Whether you’re refinishing your outdoor deck, resurfacing it, or building a brand new structure, you’ll probably be hiring a contractor to do the work for you. You might go the DIY route if you’re experienced, ambitious, or just have a lot of time on your hands—but in most cases, you’ll need professional help. In fact, many states and municipalities have strict building codes that prohibit the average homeowner from building an outdoor deck without proper training.
So the question for most homeowners is not if they should hire an outdoor deck specialist, but how to find the best possible contractor for the job. We conducted our own research and complied some tips to help you find the best contractor for your outdoor deck project. Here’s what we found:
Ask friends, family, and acquaintances
Yes, this is still one of the best ways to find a good contractor. You get the real story from past clients, and in many cases you can see the workmanship with your own eyes. If you know someone who has recently had work done on their deck, be sure to ask them who they hired and how they would rate the overall experience.
Check out the contractor’s website
Many contractors have their own sites which detail their qualifications, display pictures of their past work, and give customer testimonials. They will often choose the best reviews to put up, but web sites are still full of valuable information. They’re also a great indicator of the overall level of professionalism you can expect from a deck specialist. If the web site is shabby and disorganized, other aspects of the business may be as well.
Focus on deck specialists instead of general contractors
A general contractor with an excellent reputation is certainly an option for your outdoor deck project, but many homeowners find it useful to focus on specialists who know decks forward and backward. Deck specialists will be familiar with the newest materials, technologies, and building code requirements. They might also give you ideas and advise you hadn’t considered before you decide which way to go.
Consult with multiple contractors
Most people find it’s a good idea to shop around. Reach out to at least three contractors before selecting one, and ask them all the same questions: How much experience they have, whether they’re licensed and insured, whether they have a list of references, and any other questions specific to your project. It’s also a good idea to ask how busy they are right now, as this could affect the level of service they can offer. Try to have preliminary materials and estimates figured out before you talk to contractors, so that you’re able to compare those numbers with your own.
Don’t just be satisfied with the fact that an outdoor deck specialist has handed over names and numbers—follow up on these references! What their past clients say should have a lot of bearing on your decision. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not they stayed on budget, were dependable and efficient, and maintained a professional standard of service across all aspects of the project. Most importantly, they can tell you whether they’re happy with their deck and the condition it’s in now.
Make sure you get along well
You’ll be working with your deck specialist closely—not to mention giving them a lot of money. Having a good rapport is important. If a contractor or staff person rubs you the wrong way, it’s often a sign that you’ll have other problems. Adding or resurfacing an outdoor deck can be stressful enough without unnecessary negativity.
The right contractor is out there
If you put in the legwork, you’ll be able to find the best contractor for your outdoor deck. It may seem like a lot of effort at first, but it will quickly pay off once the project gets underway and everything runs smoothly. Remember—the foremost regret of homeowners who pay for outdoor deck work is that they didn’t research all of the options available to them, and ended up contracting with someone who didn’t meet the highest professional standards.
Thanks for stopping by, and good luck finding the right deck specialist for you!