Adding a backyard deck to your home is a big decision that will require a significant investment of time and money. A well-designed structure can enhance your property, provide an outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining, and add to the resale value of your home.
Hiring the right custom deck builder to handle your project is essential to obtaining a great final outcome, so you’ll need to do a little prep work before starting the process.
1. Make a Plan
A deck builder company can help fine-tune your deck details, but you should have a general concept in mind before you contact a professional. You’ll definitely want to determine some components in advance, so start by surveying your property and going online to research ideas, such as:
- Deck location – look for an open space behind the kitchen, family room or master bedroom with a door for easy egress to the deck. You may also consider an elevated deck to provide access and security to an above-ground pool. Or think about adding a private, free-standing custom deck nestled among the trees at the rear of your property.
- Configuration – measure the designated area and decide if your deck will be single- or multi-level, large or small, covered or open. If it will be adjacent to existing landscaping, hardscaping, pool, or garden, you should have a general idea how you’d like to transition between areas.
- Decking material – there are a variety of excellent decking products on the market today. In addition to the most common pressure treated lumber, you may be interested in composite, tropical hardwoods, cedar and redwood, ipé hardwood, or plastics. Consider cost, durability and maintenance requirements and choose the product that will provide the best long-term positive results for your circumstances.
- Add-ons – Think about what type of railings you’ll want—a standard design or something more contemporary? There are an endless number of options and accessories available for outdoor living today. Write up a wish list for things like a pergola, cooking space, dining section, lounge area, kid-friendly play space. You may also consider more permanent components like a fireplace, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, built-in benches and planters, lighting or a hot tub.
- Timeframe for installation – many deck building companies have projects lined up months in advance, so you’ll want to discuss upcoming special events you want to use the deck for or dates you want to avoid.
- Budget – each custom deck design will be unique in every way, especially the price. By establishing a budget before meeting with a deck builder company, you can better control the final costs. If your cash resources are limited for this project, you may want to consider a home improvement loan or financing programs available through your deck builder.
2. Find a Professional Deck Builder
Start by consulting friends, family and neighbors who have had a deck built recently. One of the best ways to find a quality deck builder is through personal recommendations. Ask about their experience, what they liked, what they didn’t, if they’d use them again, and if they’d recommend their deck builders for your project. Be sure to ask if their deck was completed within budget and on time, if there were any problems, and how they’d rate the quality of work.
Consider using local review sites like TrustedPros or Home Stars that offer a rating system and homeowners’ feedback, or the local Better Business Bureau to find reputable organizations and how any complaints have been resolved.
3. The Interview Process
Once you find 3 to 5 highly recommended custom deck builders, it’s time to pick up the phone. While it may be more comfortable to send an email or contact them through their website, a telephone interview will be faster and create a more lasting impression. Often you can tell from the first conversation if a company is professional and a good fit for your project.
Before requesting an estimate, ask these questions:
- How do they handle the design process? Will they create a perfectly planned layout and 3D rendering based upon the details and requirements you provide? This will give you peace of mind throughout the process and deliver expected results.)
- How many years have they been in business? How many people will be on a crew? Will there be a supervisor on site? Are they insured?
- Ask for references for recent jobs they completed and make sure you follow up.
- If you have a specific timeframe in mind, ask if they can accommodate your schedule. There’s no sense in obtaining an estimate if the work can’t be completed within your parameters.
4. The Estimates
For a large deck project, you should consider getting 2 to 3 bids. As price variations can range in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, it’s important to compare several estimates. The deck builder should visit the site and provide a comprehensive, written estimate based on the criteria you provide. All bids should include the same quality material, fees, licenses and warranties.
Every professional deck builder must provide: a scope of work outlining all the components of the job, permit process, inspections, time of delivery, and payment schedule. Make sure the price is all-inclusive so there won’t be any surprises at the end. Most deck builders require 5 to 10 percent deposit up front as a good faith gesture with a payment schedule throughout the process. It’s never a good idea to pay for the entire job before the work is completed. If you require financing, this would be a good time to inquire about any programs they may have. Keep copies of all estimates for future reference in case there’s a discrepancy.
The estimates should also have separate details on labor and materials plus include clean up and hauling away of any debris.
5. Making Your Selection
While accepting the lowest bid seems like the best option, it’s important to do your due diligence. If you haven’t done so, contact referrals by phone to obtain the most honest review.
When you finally decide on the deck builder you want to hire for your outdoor project, you should receive a written contract outlining the entire project. Terms and conditions should be detailed, a scope of work, project timing, payment schedule, and it should all be tied to specific details of your deck. Ask for a copy of their license and insurance forms and be sure they’re up to date. They should also have liability insurance to cover injuries or damage during construction plus workers compensation.
If the deck builder provides a warranty, it should detail what it covers for materials, labour or both. Information should also be included on how to file a claim.
The key to obtaining the deck of your dreams is to be involved in the process from beginning to end. While an excellent deck builder can assemble a beautiful outdoor space, if it doesn’t include all the components you envision, you may be disappointed. Follow these top 5 tips, and you’ll be able to spend years enjoying your outdoor retreat.
For a highly qualified custom deck builder serving Markham, Toronto and GTA, contact KP Construction, and schedule your free consultation today.
Not Sure Where To Start?
Read our recommendations on deck design, deck planning and building bellow.
How To Build a Perfect Deck
Homeowners’ Deck Maintenance Tips
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