If you do a simple Google search for decking companies near me online, you’ll find many options in the Raleigh area. It can be overwhelming. However, it is only through asking questions that you can find the best decking contractor for your project.
Here at Structurally Speaking, we put the homeowner first. The result? Gorgeous decks that are exactly what our customers wanted. (Yes, even if they didn’t know exactly what they wanted when we started working together!)
But don’t take our word for it. If you’re considering hiring us – or any deck builder – for an upcoming project, we encourage you to ask a lot of questions. You should feel completely comfortable with the deck company you hire. Here are a few notable red flags that should make you run the other direction when you are choosing a contractor for your new deck.
They Don’t Have Much Deck Building Experience
General contractors are a dime a dozen. If you want the best result, find a contractor that specializes in outdoor projects.
Here at Structurally Speaking, every project is overseen by Jim Brennan, who has been designing and building decks since 1999. After ten years of being a top designer for the largest deck and porch builder in the United States, Jim decided to form his own company. He based Structurally Speaking on his approach to the deck building process, which is to individually design custom decks instead of giving you a cookie cutter solution that doesn’t fully meet your needs. We have been serving the greater Raleigh community since 2008. When you buy from a local company, you know that they want satisfied customers to recommend them to friends and family. That is our goal…satisfied customers who love their new outdoor spaces.
When you hire a general contractor, they may do the work, and it may even be a good job. However, you’ll probably find that your deck isn’t taking full advantage of everything your outdoor space has to offer.
Simply put, Jim has been doing this for over 20 years. He knows exactly what questions to ask about your lifestyle, budget, and personal aesthetic to create the deck of your dreams. To us, your home deserves so much more than a slab of concrete or wood. You deserve a true outdoor living area that your entire family can enjoy.
When You Ask Questions, They Side-Step
It should be a huge red flag to you if a contractor doesn’t answer your questions directly. It typically means one of two things:
- They don’t know the answer and are trying to make you think they do.
- You might not like the answer, so they’re misleading you.
Some people talk a big game, so to speak. They are great at sales, but lacking in the knowledge department. The honest thing to do is to simply say, “I don’t know.” Otherwise, they might be giving you incorrect information. We learn new things every day. Even though we are deck building experts with more than two decades of experience, sometimes a homeowner asks us a question and we don’t know the answer. If that is the case, we’ll always tell you the truth – that we don’t know, but we will find out. We won’t sidestep a question to try to seem smarter.
It’s even more upsetting that a deck company may try to mislead you because they are worried about your reaction about something. Here’s the thing: when we talk about certain topics, especially budget, it’s a little uncomfortable. We might have to break the news to you that a certain type of wood won’t fit into your price range. Or we might have to tell you that a certain design isn’t possible.
Whatever the case may be, you can always count on us to be 100% upfront about your deck and the building process. If something isn’t possible, we’ll work together with you to find an even better solution. We believe this is the only way to ensure you are in love with your new deck at the end of the project. Ask a lot of questions! (Here are five questions we recommend to get started.)
They Push You in a Certain Direction
Don’t let any deck contractor push you around. A contractor might try to push you toward a certain decking material or design for any number of reasons. Remember, this is your home, not theirs. Your opinion is the one that matters.
The most common way a deck contractor will try to push you in a certain direction is with a tactic called “upselling.” This is when a salesperson tries to convince you to upgrade to spend more money. Often, they do this in a sneaky way by getting you to agree to small upgrades and continuing to push you more and more. Suddenly, you could find that your price quote triples, and your deck project has morphed into something you don’t even want.
Our team here at Structurally Speaking will always present you with your options, including different decking material, pergola options, built-in features like a fire pit or outdoor kitchen, screened-in porch designs, and more. However, we are always, first and foremost, conscious of your budget. If you want to go wild with a custom deck that has room for a hot tub, we’ll make it happen! What we won’t do is talk you into a hot tub that you don’t even want.
You Get No Direction at All
Although you don’t want someone to push you in a certain direction, you also need at least a little input from the contractor. A deck company should never expect you to be the designer of your own dream deck. After all, who is the expert here?
