As a contractor, you’ve handled more than your fair share of home improvement projects. From remodeling bathrooms to adding bedrooms, you have the skills and the equipment to finish most jobs and do them well. So when a client hires you to complete a deck, make sure you ask them these questions before you start the project to save you hours of hassle, frustration, and upset further down the line.
1. Why Do You Want a Deck?
A standard deck is more than wooden flooring that extends living space outdoors. Depending on its design, a deck could fulfill a variety of needs, purposes, and applications.
For example, the deck could serve as an extension of the kitchen, creating an exciting space for barbecues and outdoor ovens. Or the deck could provide some extra privacy in the yard, shielding the family from nosy neighbors. Some people may want their deck to act as a personal garden, giving plenty of room for potted herbs and trellis plants to grow. Others may prefer to host parties on their deck or use the space to surround a pool or spa.
Your design and plans will likely need to change to better accommodate your client’s intended purpose, so don’t hesitate to work with the family as you draw up a few ideas.
2. How Do You Plan to Access the Deck?
Many homes already have a back door that allows family members to easily access the yard. In general, most customers will want to build their deck leading up to this door.
However, not all homes have a convenient back entrance, and some families may prefer that their deck connects to the kitchen rather than their living room. In these instances, you’ll need to make adjustments to ensure the transition between spaces is seamless. If the client has a multi-story home, you’ll need to know whether the deck will meet the main floor, or if you should build a tiered deck that leads to the upper floor.
Once you know how to access the deck, you can then lay more concrete plans that flow more naturally with the home’s current look and design.
3. How Much Maintenance Can You Perform?
Wood decks look classy, and they improve the home’s resale value. The right wood can make a deck look more like a work of art than a simple, sturdy, and functional outdoor space.
However, you should inform homeowners that wood materials require more maintenance. Wood decks need regular sealing to retain their natural color and strength. And if your clients have a specific color in mind, they’ll need to sand and repaint their deck periodically to ensure it looks its best.
If the homeowners don’t have the energy or time to maintain their deck, you’ll want to recommend alternatives that better fit their lifestyle, such as PVC decking. PVC decking can look like wood but doesn’t require nearly as much maintenance to stay in great shape.
Once you know what the client feels comfortable with, you can purchase appropriate materials and supplies to finish the project.
4. What Budget Do You Have to Work With?
You already know that your clients will pay you for your services, but you might not know how much they may be willing to pay, or how much they can even afford.
As you discuss their hopes and concerns with their deck, don’t forget to give them an approximate pricing for different plans and materials. Wood decking, for example, usually costs more than PVC decking. A tiered deck and sliding door installation will likely cost more than a simple deck that connects to the back door.
When you have the right budget in mind, you can recommend where your customers can compromise on materials and save money, and where they should spend a little extra to make it a project they absolutely love.
Keep the Communication Lines Open
These are just a few questions you should ask before you start your build. But if you want to ensure customer satisfaction, keep the communication lines open. Let your clients know your plans for each step of the process, and you’ll both love the final results.