What You Need to Know Before You Build.

Cost is only one factor. Learn what else you need to consider.


A professional deck builder can help you create the outdoor space of your dreams. To keep the project on task, choose your builder carefully. Here are some items to consider.

Reputation

Speak with family and friends who have built decks, or do some research through a trusted online forum. Generally, people are happy to share their experiences, both good and bad. Consumer agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, are another resource. As you begin contacting builders, don't forget to ask for references. Speak with these homeowners, ask about their experiences, and try to see the finished decks in person, if possible.

Logistics

Ask questions … lots of questions. A few conversation-starters:

  • Company info: how many employees; years in business; use of subcontractors
  • Experience: typical project size/scope and familiarity with your decking material
  • Legalities: license, if applicable; workmen's compensation insurance; permitting
  • Timelines: when can they start, and how long does a project like yours typically take

Costs

At a minimum, get quotes from three builders. Be sure everything is spelled out: deposit; payment schedule; possible add-on fees, and so on. Material and labor costs can vary widely. It may be tempting to go with the lowest bidder, but don't discount the importance of personal recommendations and experience as well as your comfort level with the individual. You're going to be spending a lot of time together. Be sure this is someone you feel you can trust and communicate with openly.

Remember: no matter how excited you are to begin your project, a little time spent finding the right builder can make all the difference in the end.