Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kaile's Korner "Hit the deck with the right contractor"

Are you ready to solve the seemingly age-old issue of how to hire a knowledgeable contractor? Knowing how to select a knowledgeable contractor is not as difficult to do as you might think. Asking questions of a potential contractor is one thing; asking the right questions is the secret to success. I have been around the construction industry a long time and have seen every hustle a contractor can give a homeowner. It’s not right, and now I am going to teach you how to put yourself on equal footing with any contractor you interview. 

Since decks spring up everywhere in the spring, let’s use building a deck as an example when interviewing a contractor. Building a deck is like painting a room: every contractor thinks he/she can do the task well. From my experience, the truth is only about half of the contractors in the industry can do the stated tasks well. Now, here is how you select from the best and not fall prey to the rest. 

Call your local building code officer for free advice and get the answer to these four questions: 

(1) What is the maximum allowable space between my handrail balusters? If you are unfamiliar with balusters, they are sometimes known by the less informed as upright slats. The answer should be no more than 4-inches.

(2) What is the maximum amount of variation from the top of one step to the next? For your information, steps should not vary more than one-quarter inch in height from one step to the next. 

(3) What is the height requirement for the top of handrails? Just that you know, the answer will vary based on which level of building, etc.

(4) What size framing should your new deck have? This answer is based on the width of the proposed deck.

Ask the contractors for the answers during your interview. If they do not know the answers before building your deck, chances are good they will not know them when building your deck. The wrong contractors will be put-off by your taking them to task. It is better to know what they do, or do not know, before being under contract with them.

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