If you’re like most homeowners in Virginia, you probably dream of having a beautiful deck to relax on in the spring and summer months. A well-constructed deck can be a great addition to any home, but it’s important to find the right contractor to build it for you.
Not all contractors are created equal. When looking for the right deck contractor in Virginia, it’s important to do your homework and carefully evaluate the skills and track record they bring to your project. There are a number of common ways to seek out the best Virginia deck builders and key traits to look for in the kind of qualified professionals you need to either build or remodel. Here, we’ll talk about the fundamentals of finding the best in Virginia deck contractors.
Where to Start Your Search
There are a few things you should keep in mind when searching for a deck contractor. First, you want to find a contractor who is experienced and has a good reputation. The best ways to find a deck builder are generally through online research or referrals from a friend. Each option comes with its own pros and cons. Once you’ve found a few potential contractors, be sure to ask them for references. This will give you a chance to see some of their previous work and get an idea of their quality.
One of the best tools for finding a good contractor is a referral from someone with direct experience working with them whose word and perspective you can trust. Having a report on the builder that’s this direct can be a godsend, but it does come with certain caveats.
When assessing a friend’s referral, you should think about how much experience with the deck builders in question it’s really based on and how many projects or renovations they’ve done with them. On a related note, you should also consider how much of a basis for comparison your friend has with this kind of contracting work. A homeowner who’s not experienced with deck construction might be more easily impressed than someone who’s worked with a range of contractors.
You should think about whether the projects that led to your friend’s referral are actually similar to the one you’ll be undertaking. And finally, you should think about whether it would be a benefit to have a range of contractor prices to choose from to get a better idea of whether your friend was charged a fair rate. For all these reasons, referrals are a great beginning to your search but shouldn’t be the end.
Online articles and reviews are an increasingly common tool for homeowners trying to find professional deck builders or other contractors. Sites like Decks.com or ANGI (formerly Angie’s List) provide a searchable database of contractors that displays satisfaction ratings from past customers. Contractors can also attract customer reviews to social media outlets on platforms like Facebook and will often have their own websites dedicated to showcasing their services and past projects they’ve worked on.
The things to keep in mind with online sources are:
- Partiality — Most online sources are speaking with an agenda; that can even be true of customer reviewers who might “review-bomb” companies for reasons apparently inscrutable to the rest of the public.
- Manipulation — Online reviews can also be manipulated in other ways, for example by the use of “sockpuppet” accounts to generate artificial positive reviews. A sign of this can be a lot of 5-star reviews appearing from “customers” with suspiciously similar voices and writing styles.
- Selectivity — Online directories of contractors often are not comprehensive, so relying on them entirely to help you find information on the best local contractors can lead to missing out on potentially important candidates.
The best kinds of online customer feedback are video testimonials, but still — even with the caveats noted above — other customer reviews and online sources, and pictorial documentation of the deck builders’ work, can be excellent cues for finding the best professional for you.
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 going through the process of having early conversations with deck 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 are often a giveaway of a contractor that lacks the expertise to even cost out the job they’re being asked to do, let alone finish it. High-end quotes often reflect a high degree of 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 go out of their way to provide financing options to help make your project more affordable without unrealistically lowballing the quote.
Faster Isn’t Necessarily Better
A good contractor will typically have a busy schedule. They’ll do their best to get back to you about consultations and quotes in a timely fashion, but it’s not necessarily a good sign if they pick up their cell phone any time of day. That’s actually a hint that they’re not necessarily hands-on at the job site, which most of the best deck contractors are.
Likewise, a good contractor will try to be available as soon as they can to carry out the work you need, but if they’re dedicated to quality and to client satisfaction, they won’t bump existing clients in a rush to get your business. The upside of that is that they also won’t bump your project down the priority queue when the next new customer calls. That’s a core sign of professionalism.
A bad contractor, by contrast, is always available right away. Generally, that’s either because they’re simply 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 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 and patio design 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 that have come from all this growth make a deck-specific builder a necessity, and any qualified candidate should cover certain bases.
A contractor should satisfy all the legal and regulatory requirements to carry out construction and renovation services in Virginia. That includes:
- Any necessary licensing and bonding in your jurisdiction
- General liability and worker’s compensation insurance (to keep your home insurance from having to pay out claims in the event of a mishap)
- Knowledge of, and expertise in acquiring, all necessary permits to carry out your project in compliance with local regulations
A reputable contractor should have a solid rating with the local Better Business Bureau. Contacting the Better Business Bureau also gives you access to complaints customers have filed 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 contractor 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. If friend referrals or online reviews brought you to them, 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:
- Custom deck design
- Outdoor lighting
- Firepit inserts
- Deck roof installation
- Deck resurfacing
- Outdoor kitchens and screen porches
- Retaining walls
Working with a 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.
The Top-Tier Virginia Deck Builders at PWHI
Since 1986, Prince William Home Improvement has been building custom decks, offering remodeling services and patio services and helping homeowners in Maryland and northern Virginia build the perfect porch or realize the ideal vision for their hardwood decks. We’re a locally owned general contractor with a specialty in decks, patios and porches, known to over 16,000 satisfied customers as a great company that pays attention to the little details and always works to deliver a finished product of the highest quality.
The construction services of PWHI are available in Fairfax, VA, and numerous surrounding communities, including Virginia Beach, Falls Church, and Silver Spring. We provide a structured four-phase process that starts with a 60-90 minute free consultation, planning and installation phases and finally, a quality assurance and satisfaction phase that reviews the project and verifies it meets your expectations and our standards for high-quality work.
The entire process takes several weeks, and you can rest assured that at the end of it, you’ll have a custom deck, patio or porch project that will make your outdoor space into an outdoor oasis. Our mission at PWHI is always to guarantee client satisfaction with competitive pricing and wonderful work.
Contact Us Today
If you’re looking to add more space to your home, benefit from custom deck design, build a new deck or renovate an existing deck, the experts at PWHI are here to help you realize the outdoor space of your dreams at a fair price.
We provide flexible financing, a military discount and a consistent and transparent pricing plan with no surprises or hidden costs. Above all, we guarantee that working with us as your deck contractors will lead to the satisfaction of seeing a great job carried out in the most timely fashion possible and at a price that won’t break the bank.
That commitment is what makes PWHI among the top deck builders in the state of Virginia. Contact PWHI online today to get your free estimate, or give us a call at 703-492-1294. We’re always happy to answer your questions and work with you to find the best possible solution for your home.