Tips to Find the Right Decking Contractor in Maryland or Virginia

Posted in: Decks in Maryland, Decks in Virginia, Deck Contratcors

James Moylan

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beautiful Deck in Maryland

7 Tips for Finding the Right Licensed and Insured Decking Contractor in Maryland or Virginia

Ready to add a screen porch, deck, or patio to your backyard? Or maybe you just want to do some general remodeling of an outdoor living area?

Finding the right contractor isn’t easy, especially if you haven’t undertaken a similar project in the past. That’s why we put together these top 7 tips to help you find the right licensed and insured deck contractor in Maryland or Virginia.

  1. Always check references.

    Many homeowners make the mistake of getting those contacts and phone numbers but never follow through to actually give them a ring. It takes just a few moments of your time, but it can save you from hiring the wrong person for the job.

When considering references (or referrals from friends and family), make sure the project that was completed for that individual is similar to the one you’ll undertake. You want to verify that the contractor has experience specific to what you want done. If your project is much more complex or requires additional skills, you may not have the same experience.


  1. Don’t jump to pick the lowest bid.

    Sometimes a lower price, especially if it’s a lot lower than other bids, is a sign that the contractor is using inferior materials, isn’t including necessary services, or otherwise cutting corners. Here are a few ways that they may be making their bid lower – at your expense.

    • Not adding the cost of yard repairs, trash removal, and site cleanup.

    • Not including the fees associated with a permit (or getting a permit at all).

    • Only including the cost of labor. They’ll require you to buy the materials.

    • Using cheaper brands and materials

    • Stapling a screen instead of using more advanced (and more durable and maintenance-free) screen systems

    • Not adding electrical items, installing gutters, or finishing the ceiling of a screen porch

    • Using a wooden door (which can warp) or a vinyl door (which can break) on a screen porch

    • Using an inferior brick paver product for a patio

    • Skimping on the base of the patio. Your contractor should use 6 to 8” of CR6, but some people use only 4” – or worse: no base at all, just sand.

    • Using 1” thick flagstone pieces on steps or ledges. These will crack or break in time. Instead your contactor should use what’s called a thermal cap, which is 2” thick.

  2. View their completed project – in person.

    A good contractor will have a portfolio for you to review, so you can see the breadth of their experience. But it pays to take the extra step and ask to see one of their projects firsthand.

    You can access the quality and craftsmanship that may not be apparent from photos. Also, in some cases, you can talk to the homeowner about their experience, another opportunity to get a good reference.

  3. See the materials you’ll be using in person.

    Once you’ve started to make selections, don’t rely on photos. You may not be able to see a completed version of your project, but you will likely be able to see many of your choices at a showroom or home building supply store nearby. Many contractors have designers that will work with you throughout this process, helping you make the right decision for your home and needs.

  4. Know what you want.

    If you have an idea in mind, it’ll be easier to find someone who matches your needs. You don’t need to know the specifics, but understand how you plan to use the space and communicate that to the contractor. He or she should able to advise you on the best solution for what you want, taking into account your budget.

  5. Read the contractor.

    Don’t sign until you’ve actually taken the time to look it over. Pay particular attention to areas related to problem resolution, project delays, and change orders. Also, this is an opportunity to verify that they have the appropriate license, since it should be included in the document as well. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask, and if your contractor isn’t understanding and willing to talk about any concerns you have, find someone else.

  6. Find someone you trust.

    The process – from start to finish – goes smoother when you do. You’ll get a better result if you are open and willing to listen to their suggestions, be upfront about your budget, and allow them the access they may require for your home. If you’ve done a thorough job with the hiring process, you’ll feel comfortable letting the contractor take the reins more.