Why Your Decking Contractor’s Portfolio Should Be Large, and Other Portfolio Considerations
When choosing a doctor, lawyer, or therapist, you are able to look to their license, education, and certifications as proof of their expertise. Even electricians and plumbers are required to undergo extensive training and experience before they become licensed to work. However, deck building is a unique industry in that there is no governing body that decides who is and who isn’t qualified to work as a decking contractor.
Unfortunately, this puts a lot of responsibility on the homeowner when hiring a contractor for their decking project. When choosing a contractor, it is up to you to determine who is a qualified and capable candidate for the job.
But with no license, training, and education requirements to look for, how can you know whether your contractor is competent? One of the most effective ways is to look at their portfolio of work and visit previous jobs.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most important things to look for in a portfolio when considering a decking contractor.
- Size. It’s very important that your decking contractor’s portfolio is fairly large and able to reveal years of successful past projects. If your contractor is only able to point to a handful of past jobs, your project is likely to be a learning experience for them. However, if you know they are seasoned authorities in the decking world, you can trust they will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate, anticipate and prevent problems, and work efficiently.
- Location of projects. It’s advisable to choose a contractor who has experience working in your area and can provide examples of projects near to you. Not only will this allow you to visit past jobsites and see their work for yourself, but you’ll know that he or she is familiar with the unique environmental challenges and building codes of your region.
- Quality. This one is a no-brainer. If you can, arrange a walk-through on a previous project and examine your contractor’s craftsmanship up close, keeping an eye out for any major red flags. Talk to the owners, and try to get a sense of how happy they were with the contractor, the building process, and the finished project.
- Versatility. In today’s market, there are millions of different decking materials, design styles, and techniques to choose from. You’ll want a contractor who has experience with building and designing many different types of decks, and who is familiar with the vast array of building techniques available today. A versatile contractor can guide you through your many options and help you come up with a plan that best suits your unique needs and tastes.
- Experience with specific mediums. If you are interested in a specialty style, premium material, or building material, you may want to look for evidence of your contractor’s experience in working within your requirements.
Just as you wouldn’t purchase a car without visiting a dealership and taking the car for a test ride, you shouldn’t hire a contractor without visiting his or her past jobs. Pictures can be useful in getting a feel for their design style, but if you want to be able to get a feel for their craftsmanship and the quality of work, it may be necessary to observe their work in person. It is a red flag if a contractor cannot fulfill a single request to view their work in person.
Remember: everything is pretty in a picture, but admiring your contractor’s work in person will provide you with an accurate idea of the quality of work and the care, attention, and expertise they may be able to bring to your decking project.