Properly built and maintained decks and porches not only increase the aesthetic appeal of your home while serving recreational and relaxation purposes, but also increase its monetary value. Over 30% of American house hunters say decks and porches are the most important feature they look out for in a house and are willing to spend an additional $3,300 above their budget for these features.
However, these structures are generally more exposed to the elements than other parts of your home, therefore require more regular maintenance and repair. The North American Deck and Railing Association estimates that over 50% of the more than 60 million decks installed in the United States currently require some form of repair or replacement. Such repairs should be swift as the compromised structural integrity of these decks/porches poses a huge risk to your family. Between 2016 and 2019, failed and collapsed decks and porches accounted for over 2,900 injuries.
Hiring a professional decking/porch repair contractor near you ensures that any damage to your deck or porch is expertly fixed, thereby preventing possible collapse and saving you the cost of dealing with fall-related injuries. To make sure that you hire the right decking/porch repair contractor nearby, you should ask the following questions:
Are You a Licensed Decking/Porch Repair Contractor?
Even though decking/porch repair contractors are not typically issued specialized licenses, many states mandate a decking/porch repair contractor to hold a general or home improvement license. In states like California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, a carpentry contractor license may suffice for repair works on wooden decking/porch. Note, in jurisdictions like New York, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Colorado, where a state-level license is not available, contractor licensing is usually handled at the county, city, and municipality level.
You should always contact your state's consumer protection office or the local licensing department office near you to find out the specific licensing requirements for decking/porch repair contractors in your area. Make sure that the decking/porch repair contractor you intend to hire meets all these requirements, and also confirm the validity of this contractor's license with any of these offices.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Decking/Porch Repair Contractor?
Decking/porch repair contractors stand a high-risk of fall-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of all falls lead to serious injuries like broken bones, and more than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year as a result of these types of injuries. In 2019, 880 of the fatal work-related injuries recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics were due to falls, slips, and trips. When hiring a decking/porch repair contractor, it is important to protect yourself financially by making sure that this contractor is insured and bonded. Making the mistake of hiring a deck/porch repair contractor near you without properly vetting this contractor's insurance and bonding status exposes you to potential lawsuits and losses if an injury occurs during the repair project. It also leaves you having to bear any losses that may arise if your contractor fails to properly complete your repair job per any terms that were agreed upon.
Always ask for copies of your contractor's insurance and bonding certificates and make sure that they are valid and all premiums are paid up. Decking/porch repair contractors are generally required to have general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. Note that insurance and bonding requirements vary by state, and so it is a good idea to find out the specific requirements for your area of residence by contacting your local consumer protection office.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Even though decks and porches serve similar purposes and are generally made from the same types of materials, there are a few subtle differences between them. In many cases, decks are uncovered, open-air platforms and exterior structures that are usually attached to a home, while porches are typically covered enclosures or partially enclosed outdoor spaces built as part of the home's structure.
Professional decking/porch repair contractors are typically capable of fixing both decks and porches. Nevertheless, it is never a good idea to make this assumption when hiring a contractor to fix your deck or porch. Always confirm that your decking/porch repair contractor is adept at not only fixing the type of outdoor space you have in your home but can also handle the type of decking material that this structure is made of. The most commonly used decking materials for decks and porches are listed below:
- Aluminum decking: this decking material is long-lasting, slip-resistant, and relatively easy to install. It also has the advantage of being resistant to damage from insects. However, aluminum decking is generally more expensive than other types of decking.
- Brick decking: brick decking is relatively heavier than other decking materials and is mostly only used for porches that are made entirely from brick, stone, and concrete materials.
- Composite decking: composite decking is made from a mixture of wood and plastic. It is long-lasting, easy to maintain, and can be used in different climates.
- Plastic/PVC decking: this type of decking has the advantage of being rot, scratch, and stain-resistant, making it generally easier to maintain than wood decking. However, it is fairly expensive and more difficult to install or repair than other types of decking. It is also not as slip-resistant as other decking materials, prone to fading, and it cannot handle a lot of weight.
- Wood decking: wood decking offers a wider range of finishes and price options than other types of decking. However, it is the most difficult type of decking to maintain.
