With so many deck builders out there, how do I know which one to hire?
This is a very good question. I am in San Antonio TX. A simple Google search will list hundreds of deck builders in San Antonio alone. With all the companies out there it can get a bit overwhelming to say the least. There are quite a few reputable deck builders in San Antonio each with different strengths as well as weaknesses. Some companies build close to a 1000 decks per year, while others only build a dozen extremely high-end custom decks. One company specializes in Cedar Decking, while another specializes in Composite Decking.
So which one do I choose?
With all of these companies eager to earn your business I would interview at least 3, maybe even 5 separate deck builders. When you call so set up an estimate ask them three important questions.
- Is Your Company Insured?
- Can You Provide References?
- Do You Offer a Warranty?
Ask them to bring proof of insurance, 10 referrals, and their warranty contract to your initial consultation. You would be surprised how many will show up with out this simple list. In my book you blew it as a contractor if you cant accommodate this simple request. Assuming some of the builders show up with what you have requested move on to the consultation. This usually consists of walking the proposed location, taking measurements, pictures, and a drawing. This process doesn’t take long at all. A competent builder or designer can be in and out in under an hour in most cases.
With the formalities out of the way it is now time for the builder or designer to go back to the office and prepare your proposal.
Most deck builders in San Antonio will send out a salesman that will try and get you to sign a contract right then and there. I understand….. These salesmen are dependent on closing the deal; I just think its poor taste. I want to have time to verify your references and check your insurance. Half the time when the actual builder gets to look at the Deck Drawing it has to change due to the salesman not having adequate knowledge of the building components. There is no reason to sign a contract on the initial visit.
After they leave, do yourself a favor and do a little research. Pick up the phone and call their references. Ask if they can send pictures, if they truly are a good reference they might even invite you out to look first hand. The next call should be to their suppliers or vendors. I have seen first hand where a builder is in debt to their supplier creating a very costly situation. The supplier by right can come after the materials, and if those materials were delivered to your property they have the legal right to file a lien on your home. Though this is rare I have seen this happen right here in San Antonio.
After calling their references, check on the status of their insurance. 99% of the time deck companies in San Antonio sub out the actual build. These subcontractors are often not insured leaving you liable if something should happen to them. If they left you a copy of their insurance a simple 5 minute call could prevent a catastrophic problem.
Lastly go with your gut, don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish. If you are on the fence and your favorite deck builder charges $500.00 more than one that makes you feel a little uneasy, spend the extra $500.00. You will be happy you did.
Until next time, this is The Patio Man reminding you that life is better served outside.