Be Wary of Red Flags When Finding Decking Companies Near Me

decking companies near meIf 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:

  1. They don’t know the answer and are trying to make you think they do.
  2. 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 materialpergola 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.

5 Questions to Find the Best Decking Contractors Near Me

Decking contractors near me

When hiring decking contractors near me, what sets apart one contractor from another? And how can you pick the options for your deck project? Let’s talk about five questions every homeowner needs to consider when hiring a deck builder.

Which Decking Contractors Near Me Offer Custom-Designed Decks?

First, consider which deck contractor will be able to take your vision and bring it to life? And what if you don’t know what you want, beyond a beautiful outdoor living space?

Here at Structurally Speaking, owner Jim Brennan personally oversees every project from start to finish. He’ll meet with you to discuss your needs and see your outdoor space, design your deck, and oversee the building team. If you have an idea of what you want, Jim will help you achieve your goals. On the other hand, if you’re not sure what you want, Jim can explain your options. His decades of expertise in this field will always provide you with your dream deck…no matter what your dream envisions!

Our decks can be simple or elaborate. Here are just a few of the different projects we’ve designed and completed in the past:

  • Multi-level decks
  • Second-story decks with stairs leading down to your yards
  • Decks with pergolas
  • Small decks for limited spaces
  • Hot tub decks
  • Decks that are built around landscape features, such as trees
  • Combination deck/sunrooms
  • Decks with built-in benches
  • Gardener-friendly decks with built-in planters
  • Decks around a pool

Your custom deck will take advantage of all your home and garden’s unique features when it is designed by Structurally Speaking.

When designing your new deck, here are a few things Jim and our team will keep in mind:

  • What is the primary use for your deck and which family members will use it most often?
  • Will you need built-in seating for large parties? Or will you need areas where seating arrangements can be created with stand-alone furniture pieces?
  • What kind of maintenance and upkeep are you willing to do?
  • Are there any mobility issues for yourself or guests that necessitate ramps, wider stairs, etc.?
  • Do you have an existing porch, patio, or deck that needs to be demolished or incorporated into the design?
  • What direction does your home face? (i.e., when and how much sun will your deck get?)
  • Do you have a pool, hot tub, or water feature you’d like to incorporate?
  • Is it important to you that we include a fire pit or fire table area?
  • What kind of railing do you want (and what do you need to keep your family safe)?
  • Are you interested in a wood deck, a composite deck, or another material?
  • Do you have existing outdoor furniture or elements that you want us to incorporate into the deck design?
  • Will you need new doors added to your home to access the deck?
  • Do you have any construction challenges, such as an extremely sloped yard?
  • Does the deck design need to incorporate built-in lights, or will you make use of existing outdoor lights?
  • Do you want space for outdoor cooking and grilling?
  • What is the overall aesthetic of your home?

This isn’t a complete list, but don’t be intimidated. We’ll walk you through all the options in terms of size, color, materials, and more during the initial consultation.

After the initial consultation, we’ll do a design presentation with at least two different design recommendations. These are scaled drawings that show different elevations and viewpoints. You get a chance to discuss the advantages of each option, as well as make any changes.

You won’t get this kind of back and forth with every deck builder. With other contractors, you might have fewer options for customization. In fact, some only offer cookie-cutter decking solutions. Will you really use your new outdoor space if it isn’t designed well? A custom solution gives you more bang for your buck. It’s why we are a top deck contractor in the Triad area!

How Much Will My New Deck Cost?

Every deck builder has their own way of calculating how much your deck project will cost. However, when you work with the Structurally Speaking team, we don’t start with a design and then determine the budget. Instead, we start with your budget and create a design that falls within it.

Speaking about your budget will be part of our initial consultation. If you have a limited budget, don’t worry! We can still help you build the deck of your dreams. In this case, we’ll look for ways to save money while maintaining the unique deck elements that are important to you.

For example, maybe you are willing to consider a smaller deck, as long as it still has enough room for seating your family.

Or, as another example, maybe you go for the bigger deck but a less expensive material and standard decking color, instead of a material that is fully customized and more expensive.

We’ll go over every design element so we can gauge what is most important to you. Then, we’ll design a deck that perfectly fits your budget and your wish list.

