, where you can read through ratings and detailed reviews from past clients. A deck contractor who comes highly recommended by multiple satisfied customers is a very good sign they do high-quality work.
2. Find Out Detailed Bids
A contractor who gives you a ballpark quote without even seeing your project site and discussing your vision in detail should raise suspicions. A true professional will always want to thoroughly inspect your yard, ask questions about how you plan to use the space, and look at any existing structural issues before providing a comprehensive, written bid. When researching options, consider exploring deck installation services online, as these specialized platforms can provide a wealth of information on pricing, materials, and design concepts. It’s wise to get detailed bids from at least 3 reputable deck builders so you can carefully compare. Don’t assume the lowest bid is the best value, as it may reflect lower-quality materials and shortcuts.
3. Verify Licensing and Insurance
It’s absolutely essential to make sure any deck contractor you consider hiring is properly licensed, bonded, and insured for full protection. Ask to personally see their current license and insurance certificates, and take the time to verify they are valid and in good standing.
An unlicensed contractor is a huge red flag, while one who balks at showing proof of licensing likely has something to hide. Proper licensing and insurance protect you from liability in the event of injuries, damages, defects, or other issues. This should be a strict requirement.
4. Check Industry Experience
Be sure to choose a deck construction company that has been in business for at least 5 years and has extensive experience building and remodeling decks of all sizes and materials. They should be able to provide a portfolio with photos of past deck projects to give you an idea of their workmanship.
An experienced deck pro will be familiar with local zoning regulations, permitting requirements, and building codes. They’ll also have valuable insight into the best materials and structural procedures for your specific climate and project.
5. Ask About Maintenance Needs
A high-quality deck contractor won’t just build your deck and disappear. They will take time to educate you on how to properly care for and maintain your deck over the long term. Sealing, staining, and repairing boards are important parts of deck maintenance.
The required upkeep will depend on factors like the type of wood used and your climate conditions. Make sure you fully understand what will be needed to maximize the lifespan of your investment.
6. Evaluate Their Communication Skills
Pay close attention to how responsive and clear a deck contractor communicates things during the research process. Do they return calls and emails promptly and answer all questions thoroughly? Can they listen to your vision and offer savvy recommendations? Are they upfront about pricing and comfortable explaining contract details? Strong communication skills are essential for a smooth project. An evasive or impatient contractor is not likely to improve once hired. Make sure you and the deck pro communicate well from the very first interaction.
7. Review Contracts Thoroughly
Never sign any construction contract before reading it thoroughly from start to finish. Scrutinize all the fine print and make sure every detail like timeline, materials, permits, site cleanup, warranty, and payment schedule is included.
A quality deck builder will offer a written guarantee on their labor and materials. Watch out for vague language or hidden fees in the contract. If changes are needed, make sure they are made in writing before signing. Having an attorney review the document can provide extra protection.
8. Verify That All Permits Will be Pulled
In most areas, building permits and inspections are legally required for deck construction. Before hiring a contractor, verify that they will pull all necessary permits and arrange for the required inspections. A company that is unwilling to do this is likely unlicensed or does subpar work that won’t pass inspection. Decks built without permits can present major headaches when it comes time to sell your home. Protect yourself by confirming permits will be handled.
9. Ask About Materials and Methods
During the bidding process, find out exactly what materials each contractor uses for the decking boards, railings, stairs, posts, footings, and other elements. Higher-quality woods like cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods will last much longer than cheaper pine or composite boards.
Make sure the contractor follows proper structural procedures for securely installing load-bearing posts, footings below the frost line, ledger boards, joists, and decking. Shoddy construction can lead to major safety hazards down the road.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Even if a deck contractor looks great on paper, if they make you feel uneasy or seem unprofessional, don’t ignore your gut feeling. Working with a builder you’re uncomfortable with will likely lead to stress and communication issues down the road. The right contractor should be responsive to your questions, willing to provide references, and have a portfolio of quality work. Take your time to find a company you genuinely trust.
Choosing the perfect deck contractor for your project takes time and diligent research but is well worth the effort. Following these in-depth tips will simplify your search process so you can feel confident you’ve found the right deck pro for your needs. Vetting contractors thoroughly reduces project risks and ensures you’ll be satisfied with your investment for years to come. With a sturdy, gorgeous new deck built by a true professional, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your outdoor living space.