Finding a great deck contractor is a process.
After researching online reviews and asking your friends, family, and random people in line at Tim Hortons if they can recommend someone, you’ve proudly compiled a list of candidates. You’ve contacted them to schedule a quote and with estimate in hand, you’re inches away from making a decision.
But before you pull the trigger on hiring a deck builder, you better check their references.
Contractors are asked for references almost daily. They usually have a list of go-to contacts, who are past clients they can count on to sing their praises. While these people will say all the right things, their experiences may not be an accurate representation of a typical job. So how do you get in touch with a typical customer and get a true picture of what it’s like to work with a particular decking company?
Here are three ways and 19 questions to expertly check your deck contractor’s references:
1 – Ask for their most recent references
Rather than allowing the bidding contractor to cherry pick their references, take a cue from the HR industry and request contacts from their 2-3 most recent jobs. This will provide a much more accurate account of what you can expect in working with them.
If your contractor has trouble coming up with your requested references, it may be a red flag.
To get solid insights from the references you’re given, ask them the following:
- How did you find them?
- What work did they do?
- Were they on budget?
- Was it completed on schedule?
- Did they do what they said they would do?
- Who was on site during work?
- Were they responsive?
- What were you most happy with?
- Was there anything you would have changed about the project?
- What were your payment terms?
2 – Get references for longevity and applicability
While getting testimonials from current clients is helpful, it’s also important to understand how the contractor’s work holds up over time. In addition to asking for recent references, ask for 1-2 references that had their deck done two or more years ago.
If your contractor works with multiple decking materials, make sure they’re providing references that had the same material and components that you’re interested in using. A great reference on composite decking doesn’t mean much if you’re having vinyl decking installed.
In addition to asking these references the questions listed above, get answers to the following:
- What did your deck project include and what decking materials were used?
- How would you describe your experience with this deck builder?
- Were you happy with the outcome?
- Would you recommend this company to your friends and family?
3 – Find non-customer references
Wouldn’t it be great if you could be a fly on the wall in your contractor’s office to see how they conduct their business? The next best thing to spying on their daily operations is asking a contractor’s industry partners for the inside scoop.
Request the contact details of a supplier they work with regularly, such as a lumber yard or vinyl decking supplier. These insiders can give you valuable insights on if they pay bills on time, how they are to work with, and how happy their employees are.
Take advantage of these valuable contacts and get answers to these questions:
- How long have they been buying from you?
- Have they done business by any other name since buying from you?
- Would you recommend them to your friends or family?
- Do they have an account?
- Do they currently have an overdue balance?
Whether you’re looking for a Vancouver deck builder, or a reliable contractor anywhere in Canada, finding the right company can be tedious. Don’t be tempted to skip this important step of asking for and checking references. Use these 3 pro tips to make sure that you get an accurate reflection of what to expect before you sign a contract with any deck builder.