If the idea of spending warm, summer evenings relaxing in your yard or hosting weekend BBQs with friends and family appeals to you, then building a deck can bring this dream to life! Adding a deck to your home is a project that you will reap the benefits from the start, right up until you sell. Consumer Reports predicts that making the exterior of your home more appealing to buyers will increase the value of your home by 3-5%. So, what are you waiting for?
If you’ve not started to get estimates yet:
If you’ve submitted a project request on Porch already, expect to hear from a few contractors over the next 24-48 hours. When they call, these are the questions you should be asking:
- What is your company name, location and phone number?
This information allows you to vet the professional once you’re off the phone. This can be done by viewing their profile page on Porch (this will be listed on your project page) and by searching for reviews on other sites such as BBB.
- Are you and your subcontractors bonded and insured?
In the many states, deck contractors aren’t required to be licensed. Check if a license is required in your state, here. It is also important that the pro be bonded and insured. This ensures that you are protected if the contractor doesn’t finish the job, doesn’t pay their subcontractors or hurts themselves on your property. Read more about Insurance and Bonding.
- When would you be able to start a project like mine?
This question will determine the availability of the professional. If you have a specific schedule you need to stick to but the professional won’t be available for a few months, it may be worth considering other options before requesting an estimate. On the other hand, if you need to arrange financial aid before the project starts but the professional has a large job planned for the time that you’d like to start, you will need to know this.
- Would you be able to provide references for previous clients?
Seeing the professional’s work is an extremely good way to determine if they do good work. If a professional cannot provide any references for clients, it’s not a good sign. Tip: Ask for a referral from at least a few months ago, this way you’ll be able to evaluate how well the work holds up over time.
These are questions relevant to all deck construction projects but you may have additional questions that are important to you. Asking questions gives the contractor a better perspective of your priorities and will enable you to determine who is right for your project.
If you already have a deck, you might not need to rip it down and start again to get the new deck effect. Resurfacing could save you time and money, but it’s not for everyone. Read more about whether you should Resurface or Rebuild Your Deck.
New Deck Construction
If you’re ready to construct a new deck, then you’ll need to evaluate which material best fits your lifestyle and budget. Below are the benefits and drawbacks to a few of the most popular decking materials:
Wood: Pressure-treated wood is the most common decking material, for a cheap, classic option that repels insects and water. In order to customize it to your house, there are an array of options for painting and staining it to your liking. However, it needs to be refinished and resealed yearly.
If price isn’t a concern, and you still want the classic look, there are tropical hardwoods and natural hardwoods that also withstand bugs and water when properly treated.
Composite: If maintenance issues are a concern for you, composite is a good alternative to wood. Made from wood fibers and recycled plastics, composite decks are a sustainable and durable option. They can hold up in any climate and require minimum upkeep, while keeping the look of natural hardwood. For this reason, it is more expensive than the alternatives.
Metal: Metal, such as aluminum, is another cost friendly option that strongly holds up to the elements, while staying low-maintenance. In addition to not having to worry about splintering, rot or mold, aluminum is also resistant to rust, making it more durable than other options. In exchange, metal is the most expensive option of materials.
Costs and Budgeting
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of envisioning yourself relaxing on your new deck and forget about the cost. Here are some tips for How To Budget for a Wood Deck Project.
Bare in mind that the cost will differ based on the season, location and the scope of project (quality of materials, shape of the deck, any foundation prep work). Take a look at this article, for an idea of what it costs to construct a deck in your area.
We advise requesting estimates from at least 3 contractors. Not only will this give you an idea of the cost, it will allow you to get to know the contractor and their ideas for your decking project. This is crucial to selecting the right contractor for you. Take a look at this pro advice about What To Expect From Your Exterior Project.
Here are a few questions you should make sure you ask your contractor during the first meeting:
- What is the payment schedule and process?
- What warranty do you offer for your workmanship and materials?
- How long have you worked with your subcontractors or crew?
- Do you specialize in deck construction?
- How long do you predict my project will take?
- What is your process if the weather is bad?
- Is prep/cleaning included in your estimate?
- Can you provide any customer references?
Once you’ve accepted a bid from your contractor, you’re well on your way to starting the project. Before any money is exchanged, make sure you have a written contract.
The most important things to look for in your decking contract are:
- A payment schedule
- Details of materials used and their cost and warranty
- Details and warranty of workmanship
Remember: If you have a change of scope of the contract, it’s extremely important to draw up a ‘Change Order’ form. Even if you verbally agree to 2 coats of stain, if the contract states otherwise and the contractor fails to follow through, it will be difficult to rectify.
Preparing for your project to start
Now you’ve scheduled a time for your deck project to start, make sure you prepare your home. The following preparations will ensure that your home is safe for your family and the contractors and that none of your property is damaged.
- Remove any obstacles, like toys and plant pots, from your yard
- Trim any foliage that may be obstructing the work area
- Warn any family members about the work taking place
When the project is complete
Once your project is complete, consider asking your contractor for recommendations on how to maintain your new deck. Here are a couple of questions that you can ask the contractor after your project is complete:
- How do you recommend cleaning my deck and how often?
- How can I protect my deck in the winter?
- Where can I review your work?
If you’ve followed these steps to find a great contractor then you’re well on your way to a stress-free deck construction. At Porch, we understand that accidents happen. If any damage is caused to your property as a result of the professional we can help you make this right. Read about the terms of our Guarantee.
If you have any questions throughout your deck project, the Porch Home Assistant Team will be happy to help. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.