When you’re ready to build, improve, or add to your outdoor living space, the next step is to find a patio or brick paving contractor who is right for you. Using a search engine to find professionals near you is one place to start, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you work your way through the list. Here’s what you need to know to find the right contractor for your project.

Where to Begin

The first step of any project is to begin sketching out what you want to accomplish. You may not know all the details of what you’re looking for, or you may need professional advice to finalize your plans. Still, even if you’re not sure of all the details, begin by creating a rough drawing or a list of needs and wants. For example, whether it’s important to use natural stone or if artificial brick pavers are acceptable.

A simple Google search may return dozens of companies that seem like they might be a good fit. On the other hand, who has the time to screen that many possibilities? Start by narrowing your list based on the feedback you get from your friends, neighbors, colleagues, or online conversations. Once you have a manageable list, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Contacting Potential Contractors

Now that you have a handful of potential deck and patio builders on your list, it’s time to schedule a few consultations and estimates. Many of the questions you have will have to wait until after a contractor has visited your home. You can save valuable time and effort by asking these questions over the phone:

  • Can they do the type of work you are requesting? This is where your list or sketch will come in handy.
  • Are they available in the time frame you need the project completed?
  • Are they licensed? Do they carry worker’s compensation and liability insurance? Do they hold any additional licensure or coverage dictated by your local laws? If so, make sure you receive documentation and contact agencies and boards to verify before proceeding with any work.

The general rule of thumb is to schedule at least three estimates, especially if you’re not working with a solid recommendation from someone you trust.

What to Ask During a Consultation

The initial consultation is for more than just getting an estimate for the cost of a project; it is also for you to interview a contractor to make sure you’ll be comfortable with them working on your property. Most residential and commercial contractors will offer free estimates for work. Most will also take a few measurements and snap a few photos of the area. During the visit, here are a few things you should be asking about:

  • Time frames.

    In addition to a target completion date, you’ll also want to know at what time they will begin working each day and by what time work will be wrapped for the day. Lastly, part of your estimate should include the total amount of time needed for the entire project.

  • Who will do the work?

    Many companies will hire subcontractors for all or some of the work. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but the more people who are involved, the more complicated the project may be. If subcontractors are used, make sure there is one person who will be leading the project and will be responsible for all of the work being done.

  • Professional Input.

    Depending on the scope of your outdoor project, a number of professionals may be involved in the project. For example, if you’ll need a great deal of landscaping, it’s good to know the difference between a landscape architect and a garden designer.

  • Similar projects.

    Ask how many projects like yours they have worked on and if they can provide references for you to contact.

  • More about the company.

    How long has the company been in business? Are they members of local organizations, trade unions, or trade associations? Do their workers have special training or licensure related to the project? This would also be a good time to ask for proof of licenses and insurance.

  • Permits.

    If your city, county, or locality requires a permit for the type of work you are requesting, who is responsible for obtaining the permit? Are inspections or other formal procedures necessary for closing a permit? If so, who is responsible for coordinating inspections? What happens if a project doesn’t pass inspection?

  • Suggestions.

    Ask what their approach to your project will be. Do they find your needs and wants lists feasible? If not, what reasons do they have? It’s possible your expectations are too high, or perhaps the contractor has other reasons to believe it’s not a great idea. Do they have any suggestions or recommendations?

Reaching a Decision

While you need to find a contractor who can complete your request within the budget limitations you have, choosing the lowest bidder isn’t always the right way to go. Ultimately, you want to select the company that made you feel comfortable in every way: price, professionalism, friendliness, reputation, willingness to answer questions, and with all the proper paperwork. That way, you know you will have a completed project that you love. At Mitchell Construction, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service and results that exceed expectations. Every home is as unique as the people who live there, and we aim to deliver custom decks and patios that are as functional as they are personal and beautiful.