How to choose a contractor to build your deck

Phantom Screens / August 4, 2016

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A great way to expand your outdoor living spaces is to add a deck or porch. Of course, the process of designing and building one is a tricky business. To ensure you’ll end up with the porch of your dreams, you may want to consider hiring a contractor. The contractor you hire will be working with you for a while so it’s imperative you choose the right one.

Certified

It may sound simple enough, but it’s still worth saying. When you seek out a contractor, be sure he or she is licensed, bonded, certified and insured in your state or province. A contractor with the proper background will know and follow building laws and codes, ensuring your deck is safe. Insured contractors will also take care of any employees injured on the job, if that were to happen. Your mind will rest much easier knowing that your contractor has all the right know-how to take care of unexpected situations that may come up.
Along with certifications, you should find out if your contractor will get all the necessary building permits. When he does, be sure you receive a copy for your records. Building without a permit will add on complications when it comes time to sell, if not before. So if the contractor does not get the proper permits, be sure you do.

References and portfolio

When interviewing a contractor, ask him or her for references and a portfolio of his or her previous work. This may come in the form of blue prints and photos. Go through the materials to see if you like the contractor’s style. Maybe you like wrap-around porches, but he or she specializes in other looks. Either choose someone else, or play to the contractor’s strengths. Looking at his or her work also gives you the opportunity to point out features you like. Maybe the contractor did a deck with a stain you could see on your porch. Let him or her know so you can start designing a unique deck together.
When you get the list of references, be sure to follow up. Do call other families the contractor has worked with and ask about their experience. Be sure to hit on specifics. Were there repairs that needed to be made? How did the final product turn out? Was it a long process? If reviews are consistently negative, run for the hills – or just another contractor.

Timeline

You probably want to start using your outdoor living spaces soon, so find out how long a project generally takes. Unexpected weather can delay building, but you’ll want to know how to plan your life around construction. A timeline is also important because many contractors include time in their bill. The longer it takes, the more the job will cost. Decide early on how payments will be scheduled. The contractor may like a series of payments, or half now and half upon competition. The schedule should work just as well for you as for him or her.

Talk about your needs

Are there specific materials you’d like to use? Let your contractor know the types of woods, finishes and other features you’d like to see on your porch. These details all become a part of the final bill for the project. If you plan on adding retractable screen systems to your porch in the future, you’ll want to consider how that will factor into the deck design. It is important to discuss structural additions early on in order to incorporate them into your designs. For example, your contractor can work with the installer of large motorized screens to recess all tracks and housings inside your porch or deck structure, thereby delivering a final result that truly blends with the rest of your home.
Once you’ve chosen the wood you’re going to use, you can be sure to implement that into your surface-mounted retractable screen systems. Phantom Screens offers a variety of wood grain options so that your screens blend in with your home design. Your window screens can feature the same wood as your new deck, tying the whole look of your house together.