Things to Consider When Choosing a Deck Builder
First and foremost know your budget and don’t be afraid of sharing it with the deck builder. This can feel a little overwhelming at first because you might not know what the market value is in your area. However, having an idea of what you want to spend on your deck will not only help you get the most for your money it will also help the deck designer know what size and materials to suggest. There is a deck for nearly every budget and by sharing your budget you’re giving the deck builder boundaries so when you receive your estimate it will be affordable. This will also help you get the most deck for your money, and help save time developing your floor plan and material selections.
Collect pictures of projects you like. Like the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. A simple Google search or a search on Houzz.com will provide an endless amount of design ideas. If you present them to your deck builder they will have a clear scope of work and will have a good idea if your budget supports the design.
Go look at past work and visit with past clients. This is the only way to know how good a deck builder really is. Any reputable Kansas City deck builder should be able to send you to as many projects as you wish to see.
Is cheaper better? As with most things in life you get what you pay for and in the deck industry this saying cannot be more true. The deck contractor that comes in higher priced often times offers a better product. The extra cost is usually due to employing better quality employees that demand higher compensation.
Ask the deck contractor if the majority of their work is for builders or private home owners. There is a (VERY) big difference in quality when comparing a builder grade deck crew VS a design build deck company like Creative Concepts & Design. We receive countless calls to replace builder grade decks within the first five years of the homes construction.
Ask your builder if he is affiliated with an architect and engineer. A reputable custom deck builder should have resources to offer if needed.
Look at flooring and handrail samples and ask lots of questions. If the deck builder doesn’t show up with samples and draw up a scope of work during his consultation you don’t know what you are getting. This should be an instant red flag. Often times people get taken advantage of by unethical contractors because they don’t know what they are getting. At first sight the estimate looks like the best deal, only to find out after its too late that the cheapest material and labor was used. A quality deck builder will arrive with a large amount of samples and have plenty of knowledge of the products. They should draw a sketch on site, go over all material options, answer all questions, and have a showroom so you can put your hands on everything.
Any deck builder that gives price quotes on site is guessing and you should ward caution. Sure that number he spouts out off the top of his head might sound great but what he isn’t telling you is if his guess is wrong you will be the one covering the extra unexpected cost. Lumber is a commodity and the price fluctuates constantly. The only way to be 100% certain a price estimate is accurate is if the deck builder knows his material and labor cost. Unless you like surprises go with a deck builder that takes his time and works up a professional proposal.
Ask to see proof of insurance. Don’t assume your deck builder has insurance. This is one of the easiest ways to tell if a company is legitimate. Sure, that handy group of guys your buddy knows is cheaper than a custom deck company but those cost quickly offset the moment a problem should arise.
Have a good idea of how long you are planning to live in your house. This should play a big role in the materials you choose and the ROI of your deck. Often times your cheapest estimate will consist of builder grade materials. That is fine as long as your planning on moving within 5 years. If you plan on staying 10,15,20 years your material selections should be more selective and present the best performance and ROI over the coarse of that time.