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A Dilemma: Who should I choose when building my deck and screen porch? (part 1)

Typically most people will speak to three different contractors and they will get three separate quotes.

In all cases this creates the need for decisions to be made. It also creates somewhat of a dilemma. You will meet with three different people and you will have three different relationships develop. In some cases you meet with someone you just do not like and you will completely rule them out of the equation. So let's assume that you narrow this down to two companies. You try to compare apples to apples but most of the time you are evaluating different scopes of work. You should never make a decision on who you're going to choose without first visiting one or two job sites and look at the quality of the work and get an idea of what it is that you are going to receive.

Unfortunately most people do not do that. What they do instead is to choose the least expensive contractor and fail to make sure that they have identified everything that they are going to receive. I like to call it expectation. Everybody has a different expectation and most of the time these expectations have not been addressed by the contractor that is being hired.

We at Deck Builders USA always put you first whether Deck Builders USA gets the job or not. The goal of Deck Builders USA is to help you set realistic expectations and to guide you in the process. Speak to any of our clients and they will assure you of how we treat our customers.

In most cases we experience homeowners making the choice based on choosing the contractor that quoted the least amount of money. We at Deck Builders USA understand cost but there typically is a good reason that the other contractor is less expensive. Before you sign an agreement you have the opportunity to actually find out why there is a price difference. When you perform your Due Diligence you should pick up the phone and speak to both contractors and have a series of questions available. Try and determine why there is a price difference. You can always discuss prices with Deck Builders USA and we will be glad to help you understand what the differences are. The most common omission on the homeowner's part is to avoid speaking with the contractor that they feel is too high priced. We feel this is the most important part of your due diligence and neglecting to do so will most likely not work in your favor. Deck Builders USA is here to assist you whether or not we get the job. Since Deck Builders USA is owned by a code certified, ASHI certified inspector our primary goal is to find ways to help you get the best built deck possible so whether or not we get the job we are still available to answer your questions.

Let me share with you one experience. Deck Builders USA quoted a deck and a screen porch and did not get the job. The homeowner went with a lower price point and never discussed their decision with us. About 3 to 4 months later we got a phone call from the homeowner asking if we would come out and do an inspection of the deck and screen porch that was being built. The homeowner identified that he had some serious concerns about the workmanship and he did not feel as though this project was being built to code standards. The homeowner decided to call us because we did not close the door and felt comfortable that we would take care of their needs.

I suppose this is somewhat unorthodox to call the company that did not do the job but on the other hand the homeowner was smart enough to recognize that Deck Builders USA was the company to call and that we had a code certified inspector on staff that would be willing to assist them. Because of our business philosophy we were more than willing to help and did perform this inspection. It further gave Deck Builders USA an opportunity to better understand how we could help others in the same situation and perhaps avoid future mishaps. As it turns out this was not a professional deck builder that was hired but a general contractor that managed to come in at a few thousand dollars less than the Deck Builders USA quote.

At the end of this inspection I am quite certain the homeowners felt remiss that they did not choose Deck Builders USA to build this project for them. Not only was there one rejection by the county inspector but there were several major parts of this project that just did not meet the code requirements. Overall the construction was typical of a contractor that did not understand how to build a deck. The screen porch was one of those metal roof and frame projects that structurally was not as strong as if it were built out of 6 x 6 pressure-treated lumber. It was a prefabricated screen porch that would cost a lot less than putting up a wood framed project and roof with Rafter system.

At the end of the day choosing the least expensive contractor to build your project could ultimately end up costing you more money than if you were to go with the highly professional and skilled contractor who understood the project scope and how it needed to be built. Bottom line is build it right the first time and you ultimately will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This particular deck was being built out of 4 x 4 lumber for the guardrail system and was being notched, the footings were too small and the posts were offset. The stairs had already been rebuilt twice and were still wrong.

So, the dilemma, who do you choose? Do your Due Diligence, speak to past clients and visit the job sites.

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