Our biggest – and most costly – project of this summer is replacing our deck. We’re only two days into it, and I’ve already learned quite a few things.
- Make a plan upfront. We decided to replace our deck last winter, and since we live in
the frozen tundraupstate New York, there’s a limited window of time when such a project can be done. To cut costs, my husband decided to dismantle the deck himself. Knowing this would take quite a while, he started in April. But we didn’t start the process of contacting contractors, gathering estimates, and selecting materials, until mid-May. At that point, we learned many contractors have already started filling their schedules. For a couple of weeks, it looked like we’d be spending the entire summer without a deck. Now I know to allow plenty of time to find a contractor at the outset of a project.
- Contractors are not always as professional we might like. My husband spoke with five contractors about our deck, and four came to take measurements and provide estimates. Only three of them ever got back to him with their estimates. One of them eventually declined the job, and offered to provide the names of other contractors he would recommend. We never heard from him again. One gave a firm date by which he’d get his estimate to us, and missed it by five days. One scheduled a call to discuss the job with my husband and didn’t actually call until four hours later. My expectations for contractors have definitely been adjusted.
- Expect unanticipated costs. Anyone who’s spent more than a nanosecond watching HGTV knows that there are ALWAYS unexpected costs once a home building or renovation project has begun. We’ve been lucky thus far, but even two days into this project, demolition has taken twice as long as was estimated, and a couple of support pieces that we intended to save have turned out to be rotten and need to be replaced.
The deck is supposed to be finished at some time next week, and I can’t wait to set up my lounge chair, grab my summer reading list, and kick back with an iced tea.
Do you have big home projects planned for this summer? How have your experiences working with contractors been?