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8 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Deck Builder

My Home Handyman Deck

Written by My Home Handyman

April 29, 2022

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Building a deck is a lot of hard work. Despite how many DIY stories there are of people building a deck, there are just as many stories that are not successful. There is nothing wrong with turning to professionals who do this for a living.

There are specific questions that you should be asking your prospective contractor. Asking about their history, staff, specialties, warranties, insurance, licensing, and more should all be on the shortlist of questions being asked. This will ensure that the contractor you hire is best suited for the job.

8 Questions to Ask a Deck Builder

There are certainly more than 8 questions to ask a deck builder before you get a quote. That said, there are a few questions that stand above the rest when it comes to determining which contractor is the right one for the job.

1. What is the warranty?

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of hiring a professional to do the job is the warranty that comes attached. Any builder worth their salt will stand behind the quality of their work, which means offering a warranty.

Understand before making a decision what that warranty looks like. While no one wishes to have to use that warranty, it can certainly be a lifesaver if it does become necessary. Be clear as to the length and coverage that the warranty offers so that you can have some measure of protection should something go wrong.

2. Are you Insured and Licensed?

Consider this 1B in terms of the most important questions to ask. Any quality contractor should be able to produce a business license, an insurance certificate, and any other relevant credentials. To put it simply, if a contractor is neither licensed nor insured, you should move on immediately.

There are far too many amateur “professionals” out there. If you are met with anything other than compliance on this matter, consider it a major red flag. Make sure that you have protection should the job go south. Otherwise, you could be in for a nightmare situation.

3. How Long Have You Been in Business?

Experience matters. While you could go the cheapest route possible and find someone on Facebook or some other amateur, the work will be amateur. These contractors make good money because they are good at what they do and are proven.

Asking how long a contractor has been doing deck work can indicate how trustworthy they are. If they aren’t honest about experience or tend to evade the question, it is a red flag that cannot be ignored. Established, professional businesses are also far less likely to have any outstanding legal issues that you should avoid.

4. What Happens if Something goes Wrong?

It is essential to know that things will go wrong from time to time. Even the most qualified professionals have issues once in a while. The question isn’t so much, “what if,” but “what happens when?”

What makes for a great contractor is how they handle awry situations. They should be able to call up specific examples of things that went wrong and what they did to make the situation right for their customer. That is how you separate the great contractors from the rest of the field.

5. Do You Handle Permits?

Almost no matter where you live, permits will be required to add a deck to your property. Unfortunately, many DIYers do not know this and do the work only to pull it down because they are in violation.

The homeowner should usually manage the license, but it can be comforting to know that the contractor can handle it if you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Working with a professional means that they should be handling any permits. The best contractors out there handle the filing of those permits and take the time to show you how to obtain one.

6. What References Do You Have?

Reading online reviews is a great place to start when choosing a contractor. Finding a third-party site gives you some measure of confidence that the reviews you are reading are on the up and up and not manufactured.

If you can speak with someone who has used the contractor in question, do so. There is nothing like being able to talk to someone in person about their experience using those contractor services. It is also more likely that you will get a candid response, which gives you the most precise idea of what working with them will be like.

7. How Long Will This Take?

With everything lined up, the million-dollar question becomes, “how long will this take?” While you want a deck to be built, it shouldn’t take ages to complete. The less time, the better so that you can get back to life uninterrupted and with a new deck to use.

Ask your potential contractor what their timeline is for work from start to finish. Timing can be important for getting the project done, or a long wait can drive you to look into other contractors instead. Depending on the time of year, there may be a wait to get started, so ask about that.

8. What Deposit is Required?

For the most part, professional deck builders will indeed require a deposit. This is for two reasons: to cover the costs of materials to get started and to offer some measure of peace of mind for both parties.

The deposit amount can vary from contractor to contractor, so ask it upfront. The standard range can vary heavily, swinging between 10% and 30%. If a contractor asks for more than 30% as the deposit, it could be a red flag. Look elsewhere for a contractor that checks all the boxes and asks for a standard deposit amount.

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