Are you thinking about building a deck or renovating your existing one, and searching for a deck contractor in Central NH? Not all deck building contractors are alike, and anyone who has had a bad experience has learned that the hard way. Having a positive experience with your deck contractor goes far beyond their knowledge and skill in building decks…they need to manage the business side, which includes customer communication, the timeline of the project, the financials and the unforeseen. Here are some vital questions to help you interview your deck contractor. Some of these questions may feel uncomfortable to ask, or may seem confrontational – these are the most important ones! Oftentimes, how a contractor responds to these questions will either put you at ease or give off red flags. Either way, just asking the question gives you valuable insight. In our 15+ years, we have learned that, more than anything, honest communication and transparency throughout the entire process are VITAL to a smooth experience.
- Are you fully insured? Is everyone working on the project insured?
- Get proof that everyone working on your deck renovation has their required license.
- What is your warranty policy for service or materials?
- Will you obtain the required permits and set up inspections?
- Will you provide a written scope of work and contract?
- Do you have a website with photos of your work and references?
- If this is a vacation home, do you provide daily photos and updates?
- How do you handle mistakes or disagreements? How will additional charges be dealt with? Have you ever walked off a job before?
- What is your proposed timeline for the start through completion?
- What preparations do I need to make before the construction?
1. Are you fully insured? Is everyone working on the project insured? (Your deck contractor may hire subcontractors for some/all of the work.) Hiring a contractor with general liability, automobile, and workers’ compensation is a MUST. We are not attorneys (nor do we play one on tv,) but you could be held responsible for any injuries or damage your contractor causes. These responsibilities could range from injured workers, accidental damage to your neighbor’s property, or an accident unloading materials from the truck onto your property. Ask to see your contractor’s Certificate of Liability Insurance – and make sure it isn’t expired!
2. Get proof that everyone working on your deck renovation has their required license. Did you know that New Hampshire doesn’t have a state-wide license process for general contractors? All the more reason to vet your contractor! However, state licenses are required for electricians. Make sure everyone working on the project has their required licenses.
3. What is your warranty policy? A good deck builder will offer a warranty to cover any structural damage related to the actual construction of the deck. They won’t cover anything regarding the wood itself, or other decking components. You’ll have to acquire warranty information from the manufacturer. At Sakin Home, we offer a 1-year warranty on labor, plus the manufacturer’s warranty as specified on material documentation (composite decking.) Be sure to get a written copy of your deck contractor’s warranty.
4. Will you obtain the required permits and set up inspections? Depending on the town in New Hampshire, your deck building project may require a permit. If you don’t acquire one, or fail to see if one is required, you might run into problems when you try to sell your home, or worse have to pay a fine. If your deck builder says they’ll acquire the permit for you, hold them to it, and get a copy for your records. At Sakin Home, we are very familiar with the local requirements to build your deck, and we will obtain the required permits for you. We file documentation of those permits in our project software system that you have full access to.
5. Will you provide a written scope of work and contract? What does the payment schedule look like? It is essential to have all of the details of the scope of work outlined in a contract, as well as the payment schedule and how change orders and unexpected issues will be resolved. You also need to know what forms of payment your deck builder will accept. If you’re planning on paying by credit, make sure that’s an option. If they only accept cash, that’s a pretty clear sign that the business is not above board. At Sakin Home, we have online payment options through our software system.
6. Do you have a website with photos of your work and references? Can I see a portfolio of completed projects?
7. If this is a vacation home, do you provide daily photos and updates? Sakin Home primarily builds/renovates decks on vacation homes throughout Meredith, Holderness, Waterville Valley and Lincoln, NH. As such, our clients have an account in our software program that gives them daily updates, photos and scheduling of their deck renovation progress. They love these updates! No more questions or worrying about what is going on with their project!
8. How do you handle mistakes or disagreements? How will additional charges be dealt with? Do you foresee any potential problems with this project? Have you ever walked off a job? There are no two ways about it – the very nature of a home/deck renovation is disruptive, and we have found that clearly communicating upfront what a client can expect (and when) creates a significantly more pleasant experience. It’s impossible for any contractor to guarantee there won’t be hiccups along the way, but how your deck contractor communicates with you makes all the difference! We hate to hear stories of big blow-ups in the industry, because we know they can almost always be avoided. The client simply wants to know what is going on with their project, and if there are any issues, how will they be dealt with. That’s why a detailed contract that keeps everyone on the same page is vital!
9. What is your proposed timeline for the start through completion? Depending on the time of year, you may be waiting weeks (or months) for an opening. More often than not, the best deck contractors are booked out, so keep that in mind for your planning. Additionally, no deck builder will be able to give you an exact date of completion due to unforeseen circumstances. With that said, he/she should be able to tell you a range of time your deck renovation should be completed.
10. What preparations do I need to make before the project starts? Can you tell me a bit about your process? Any way you slice it, a renovation on your property is disruptive by nature. That’s why it’s so important for a deck contractor to thoroughly prep their client on what to expect during the entire renovation, and tips to make it more smooth along the way. At Sakin Home, we provide our deck renovation clients with a CLIENT PREP OUTLINE. This outline goes into great detail on what our clients can expect, from what time we start work in the morning, where we should park our vehicles or a dumpster, needing access to electricity, etc.
You can ask many other questions, but this is a good start when interviewing deck builders. Again, a great experience with a deck builder goes far beyond their carpentry skills. Hopefully, these questions above will give you keen insight into choosing the best deck contractor for you, and truth be told, we hope it’s us at Sakin Home.
If you are searching for a deck contractor with a great reputation in Meredith, Holderness, Waterville Valley or Lincoln, NH, please click here. We’d love to have a conversation with you about your deck renovation.
Check out some of our latest articles: Deck Design Questions I Wish I Had Thought of Sooner.