When you’re ready for a new deck, bridge, or other wooden structure, there are a lot of questions to consider. You’ve probably already imagined what you want the final structure to look like and how much your budget is for the project. But your imagination only gets you so far; at some point, you need to consider what builder you will use. Most people go online to search for a reputable contractor, and that’s usually a good idea. You don’t, however, want to choose the first name in your search. Find several contractors online and research as much as possible before you even contact them. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few who look promising, it’s time to meet with them, discuss your project, and get an estimate. During that discussion, there are some specific questions you can ask to help you choose the best contractor for the job.
How experienced are you?
Everyone wants a contractor who knows what they’re doing, so the first question should always be about the contractor’s experience. Be more specific than that. Explain exactly what you want, whether it is a bridge, deck, or dock, and then ask the contractor about their experience with that type of structure. The contractor you want to hire knows all the ins and outs of building exactly what you want. For example, bridge contractors should know the best techniques for building in or around water, and the best way to learn that is through experience.
Sometimes you can look at awards that a contractor has won to see how experienced a contractor is. Organizations like Associated Builders and Contractors maintain strict quality standards for members, and they identify when organizations like Nature Bridges earn elite awards, such as the 2022 Top Performer lists.
How knowledgeable are you?
Experience and knowledge usually go hand in hand, but you should still consider this a separate question. Again, be specific to the structure you want built. Ask the contractor about what materials they want to use to build your deck and why they would use those materials. A knowledgeable builder has a good idea of the wood that would be best in the environment. A knowledgeable contractor might recommend a specific type of wood if you live in a humid area, and the recommendation may be different if your climate is dry.
The contractor you choose should also know building codes for your area. Checking state or local license requirements, and then asking the builder about licenses, is an effective way to determine their knowledge of building codes. Remember that codes are not the same in each state, or even throughout the state, so you want to ensure that a contractor has the appropriate license.
What references do you have?
You have probably already looked at a contractor’s online reviews before you even contact them. Most contractors can provide you with additional references that can help you make your decision. The contractor should be able to show you similar work they’ve completed, whether in person or through pictures. While contacting the previous customer may not be an option, even pictures can help you see if the contractor’s style is one you want on your property.
Remember when looking at reviews that you will almost certainly see one or two negative reviews mixed in. This is not necessarily a sign of poor quality. As with any other business, there are always some customers who can’t be pleased, so look at the big picture of all reviews before you make a decision based on one.
There are other questions you should ask, such as how much the contractor estimates for the work and when to expect completion of the project. It is important to have a good idea of the contractor’s work ethic and quality, as well as whether they’re willing to work with you on budget or any other specific considerations you have.
The right contractor will be aware of your needs from project start to finish, and you’ll feel comfortable having them on your property. At Nature Bridges, we do everything we can to consider the structure, the environment, and you in our work.