Hiring a Deck Builder

Get tips on hiring a deck builder, from researching local contractors to pre-planning for your deck project.

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If you're planning to add a deck to your home, it may be time to investigate hiring a deck builder. Building a deck on your own is definitely doable, but even the experts consider it a difficult project. So unless you've been to the deck construction rodeo once or twice already, it may be time to call in the pros.

There are several things you'll want to have prepared prior to making a call to your local decking contractor. Firstly, you should know at least the rough dimensions of the deck. This will give the contractor an idea of the project's scope, both in terms of costs and materials.

Secondly, decide whether your deck will have one or multiple tiers or levels. If there will be multiple levels, will they be connected by stairways or passageways? Will the deck be adjacent to any other landscaping or hardscaping, or a pool or garden?

You'll need to provide your deck builder with specific information on the material and finish you want for your deck surface. You'll have many choices, from traditional pressure-treated wood to exotic, tropical species of wood, or even composite or plastic decking.

Lastly, decide on a feature set for your deck. Will it sport a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, a barbecue or dining area?

Finally, it's time to find your contractor. Start within your network—nothing means more than a personal endorsement of work from a friend or family member. Seek out former clients for reference, and ask about the timeliness, quality and price of the contractor's former projects. Once you've found a contractor you're interested in using, establish what their work schedule would be, how payments would be handled, and who would be in charge of permits, coordinating with local utility companies, and other logistical factors. Some things to watch out for when hiring contractors are requirements of large advances or cash only payments, lack of proof of insurance, or that you're required to obtain any necessary permits.

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