So, you’re ready to start building a deck. You’ve decided on the decking material, general design, and even the spindles that match your choice of hardwood decking. One problem…
Whenever you open a tool box it’s like reading Latin. It’s dead to you. So, if hiring a deck builder is a no-brainer, how do you find one that will get the job done right?. After all, you could try your hand at this massive home improvement project, but if you’re uncomfortable around table saws, it’s probably best to hire a professional. But what do you look for in a deck builder? What questions must you ask before hiring a deck builder?
Here are the questions you to ask while interviewing local deck builders (Also available as a .pdf download: Deck Builder Interview Checklist):
- How long have you been a deck contractor? – Knowing how long a builder has been building decks is going to give you a sense for their overall experience. You’ll want to hear how they were trained and if they belong to any national or local associations such as the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA).
- What is your experience with my preferred decking material? Some builders refuse to work with plastic decking, some prefer hardwood decking. Others do both.
- Are you licenses and registered? – Working with a deck builder who is not licensed in your state, no matter how low their price, is not a good idea.
- Are you insured? – For obvious reasons, working with a builder that is NOT insured should be out of the question.
- Can you give me some references? – You’ll want to ask how satisfied they were with the process and the completed deck. Did you have to call them in for any repairs? If so, what? Would they use this deck builder again?
- Do you have a warranty policy? – If they say “Yes.” Be sure to get a written copy. Usually a deck builder warranty will cover any structural damage related to the actual construction of the deck. They won’t cover anything regarding the wood itself, or other decking components. You’ll have to acquire warranty information from the manufacturer.
- Will you handle the permit process? – Nearly every deck building project will require a permit. If you don’t acquire one, or fail to see if one is required, when you try to sell your home, you might run into problems, or worse have to pay a fine. If your deck builder says they’ll acquire the permit for you, hold them to it, and get a copy for your records.
- How long do you think it will take to complete my deck? – While no deck builder knows the weather, you want to get a general sense as to how long you’ll have people in your backyard. Having a general sense of the time line will also allow you to plan your life around the labor schedule.
- Do you have a portfolio for me to review? – If the prospective builder does not have one, can’t offer any references, yet they have years of experience, it would be safe to assume that their work is not something worth looking at. Having experience doesn’t equal quality.
Clearly, when conducting an interview with a deck builder, it’s important that you feel comfortable with the person, too. You’ll want to have a good rapport with the person PLUS know that they have the experience, training, and high-quality results that you’re looking for. Don’t forget to check with your local better business bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the builder.
Download and print this Deck Builder Interview Checklist before you meet with prospective deck builders in your area.
Good luck! And enjoy your new deck!