Should You Hire a Contractor to Build Your Deck?

There’s nothing quite like sitting down on your deck to enjoy a cup of coffee, a meal al fresco, or just to take in the scenery. Outdoor living spaces can add significant square footage to your home and are a popular, sought-after feature for homeowners and buyers alike. If you have already decided that you want an outdoor space of your very own, your next decision is a big one: should you hire a contractor to build your deck or do it yourself?

As with any home improvement project, there are different levels of complexity. A simple deck, built just off the ground, that does not require stairs or any complicated specs, would be easy for an experienced DIY-er with some patience, tools, and access to informational videos. It could be built, and ultimately finished with outdoor deck stain, relatively quickly. 

But, as decks get higher off the ground and more complex, a working knowledge of local building codes, permitting processes, special equipment or materials, and safety measures can make all the difference in the world.  

Advantages to Hiring a Professional

There are many advantages to hiring a professional for your deck. 

You Pay for Experience

Professionals have done this before. Simply put, your deck is probably not their first project. When you pay a professional for a construction project, you are also paying them for their experience. They have likely done previous projects and have extensive knowledge about the best materials, methods, and approaches. 

If you have never built a deck before, you can count on learning some important lessons the hard way. These mistakes can cost you time, money, and material. A contractor has already learned those lessons.

A Professional Can Do It Faster

A contractor can likely work more quickly than you can. This is meant with no offense to our seasoned DIY readers, but a contractor will be able to work more quickly, with fewer mistakes, than the average homeowner.

They are professionals who have honed their skills over years and can spend dedicated time moving your project towards completion. They have already made, and learned from, their mistakes. 

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Contractors Have Skilled Teams

Contractors capable of building a more complex deck typically bring another set of skilled hands to get the job done. In this instance, the work is done in half the time with plenty of attention to detail. Two professionals are better than one!

They Already Have the Tools

Building a deck will require tools for measuring, tools to excavate the area (in some cases, an excavator may be required), pry bars, wrenches, power tools like a circular saw, jigsaw, tablesaw, and more, a nail gun, a compressor, and sanding tools. Not to mention, you’ll need a vehicle capable of carrying large amounts of lumber and material from the store to your house.

Unless you already have these on hand, or a good friend to borrow them from, the cost of renting or purchasing additional tools can wipe out any cost savings you’re realizing by building the deck yourself.

Relationships with Vendors

Contractors are used to purchasing large amounts of material. They likely already have relationships with local or national vendors, like US Lumber, or supply houses where they are getting the best price and quality.

Contractors Warranty Their Work

If you build your deck, and you aren’t happy with the final product, you don’t have much recourse. But, if a professional contractor is responsible, not only are they motivated to get it right the first time, but they are also responsible if something goes wrong with their workmanship.  

It’s Not Just Building the Deck

It’s not just about building the deck–once in place, the wood must be sanded, sealed, and stained with outdoor deck stain. This is a time consuming process that requires a high level of attention to detail. If not properly weatherproofed, you risk structural issues or rot.

It’s a Safer Choice

A project like a deck doesn’t just require access to power tools; it also requires a high level of proficiency in operating table saws, sanding tools, moving heavy materials, and possibly operating heavy equipment. Contractors also carry their own insurance in case of an on-site accident because taking on a deck project can be risky.

If you are building an above-ground deck, you may also be working at heights that can cause injury in the event of a fall. Proper safety precautions should be taken regardless of if you choose to DIY or hire out for the job.

Time to Decide: Will you DIY or hire out? 

Building your own deck requires access to material, equipment, and of course, your own construction savvy. It can take a tremendous amount of time and present safety risks to you. If you are trying to fit permitting and a major construction project around your day job or family commitments, you risk dragging out the project or worse, not completing it at all.

Homeowners who would like to be involved while still contracting out a bulk of the work can always inquire with their contractor if they can help with the project, taking on tasks like picking up material, obtaining tools, or helping lay planks once the structure of the deck is in place.

While it can be incredibly rewarding to build your own deck, knowing when to call in the professionals for more complex structures will get your project done more quickly, safely, and effectively.

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