10 Important Things to Know Before Hiring a Decking Contractor

Posted in: Screen Porch in Northern Virginia, Decks in Maryland, Decks in Virginia, Deck Building Questions, Deck Tips, Screen Porch in Maryland, Deck Contractors License, Deck Contractors Insured, Bathroom Remodel Tips

James Moylan

Monday, November 10, 2014


Great Tips For Hiring a Decking Contractor or Screen Porch Contractor

You’ve wanted a deck forever, but for some reason or another your plans to build one never had the opportunity to materialize. Now that you’ve got the savings squared away, you’re ready to dive in and get moving on the project so you can start enjoying your new deck.

Not so fast. It’s understandable if you’re a little antsy to have the deck finished, but for a big project like this, the most important thing is to ensure the job is done right. That means finding a decking contractor with a proven track record who you can trust.

But how exactly do you know if a particular contractor is right for you and licensed to protect your investment? Below you’ll find nine important things to know before signing a contract with someone.


1. Check your contact's response time

You want to pay attention both to the time it takes for a contractor to get back to you after your initial contact and when you ask them specific questions. The last thing you want is to have something important to tell them in the middle of job and know that you’re not going to be able to get in touch with them for days.

Good contractors always try to return calls and messages before the end of the working day or at least the following business day, and many will get back to you within a few hours.


2. What are the decking contractors payment terms?

It is common for clients to pay contractors a percentage up front, but how much do they want? Some states have specific rules in place that prevent contractors from asked for more than a certain percentage. If your contractor is asking for more up front, this is a red flag.


3.Who is the main point of contact?

Some companies use a salesman to answer customers’ questions and concerns and keep them in the loop. Others put clients in contact with the designer or project manager to coordinate everything. And a few just introduce you to everyone and expect that you’ll be dealing with all three depending on what you want to know.

What you should ask is who’s going to be on the job site every day. That’s the person that you want to be your main point of contact. Before signing with the company, you should see if you can meet with this individual to ensure you can work together well.


4. How do you meet with them?

Are they going to come out to your house? Do you need to drive to their offices? Can you chat with someone over the phone or online? Some companies only offer one of these options, while others have all three, depending on your preference.


5. Can you work together?

Some contractors believe that since they are the professionals, your job is to listen to them rather than the other way around. They may dismiss your ideas outright, or possibly even start telling you what they’re going to do without even asking what you want. This is not a good working relationship.

The best contractors listen carefully to what you’re thinking and try to find solutions that give you what you want to the best of their abilities. If something flat out isn’t possible, they’ll be honest about it, but instead of pushing for what they want, they’ll attempt to offer suggestions as close to your original request as possible.


6. Do they include any follow-up services?

Some companies offer extra follow-up services once the job is done to help you deal with specific problems that may come up. This can be in the form of a warranty policy or some other extended service offer.


7. Can they commit to an end date?

Before choosing a contractor, you need to ask them how long it will take and whether they can give you a specific end date. This shouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker because it can be difficult to commit to an exact date where construction work is concerned, but they should at least be able to offer a range that they can stick to. If a specific date is truly important to you, seek out a company that offers a time guarantee.


8. How does the company do updates?

Is the company going to talk to you every day about how things are going, or every week? Will they call or email? If you want the updates to occur more frequently (or less), can they alter their process to accommodate you?

If you’re someone who likes to know everything but wants to be in control, look for a company using software that connects you to the process and allows you to see everything and communicate on your own terms.


9. Will the decking contractor get required permits?

Your decking contractor should always get the required permits when building your deck. All deck projects must be reviewed by your local jurisdiction to ensure they comply with the current International Residential Code (IRC) through a permit. 

The goal of a permit is to ensure that all construction is safe, built correctly, and up to the current building standards.

10. Is your contractor licensed and insured?

This one probably seems pretty simple and straightforward because a contractor’s business license is public record and they should be able to provide you with a certificate of insurance. But this doesn’t tell you everything.

Is their insurance per project or does it cover every job they do? A million dollar policy sounds like a lot, but may not help you if they are doing multiple jobs at the same time. If a mistake happens elsewhere first, that money could be used up there and you’re left unprotected.

Free eBook - Homeowner's Guide to Best Decking Material in Maryland and Virginia