We work with many homeowners who have a good idea of what they want. In this case, we’ll still make some suggestions, which you might want to veto or which you might love. When an expert looks at your outdoor space, they probably see possibilities that you don’t. So, we’ll always give you our suggestions.
If you have no idea what you want, beyond a functional outdoor living space, we can help you as well. In this case, we’ll ask you many questions about what you like and dislike. We can even look at pictures of our past projects together to get a better sense of your personal style. Then, we’ll design your dream deck with various options.
What we’ll never do is expect you to just tell us what you want with absolutely no guidance. We’ll walk you through the design process every step of the way.
Their Deck Construction Timeline is Unclear
Over the years, we have worked on hundreds of projects. It’s a simple fact that deck and porch jobs sometimes get delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, such as poor weather. However, all decking companies near me should be able to give you at least an idea of the timeline.
When you work with Structurally Speaking, we commit to:
- Giving you an accurate and honest timeline from the start
- Working with your schedule to ensure that the project fits into your life with as little upheaval as possible
- Staying in close communication about any delays, such as bad weather in the forecast
- Showing up on time on the days we will be working, so you never have to wonder where we are
Any deck contractor you hire should be able to commit to these things as well. If someone won’t set a firm schedule/timeline with you, we recommend working with a different contractor.
They Can’t Show Proof of Insurance or a License (All Decking Companies Near Me Should Have Proof!)
When you’re comparing price quotes from several builders, you might notice one thing the cheapest companies have in common: they have no license or insurance.
In North Carolina, a contracting license is required for larger jobs. If your deck job will cost more than $30,000, it would be illegal for a deck builder to take on that job without a contractor’s license. That said, all companies need to have a regular business license, even if your deck will cost significantly less. Companies who operate without a business license are attempting to bypass certain fees and taxes that the law requires.
It’s also important that you work with an insured contractor. Insurance protects both you and the deck builder. Let’s say, for example, that one of the people working on your deck gets injured. If the company isn’t insured, they could turn around and sue you, the homeowner! While your homeowner’s insurance does protect you in some cases, it is always best to work with an insured contractor. That way, you know you’re covered and you aren’t personally at risk.
Don’t be afraid to ask for license and insurance paperwork when you are interviewing companies and collecting quotes. If they sidestep the question or say they don’t give out this information, you shouldn’t work with that company.
Additionally, we recommend never paying “under the table” for a deck job. If a contractor requests this it is because they are trying to illegally avoid paying taxes. Make sure you have a paper trail to show what you paid and when. If you’re paying with cash, have the person taking your money write out and sign a receipt.
You Don’t Have a Good Sense of What Your New Deck Will Cost
Speaking of money, our last piece of advice is to always work with a contractor who is upfront and transparent about pricing. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a surprise bill at the end of a project.
You should speak with your contractor about your budget at your initial meeting. This budget should be the driving force behind their design suggestions. At Structurally Speaking, we always have an honest conversation at the start of a deck project about budget, so we can set realistic expectations. Then, we’ll show you designs and options that fit into this budget.
A price quote from any deck builder should not be a vague range. Before any money changes hands or any work begins, make sure to set a clear expectation about the price. Sign a contract to ensure that everyone is clear about the amount due and how much you’ll pay upfront versus how much you’ll pay at the end of the project.
During the work, your total cost should not increase unless you add new features. Some companies will try to scam you by telling you that there were unforeseen issues or that the price of their materials went up. Any professional deck builder won’t have these “problems” and can complete the job on budget.
The Structurally Speaking Process
If you’ve been getting a lot of red flags with other companies, we would love to take on your project. Here’s how we work:
- First, we sit down with you to determine your budget and what you want in a new deck. This initial consultation is completely free with no obligation to hire us.
- Next, Jim will take this information and complete some designs custom-created for your home. He’ll sit with you to present these designs, so you can choose the best option for you.
- Only after you’ve chosen a design you love, will we start the building process. We’ll stay within the budget and communicate closely with you. If you have any questions, we’re always available.
Jim oversees every single project to ensure the quality of the work. We don’t hand you off to a third party. Your home is important to us.
Are you ready to begin with a free consultation? There’s absolutely no obligation to sit down with Jim and discuss your decking needs. Click here to contact us today. Or, just give us a call at 919-786-4825.