The Top 5 Questions To Ask Your Fence & Deck Contractor:
If you are considering hiring a professional fencing contractor or deck builder, there are few questions you'll want to ask before getting started. Here are the top five questions to ask your contractor:
1) Ask if a deposit is required - Reputable fence builders and deck builders don't need to ask a customer for a deposit to begin work. A decent contractor should have the financial ability to purchase materials up front, and the confidence to deliver the final project in order to get paid for the job when completed.
2) Ask about insurance and licenses - Hiring a "handyman" or somebody doing construction work "on the side" to build a fence or deck may cost a little less up front, but there are several risks involved if they don't have the proper license or insurance. If somebody gets hurt during construction for example, you may be responsible via your homeowners insurance. Fence builders usually don't need to get building permits, but deck builders often do - so this will often be a problem for unlicensed deck contractors. Professional fence and deck contractors will always carry adequate insurance and the proper local business licenses.
3) Ask about extra charges - Sometimes you will receive an "estimate" from a fence company or a deck company instead of a "quotation". Often times other contractors will add extra charges along the way that may or may not be confirmed with the homeowner first. If you have already committed to the project with a particular fence and deck contractor, it can be harder to contest any extra charges along the way. Fence and deck projects generally have little or no cost changes along the way, so make sure that you are receiving a price "quotation" in writing that will represent the final bill for the project as described.
4) Ask your deck or fence builder if they use screws or nails - Although most wood fence contractors and wood deck contractors these days are only using screws in their construction, some companies will still use nails. Using a nail gun is faster than screwing, and some people will try to convince you that nails are a better solution for various reasons, but the fact is that nails will fail sooner than screws in outdoor fence & deck construction. Quality fencing companies and deck contractors will never consider using nails, especially with pressure treated lumber which can easily twist and bend free from nails as it dries. Furthermore, you'll need to ensure that you are hiring a company that is using the proper grade of outdoor screws that are approved for use in the material being used.
5) Ask about a warranty - A reputable builder should offer a warranty on the workmanship of the finished project. The material warranty, if applicable should also be passed along to the homeowner and will vary in terms and length. The labour warranty should be at least two years to allow for full exposure to all four seasons a couple of times - this will expose any workmanship problems that would need to be addressed. Also consider that a warranty is only valuable if the company remains in business - a warranty from a very small company or single individual is generally worth much less than a warranty from a reputable larger company that has been established for many years.