5-things-to-consider-for-your-deckTrying to decide which contractor to choose to build your custom deck can be a challenge. You want to make sure that your new deck will add value to your home as well as enhance the existing architecture. Many contractors are very disorganized and often “wear all the hats” in their business. They are the bookkeeper, the receptionist and the employee manager. They try to be the craftsperson as well as multi-tasking while on the job. This can mean trying to talk on their cell phones to employees who need direction or maybe other customers are yelling at them for not dealing with a long overdue warranty issue. The list can go on and on.

With a little research and the following five tips, you can find a skilled contractor who takes pride in their work and operates their business with solid business systems to ensure your project runs smoothly and on time.

1. Asking For Money Up-front:

While it is common and perfectly fine for a contractor to ask for a small deposit, many ask for much, much more. Sometimes as much as 50%! This is excessive and should throw up a red flag. In fairness, sometimes a larger deposit may be acceptable if your project is small and the material costs are high. For example, the materials to build custom cabinets are very expensive and will usually require a larger deposit. Ask if your deposit can be held in an escrow account until materials are delivered and the project has started.

2. Ask For Proof:

You will want to request a current copy of the contractor’s general liability insurance as well as workers compensation that lists your name as an insured party. Also, request a copy of their general contractor’s license. Even if your project is small and falls under the “I don’t need a license” category, it is still very wise to pick a contractor with this license. It shows their commitment to the industry and they are usually much more familiar with the local codes. They are also more likely to protect their reputation and do an excellent job for you because they do not want any negative reports filed with the licensing board.

3. Ask The Right Questions:

To ensure the contractor you choose will be dedicated to your job, it is important for you to ask the right questions before you hire them. For example, the number of crews the contractor has doesn’t really matter to you. But you DO need to know which crew will be completing the task at hand. Does the crew consist of employees or are they sub-contractors? How long have they been working together? Are they legal citizens trying to make a difference in your economy? What about the owner – does he stay in an office all day or does he visit his projects often to ensure that all practices are being followed? Does the contractor have documented systems for the type of project you are having done? Getting answers to these questions will help you better understand what to expect after you sign on the dotted line.

4. Project Documents:

You should make sure that your contractor intends on executing a written contract for your project. The contract should explain exactly what your project consists of with an attached “Scope of Work” document. If your project requires construction drawings, they should be referenced by their date and the number of pages included in them. The contract should also include the total price of the project as well as start and completion dates. Another important part of the contract is to identify how all extra work and change orders will be handled.  Surprises are seldom a good thing on a construction site.

5. Quality of Materials:

Don’t be afraid to check out the materials being used for your project. Make sure the material is straight and free from defects. Be sure to look for nail holes and/or damage on the edges. Many times extra lumber is picked up from another job and then sent to yours without first ensuring that the material is in good condition.