So 2010 is the year you’ve decided to invest in a new Outdoor Living project for your Minnesota backyard (or front yard). Maybe you’ve identified a rough budget for the project and have some basic ideas of how this new deck or porch can address your family’s functional needs. If you’re like most Minnesotans who haven’t gone through the process of making decisions on a new Outdoor Living space recently (or ever), taking the initial step can be somewhat challenging.
One of the best ways to get the most “bang for the buck” in your effort is to identify your top criteria for choosing your project contractor. At my firm, Archadeck of Hennepin County, we try to lead customers through this upfront to assess if there is a potential fit between the customer’s needs and our capabilities. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an important starting point that will dictate the success of your project as it evolves. Establishing criteria for choosing a contractor helps YOU get the best value for your investment. It not only helps you prioritize the essential attributes and needs of the project in your own mind, but it also provides a checklist to determine the “fit” between your needs and the capabilities of the diverse array of Deck & Porch builders across the Twin Cities metro.
After designing/building 75,000+ outdoor living projects across the U.S. since 1980, Archadeck has established itself as the clear leader in scope and influence for the custom deck & porch building category. In the course of building tens of thousands of projects, Archadeck has gleaned insights from customers about the key things they look for when choosing a contractor and determining which company to trust with their project. This learning has been refined over time into a list of seven attributes that Archadeck has most identified as most essential in choosing a contractor.
1. EXPERIENCE. Length of time in industry. Networks established with partners/experts. Level of knowledge in product features/benefits. Access to outside expertise/resources. Commitment to training of personnel and development of new products & services.
2. PROFESSIONALISM. Adoption/integration of best practices. Commitment to service, follow-up and follow-through. Compliance with all code requirements, permitting, inspections. Developed protocols for company operations. Strong reputation / quality of firm’s “brand”
3. PROCESS. Emphasis on understanding customer’s needs. Level of detail in site survey, functionality and project viability. Ability to provide customization in design and construction. Methodology and flow for project construction. Level of customer input & involvement.
4. CUSTOM DESIGN. Creativity and experience in structural design. Access to ideas and plans internally and from external resources. Ability to translate custom design into practical construction project. Effectiveness of renderings, drawings, plans to visualize finished product.
5. CONSTRUCTION. Detailed construction standards and benchmarks. Consistent building practices that meet/exceed code requirements. Specific methodology to track and report project progress. Attention to framing and finish carpentry that integrates into existing home.
6. SAFEGUARDS. Length and type of warranty on labor and structural. Insurance coverage for contractor and carpenters. Previous customer input/referrals. Third-party business practice references. Adherence to local code requirements and inspections.
7. VALUE. Reasonableness of the price in return for 1-6 above. Ability to enhance person’s most important investment–their own home.
Hopefully this list can help YOU to determine your own priorities for your project and who you choose to build it. By investing a little time up front to think about what’s important, you will avoid headaches down the road. This will lead to the a satisfying and rewarding project building experience because you were able to identify the right contractor who best understands you needs and can uniquely deliver on them.