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STEP 1 - Where to Begin

A deck system is a complex combination of elements, the success of which depends on the quality of materials, installation and overall construction. Referrals are the first source for names of credible companies. Ask friends and family members who they have used in the past. Contact your state and local licensing authorities, and trade associations, such as North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), or National Association of Remodelers (NARI), about deck builders who are active in the community.

NOTE: Some states have regulations that govern the making of referrals to a service provider. Check to make sure that the way you provide referrals does not cause you to take on unnecessary liability. Some states require the referral of at least three service providers any time referrals are given.

STEP 2 - Meeting and Evaluating Potential Contractors

After you have compiled a list of possible deck builders take some time to evaluate each one carefully. Set up a preliminary meeting to discuss your needs and their qualifications. Pay close attention to the attitude of the builder. Good builders take pride in their work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of creating a reciprocal relationship. Ask to see a portfolio, and some samples of the decking and railing materials they prefer to use.

STEP 3 - Get Some Background Information

Experience: The training and experience of a deck builder, as well as the age of his or her company, will help you determine their ability to successfully work with you.

Licensing: Some states require special licensing for deck builders. Ask for business license numbers. Then check with local authorities to see that the company complies with regulations.

Insurance Coverage: A deck builder should carry worker's compensation and general liability insurance. Request the name and address of the insurance carrier, along with a copy of the company's insurance certificate.

Professional References: Your deck builder's past can help determine your future. Ask for credit references, banking information and a list of completed projects, including the names and telephone numbers of previous clients. Find out if the builder stands behind his work.

STEP 4 - Work with the Deck Builder to Create a Long Term Relationship

What's in It for Me? Establish what each of you wants out of the relationship, i.e. the builder wants qualified leads, and you want a builder you can trust to provide good quality workmanship. Do you also want a percentage of each job? Does the builder want something for referring his clients to your store?

Educate Each Other: You don't know all the ins and outs of deck building and maintenance, and the builder doesn't know about the products you carry. An understanding of each other's business will go a long way toward guarantying that the cross references you send each other are worthwhile.

North American Deck and Railing Association
P.O. Box 829, Quakertown, PA 18951
Phone and Fax: 888.NADRA4U (888.623.7248)

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