The Basics of Vetting a Deck Contractor
You should review at least three potential deck and patio builders for any project you’re considering. There are certain fundamentals when having early conversations with deck building companies that will help you identify the good contractors and screen out the bad apples right from the beginning.
Remember: You Get What You Pay For
When getting quotes from potential deck builders, keep the adage “You get what you pay for” in mind. Extremely low quotes and labor costs are often a giveaway to a contractor that lacks the expertise to even cost out the job and specific materials needed to build a deck, let alone finish it. High-end quotes often reflect high expertise and the use of high-end materials and technology.
Identifying the middle range of the quotes you get will often help you pick out a solid contractor for those who don’t have a lot of budgets to play with. Most of the better contractors on the market will provide financing options to help make your project more affordable without unrealistically lowballing the quote.
Faster Isn’t Necessarily Better
A good deck builder will typically have a busy schedule. They’ll do their best to get back to you about consultations and quotes promptly, but it’s not necessarily a good sign if they pick up their cell phone any time of day. That’s a hint that they’re not necessarily hands-on at the job site, which most of the best deck contractors are.
Likewise, a good deck contractor will be available as soon as they can to carry out the work you need. Still, if they’re dedicated to quality and client satisfaction, they won’t bump existing clients in a rush to get your business. The upside is that they won’t bump your project down the priority queue when the next new customer calls. That’s a core sign of professionalism.
A lousy contractor, by contrast, is always available to build a deck right away. Generally, that’s either because they’re not skilled enough to be in demand or they don’t take the time to see projects to a successful conclusion before chasing new work.
What to Look for in Virginia Deck Builders
Once you’ve got a list of deck contractors to review and a handle on the most basic flags for good and bad companies, it’s time to get into deeper detail on their qualifications and expertise. Deck building have undergone dramatic growth as a field in the last decade, with an upsurge in the outdoor living market and accompanying evolutions in technology. The specialized considerations from all this growth make a deck-specific builder a necessity, and any qualified candidate should cover certain bases such as certifications or general liability insurance.
A deck building company should satisfy all the legal and regulatory requirements to conduct construction and renovation services in Virginia. That includes:
A reputable deck contractor should have a solid rating with the local Better Business Bureau. Contacting the Better Business Bureau also gives you access to customer complaints against a specific company. Checking those records is another useful backstop to catch red flags if there are any to be found.
Experience & References
One way to gauge a contractor’s reliability in delivering a sturdy and well-built deck or carrying out a sophisticated deck restoration or upgrade is whether they have experience and a body of work to back them up.
An experienced deck builder should have a body of work to show you that demonstrates their ability to deliver up to the standards you need in a timely fashion. Suppose friend referrals or online reviews brought you to them. In that case, they should be able to supplement these with references of their own from satisfied past customers who can attest to the process of working with them, the quality and longevity of the resulting decks and whether they felt they got value for money.
While some contractors specialize in a single material or product line, the best deck builder to work with will have a versatile range of offerings. They’ll deal in a variety of building materials and offer services like:
Working with a deck contractor that can call on a wide breadth of options and capabilities gives you the flexibility to try out options and adjust your entire deck project so the final product meets your needs and expresses your vision.