How To Choose a Contractor

How to choose a deck builder?

Selecting a company to build your deck can be an intimidating process. There are an awful lot of things to consider from the various designs and building materials to the zoning regulations, permitting and budgeting details.  It’s a lot to think about and not necessarily easy to navigate for the average person. Plus, you want to make sure you get a quality deck with excellent workmanship!  Luckily, there are a few simple steps to follow that will help you make the right choice.

When it comes to choosing who to hire, the most important things to remember are to do your due diligence on the builder, to stay informed by asking as many questions as possible, and to only sign off on an agreement that completely satisfies your vision for a new deck. By following these steps, you’ll be buying yourself the peace of mind that you deserve, and it won’t be long before you’re basking in sunshine on your glorious new Blue Chip Deck!

Have an idea of what you want

Before making any calls, give some thought to the type of deck you would like to have. This can smooth out the early stages of communication with a potential builder and help you to do your research more quickly. It isn’t necessary to have a complete vision of the deck down to the last detail; only a few very basic design aspects can make a big difference in the early stages.

Some considerations to have in mind are:

  • What size of deck are you needing (sq ft & dimensions)?
  • How many levels do you need/want?
  • What type of material do you want (WOOD, COMPOSITE, DURADEK)?
  • What kind of deck features do you want (Pergolas, Planters, Benches, etc.)?
  • What is your project budget?
Blue Chip Tech Tip: 

Dedicate some time to researching your deck before you start looking for a builder. This will position you better in the project’s discussion/negotiation AND your knowledge will help you screen out poor builders quickly, saving you valuable time!

Do your homework

For any builder that you identify as a potential hire, it is a good idea to check their credentials. Investigate whether the builder is registered, if they belong to any professional contractor associations, if they have online reviews, and if they have references or testimonials.

Some great resources to look up are:

  • Google reviews
  • Facebook reviews
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Houzz
  • Yelp Business
  • North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA)


*Link for these sites are available at the bottom of this article

It’s also a good idea to review some examples of the builder’s past work and look at the types of decks that they can build.  If you can’t find examples of these on a builder’s company website, they should be made available upon request.  Not only will you see concrete examples of the builder’s workmanship, but if your vision for your deck is only half-formed, this can be a great source of inspiration!

Blue Chip Tech Tip: 

Reviews can be deceiving! Make sure you source multiple sites to get a good example of the builder’s work history with clients. The three main review sites are Google, Facebook and BBB. If a builder does not have accessible reviews on these sites, they may have been turned OFF intentionally. Also, investigate reviews thoroughly to prove they are authentic. Reviews are often pumped up by EMPLOYEES and/or PURCHASED services.

Meet in Person

The client-builder relationship is important; you want to make sure that the company you are hiring is dependable, honest, and carry a high level of expertise and professionalism. This can be difficult to assess if you haven’t met the builder in person. While phone calls or emails are enough for initial correspondence, it is important to meet with any potential builder before making any decisions. Make an appointment and invite them over to discuss the plans to provide an estimate.

Look out for RED FLAGS such as:

  • Lateness
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Poor communication
  • Unable to answer detailed questions
  • Unfriendly

After all, these are the people you’ll be trusting with your money and your property!

Blue Chip Tech Tip: 

Meeting face-to-face for the first time is an excellent time to test a prospective builder. How do they handle themselves while measuring and using a clipboard? Are they fumbling around, and do they seem disorganized (Red Flag!)? Do they seem confident and knowledgeable when asked difficult questions?

It’s good idea to have a few questions ready before you meet to test a potential builder.

*For a more detailed set of questions, please visit our “5 Things to Ask Your Contractor” page.

Ask a lot of questions!

This cannot be stressed enough! You’ll want to know all the details of the build.  It’s also important to compare the various policies of each builder if you are considering more than one.

Some important questions are:

  • Is there a warranty included with the work?
  • Do they have insurance?
  • Are permits required?
  • Who will be working on your property?

*For a more detailed set of questions, please visit our “5 Things to Ask Your Contractor” page.

Review deck designs and plan in detail!

Present to the builder what it is that you want and ask for their input or suggestions.

This is a great opportunity for the builder to prove that they are serious and can assist with an actual build plan. INSIST ON A PLAN! Find out what types of features they can include in the final product as well. Once all the details have been ironed out, have the builder prepare a design and build plan.

This should include:

  • Dimensional scaled drawings
  • 3D scaled drawings
  • A clear list of included Features (e.g., Planter, Benches, Pergolas, etc.)
  • A clear list of included Essentials (e.g., Material type, Railing type, etc.)
Blue Chip Tech Tip: 

Don’t settle for a design that doesn’t fit YOU or fit YOUR HOUSE! Insist on a plan that fits your home and your desires.

Get a quote and a contract

Once you have agreed on a design with a builder, it is time to discuss both the cost of the project and the terms of payment.  Have the builder provide you with a detailed quote, and if everything is satisfactory, ask them to draw up a contract. The contract should clearly outline the agreed upon price and that all the deliverables will be produced.

The contract should include:

  • Dimensional scaled drawings
  • 3D scaled drawings
  • A clear contract with all pricing included
  • A clear payment schedule
  • A clear details section explaining project specifics
  • A clear warranty section
  • A rough start time for the project
Blue Chip Tech Tip: 

We suggest you familiarize yourself with your builder’s policy for making project changes after the contract has been signed. We also advise to agree on a contingency plan in the event of unforeseen repairs or work.