Hiring a Decking Professional

Get tips for choosing professionals and hiring deck designers for your decking project.


By: Peter Walsh

Unless you are skilled in design, it's best to hire a professional to create a design for your new deck. There are several ways to find an architect or designer who will do a good job. You can use referrals from neighbors and friends, talk to a real estate professional, or go online to search websites that specialize in remodeling, deck construction, landscape design or home building.

Once you make contact, be sure to ask questions and get everything in writing before work begins. You should always verify a professional's credentials and ask for references. If he or she cannot or will not provide access to satisfied customers, consider that a red flag and keep looking. There is a list of questions you should ask your professional before you get started.

Questions Regarding the Professional

  • How long have you been in business?
  • May I have a list of references from previous projects?
  • May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?
  • How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
  • What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?
  • Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC)?
  • Does your company carry workers' compensation and liability insurance?
Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. If licensing is required in your state, also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.

Questions Regarding the Project

  • When can you start?
  • When will you be finished?
  • What time will you knock on my door each morning?
  • What time will you quit for the day?
  • Are you going to work every day?
  • Can you finish before (insert any major holiday or significant family event)?
  • How much will it cost per square foot?
  • Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
  • Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
  • What is your approach to a project such as this?


Generally, the professional you hire to build your new deck will be well versed in the required building permits in your area. You can check with your local building department in the early stages of your planning. Even a small deck that is not attached to your house could possibly need a permit before construction.

"Typically, a lower deck under 30 inches to grade-level won't require a permit," says Gordon Whittaker, owner of Alter Eagle. "This can differ from the city to the same county the city is in." Check with your local building department. There may be brochures listing the requirements for permits in your area.

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