Building or replacing a deck will be a large investment in your home. So when looking for the best deck builder in Columbus Ohio and before you sign a contract consider the following requirements.
Estimates and Payment Conditions
When hiring a deck builder, request a written estimate, which should include cost breakdowns by labor and the required amount the cost of materials. A detailed estimate gives you the ability to compare prospective contractors. Also, the timing and conditions of payment should be very clear.
When you start looking for estimates and design ideas, you will probably trade calls and emails with your deck builder multiple times. This is a normal part of the process and a professional builder should be able to handle these communications.
So if you call your deck builder but can’t get a call back in a reasonable amount of time you should look for a different contractor. Any professional builder with a well-run business should be able to manage questions about your estimate and other details. If the communication is slow initially it will not improve after you have signed a contract. If you feel ignored then look for another contractor.
Who Will Do The Work
Ask who will be performing the actual deck construction? Are the builder’s employees or independent contractors? Nothing wrong with independent contractors but ask how long the crew has worked for the builder with whom you have a contractual relationship.
Also, will the person you working with on the estimate be present or be reachable during the work? If something is not going to plan you need to be able to reach someone who understands your desires.
Ask for at least three references for a similar project in your area. These will be prior customers the contractor should have asked for permission to use as references.
These are the questions you should ask:
- What kind of deck did they build? How does it compare to your project?
- Did the contractor provide a written estimate and explain the costs?
- Was the project completed on budget?
- If the project went over budget did the contractor explain the increase?
- Did the contractor provide a schedule and explain the steps?
- Did the contractor finish on time? If no, why not?
- Was the crew courteous? Did the company hire subcontractors?
- Was the work area cleaned up?
- Would they hire them again?
Check Out Online Reviews
The advantage of the internet is that you can gather a wide range of opinions about a contractor by simply checking out their online reviews. The primary sources for online reviews are Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List. Not every builder will be active on every platform so check several. You can also check out a prospective builder’s Better Business Bureau profile for records of complaints.
Extra credit for builders who respond to negative reviews and fix issues raised by customers. Also, be aware you may encounter fake positive and negative reviews.
Required Deck Permits
The City of Columbus requires zoning approval and will also require a building permit in many cases for building a deck. If you are not familiar with this process it can be very confusing.
Ask any potential deck builder if they will pull the necessary permits specific to deck construction. Any experienced builder should be very familiar with this process. Also, they will have a thorough understanding of the Residential Code of Ohio as it pertains to deck specifications.
Again, other cities in surrounding Columbus will have their own permitting requirements.
Warranty And Follow Up
Always ask how a deck builder will stand behind their deck with a warranty. Also, ask how the builder will respond to the need for follow up appointments to be sure your new deck is installed correctly.
Common follow up, or repair issues addressed for free by deck builders:
- Mistakes or damage due to faulty construction
- Excessive weather damage outside normal expectations
- Squeaky decking or settling after completion
Ask if a follow up call will be scheduled after a certain period of time.
Repairs on any work done by the builder usually at a discounted price
Most professional deck contractors will stand by their work and work to keep repeat customers happy. Repair work may be discounted, or a number of follow-up appointments may be available. If the builder is unwilling to guaranty their work then go elsewhere.
If you desire composite or polymer decking then your deck contractor should have the knowledge to install these products. Manufactures such as TimberTech and others offer training to their registered contractors so you know you are hiring a qualified builder.