Last May, my husband and I took the plunge and re-did our deck. It was scary to think about shelling out all that money. And since this was the first home improvement project we tackled since we bought the house in 1997, we really didn’t know what we were doing. We did some research, but we were still kind of lost.
The easy part was signing the papers, and handing over the check. Or so we thought. Turns out we should have asked a lot more questions, both about the home improvement center and their independent contractor. It would have made the last year a lot easier. The project did make a big difference in the way the house looks. You can see here:
It really changes the look of the outdoor space! And makes you want to sit outside and relax. I can’t wait to put my furniture outside and relax when I can. I just wished I would have done more research and knew the right questions to ask. It could have avoided a lot of hassle and grief this Spring.
But back to the present. We were outside a few days ago, and notice the skirting(the piece of trim that covers the baseboard was peeling off! After less than a year?!?! I will show you what I mean.
Not good, eh? There were also problems with the post caps popping off, and other boards pulling away. As you can imagine, we were not happy. After a few phone calls, and lots of stress, our contractor came out on Monday and fixed every single problem. Well, after I had to get a bit grumpy.
I want others to learn from what happened to us. That way, if you have a deck project, or any other home improvement project done, you can go in prepared, and know the right questions to ask.
For the home improvement center:
- What is a reasonable time frame for back-ordered products? And if there is a delay, will we be notified? Is there an alternative product available? Ours was on back-order for several months. They tried to keep us informed, but sometimes it was a little condescending. I don’t like being treated like an ignorant child.
- How and where do you plan to put the materials? When we received our materials, they were delivered by a single older gentleman. He then proceeded to dump $6000 of materials on our front lawn. We live on a main street. With lots of traffic. When I questioned him, he got snippy. And when I called the home improvement center(okay, it is Lowe’s), I was told that there was no one else available and they were “sorry”. Thankfully we have good neighbors who helped keep an eye on the materials while we were away at a game.
- What can you tell me about the contractor? Can I see his credentials? Previous projects? The trouble with Lowe’s is they use independent contractors, so you never know who you will get. Before you sign anything or hand over any money, tell them you want a name. And then check him out.
- Where will the materials come from? Greater distance=bigger chance of damages. A few pieces came in damaged, but they replaced them before they sent them to our house. See if they can get the materials from a local warehouse.
For the contractor:
- What are you using to fasten the materials? Nails? Screws? Anchors?
- What kind of glue are you using? They used silicone on ours, and it did not work well. Find that out ahead of time.
- How can you be contacted in case there is a problem? And get numbers.
- Where did his experience come from? Does he know how to use these materials? With our deck, we were one of the first to have the invisible anchors. And apparently we were the second deck he used them on, and he freely admitted he wasn’t comfortable with the process…yet.
I admit, the contractor was good for the most part, don’t get me wrong. And he came out and responded to both our requests for repairs. But I was a little put off that we said “he did something wrong”. That wasn’t what we said, we just said things needed to be fixed. Little warning bells are ringing that he was so defensive. But, he came out and fixed everything with a pleasant attitude and explained exactly what he did to make the repairs. So I am okay with that.
One thing to add: do not be afraid to contact your home improvement center if you are not happy with the product. Most things come with a guarantee, but don’t hesitate to contact them after the warranty has expired. You put the money into the project, don’t forget to get what services you paid for.