Keep in mind that when you work with the Structurally Speaking team for your custom deck, we don’t present you with a surprise bill at the end of the project. You’ll know exactly how much your deck will cost before we start building it. We don’t magically find ways to inflate your bill during the project as some contractors do. The number we quote is the price you pay.

We have relationships with many manufacturers, so we’re able to offer competitive pricing. We pass on any savings to you, so you’ll be able to get a new deck without breaking the bank.

Will My Deck Project Be Well-Managed?

Deck building is our passion. We don’t sell you on a design and then pass off the project to an independent general contractor, as is the case with some companies. When you hire Structurally Speaking, you hire our in-house team. We’ll be the ones completing the construction part of the project.

This is part of the reason why it’s so important to hire a local team for the job. Larger national companies generally have subcontractor teams that take over when the sales team is done. The problem with this is that the sales team might not know much about decking design. They just know how to convince you to sign on the dotted line. At the same time, the general contractor team doesn’t know what the sales team promised. They aren’t invested in making sure the customer, is happy. They simply build what they are told.

And if they can cut corners, they often do. Subcontractors are paid a set fee to do the work, and this pay rate is often low. So, they cut corners in order to take home more money. They might buy lower-quality supplies, rush the work, or skip important steps. As a result, many homeowners who work with larger decking companies find that they need a deck replacement after just a few years.

At Structurally Speaking, Jim oversees every project to make sure it is done right and you are happy with the results. We never cut corners to make a job go faster, and our number one concern is ensuring your deck is safe, functional, and beautiful. You won’t need to replace your Structurally Speaking deck for decades after it is built.

Can the Contractor Help Me if a Deck isn’t the Best Option?

Sometimes, you might start out thinking that you want a deck. However, once you really think about it, you might want a screened porchthree season porch, or sunroom instead. If this is the case, can the contractor you choose help you?

If you hire Structurally Speaking, the answer is yes! We have experiences with all types of decks and porches. Our goal isn’t to design your deck; it’s to design your perfect outdoor living space. Sometimes, once we start talking, we determine that a deck isn’t the best choice. Or, we do a dual deck/sunroom combination.

Your outdoor living space needs to fit your family’s needs. So, if you hire a custom deck builder who isn’t flexible, you may find yourself with an end product that you don’t really use.

Which Local Deck Contractor Provides the Best Customer Service?

Our overall recommendation is to interview several potential custom deck builder companies and find the one that provides you with the best customer service. Most other issues can be handled if you have a design and building team dedicated to making you happy. Here’s how we go above and beyond for our customers:

  • We stay in close contact during your project. You never have to wonder what’s going on, and you can call any time if you have a question.
  • When we set a timeline, we stick to it. Obviously, when speaking about outdoor work, Mother Nature sometimes has other plans. However, we always stay in close communication. During the building process, our team shows up on time, so you don’t have to sit around wondering where we are or if we are coming that day.
  • We love your input. We don’t have pre-set designs that we use for every homeowner. Your home and yard are unique, so your deck should be unique too. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want initially. We’ll walk you through it.)
  • If needed, we’ll do the paperwork for you. Some projects require approval from a homeowners’ association or even a permit from the city. We know exactly how to deal with these needs to ensure that your deck building project is completed without any problems.
  • We’ll hunt down those special materials you really want. If you have your heart set on something, we’ll make it happen.
  • If you aren’t happy about something, we’ll make it right. At the end of the project, you should completely love your new deck.

We take pride in providing top-quality customer service every step of the way. In fact, here’s what one of our customers had to say about working with our team:

“Now that our deck is complete, I want to thank you and your team for the high level of craftsmanship and professionalism. We gave you a tight deadline for completion of the deck before a major social event and your team hit the target perfectly. The back and forth exchange of ideas and suggestions for the materials and design were most productive and our collaboration produced a beautiful deck area. As you know we connected immediately with the sense we could work well together and the whole process was well-explained and executed to perfection. The experience you possess showed itself many times over from the easy inspection approval to the look of the deck design from all viewpoints. Your crew was hard-working and very highly skilled…a rare combination that shows in the final product. Thanks for a great job and many more beautiful decks are in your future, we are certain.” – Rob and Sheila Roszell

You can read more customer reviews here.

How to Get Started

If you’re ready to start on your custom deck design, click here to contact us. Jim is happy to speak with you in a no-obligation consultation, in order to determine the best option for your home.