Searching for a patio cover contractor can be an intimidating task. After all, we’ve all heard a horror story or two, and both the internet and local classifieds tend to be teeming with contractors claiming that their company can do the best job in quickest time for the least amount of money. Who can one believe?
The answer to that question is, in fact, no one. Not at first, at least. The best course of option is to actually reach out to a local contractor (preferably one with strong customer reviews and a clear history of success) and be critical. Ask the important questions and get honest answers. Knowledge really is power sometimes, and this scenario is no exception.
So with that being said, here are nine important questions that we recommend asking any patio construction contractor before making a final decision.
- Experience. Find out what this contractor has done in the past. Do you really want to trust a company with no real experience? For some people living in areas with few options, who find themselves on a very tight budget, perhaps the answer is yes. Most of the time, however, you will find that experience and affordability can go hand in hand, and this almost inevitably leads to better results for you, the customer.
- Permissions. Assuming your contractor has any amount of experience working in your area, they will probably have the answers to a few important questions that may be time-consuming to look up on your own. What kinds of permissions (if any) are needed to construct a patio or outdoor space in your area? If you will be needing documentation and permission, does the contractor expect you to take care of this yourself, or will they lend a helping hand? These questions can help you learn valuable information, and they may help you differentiate between potential candidates, as well.
- Insurance policies and worker’s comp. Does this contractor carry insurance that will cover any potential damages that occur on-site? If the answer is no, you could be putting yourself at risk for costly damage that your contract can’t cover. Does your contractor offer worker’s comp to the people it hires? Because construction will be taking place on your property, there is a chance that you could end up being the person legally liable for paying medical bills if someone gets hurt, so this is another important question to consider.
- Awards and Organizations. Does this contract belong to any formal organizations? Has the company won any awards or accolades? If the answers to any of these questions is yes, it could be an important indicator of legitimacy and success. If the answer is no, on the other hand, it may be a bad sign: though some good customer references may make up for it to a certain extent. Which leads us neatly into the fifth point:
- References and Reviews. What kind of customer feedback does this potential contractor boast. (Protip: if they aren’t showing it off, it’s probably because they don’t want you to see what has been said about their services!) Ideally, your contractor of choice should show both customer testimonials and actual footage of projects that they have completed in the past.
- Timeline. How long does the contractor believe your job will take. Are that contractor’s jobs typically completed on schedule? What are the contractual consequences if the contract fails to finish on time? Ideally, your job should be completed in a very timely yet reasonable manner: any answer that does not fit within both of those parameters should be viewed with suspicion at best.
- Time and materials policy. Will you be on the hook for additional costs if the project takes longer than anticipated, or if material costs are higher than imagined? Ideally, of course, the answer to the question should be either no, or only to a minimum extent.
- Daily work schedule. What time will the project be worked upon. Knowing this is important for several reasons. First of all, it matters for the obvious end of simply knowing when people are going to be at your house! Additionally, it allows you to gage the level of professionalism with which this company operates: are the hours logical and consistent? If not, it could be a warning sign.
- Payment schedule. How and when will payments be made? The contract is (justly) going to want some amount paid up front, however, beware of anyone who wants the entire amount paid before the job is done–this takes away quite a bit of your leverage in the situation.
Construct the backyard of your dreams with a little help from Diamond Decks. We have both the practical experience and the precise know-how needed to get the job done quickly, affordably, and effectively.