Who Will Do the Work?
It is important to know who will be doing the actual work when you hire a decking/porch repair contractor. Although deck and porch repair can usually be handled by a single worker, your contractor may involve an additional worker in the project. This is usually the case if your decking/porch repair contractor has an apprentice, or if the extent of the damage to your deck or porch is such that it requires a total overhaul.
Always find out the exact number of workers that will be involved in your decking/porch repair, and insist on being informed before any additional workers are involved. Also make sure that you verify the licensing, insurance, and bonding status of every worker involved in your repair project, including your decking/porch repair contractor.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
When you hire a professional contractor near you, this contractor usually offers you at least one warranty that is related to the service provided. These warranties can be implied, issued orally, or in writing, and they are legally-binding guarantees that assure you of the quality of the job the contractor performed.
Professional decking/porch repair contractors typically offer a warranty to cover their workmanship. The workmanship warranty covers the actual repair job carried out by your decking/porch repair contractor and any defects that may arise because of these repairs. Note, warranties always come with terms and conditions that include a specified period during which the warranty remains valid and circumstances under which the warranty may be voided during this period. As such, it is always a good idea to request a written copy of any warranty that your decking/porch repair contractor offers you.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
A building permit is usually required for projects that will result in a significant structural change to your home. Whether or not you will need a permit to carry out decking/porch repair heavily depends on your location and the type of repair involved. For example, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, you do not need a permit to repair decking on exterior decks and porches while in the City of Blaine, Minnesota, you need a permit for all types of deck repair except for freestanding decks that are less than 30 inches above adjacent grade and do not have a door exiting onto them. In the Town of Truckee, California, you do not need a permit to replace less than 66 square feet of deck boards. In the City of Beaverton, Oregon, you do not need a permit to work on decks that are less than 30 inches above adjacent grade at any point or on covered porches where the covered portion of the porch is more than three feet away from property lines
Professional decking/porch repair contractors are usually knowledgeable regarding the permit requirements of the areas that they are licensed to operate and the procedures for obtaining these permits. You can also find out the decking/porch repair permit requirements for your area of residence by contacting the local building or city planning department near you.
Will You Provide References?
Before you hire any decking/porch repair contractor, always ask for a list of references. You may request the contractor to include satisfied clients living near you. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that this list should contain the names and contact details of at least three of the contractor's past clients. You can also ask your decking/porch repair contractor for â€˜before and after' pictures of completed jobs. Finally, you can search for reviews and testimonials on any contractor that you intend to hire through third-party websites like Google Review, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.
Do You Have a Business License?
Small businesses, including decking/porch installation and repair businesses, make up nearly 100% of all registered businesses in the United States. These businesses are typically required to obtain a business license that permits them to conduct business in a specified area. Before you hire any decking/porch repair contractor, always make sure that this contractor is legally authorized to conduct business in your area of residence. You can do this by requesting a copy of the contractor's business license and validating it with your local Secretary of State's office.
What Are Common Decking/Porch Problems?
The most commonly reported decking/porch problems are:
- Warped decking
- Water damage
- Wood rot
- Cracked decking
- Loose decking
- Gaps in decking
- Mold and mildew growth
- Insect infestation
- Presence of holes
How Much Does Decking/Porch Repair Cost?
Decking/porch repair in the United States costs an average of $1,000 â€“ $1,500. This amount can go as low as $200 or as high as $5,000, depending on factors like the type of damage to your deck or porch and the type of decking material that it is made of. Some common decking/porch repair cost estimates are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Decking/Porch Repair?
The cost of decking/porch repair is primarily influenced by the following factors:
What Qualifications Should Decking/Porch Repair Contractors Have?
Individuals that wish to become decking/porch repair contractors are not typically required to have any form of formal education. Nonetheless, many decking/porch repair contractors are educated up to the high school level at least, and have either a high school certificate or a GED. Decking/porch repair contractors generally learn on the job through employer-provided training and apprenticeships. Some of these contractors also obtain professional certifications from trade associations like the North American Deck and Railing Association.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Decking/Porch Repair Contractor?
Considering the high risk of deck or porch failure and collapse if your decking/porch is not properly fixed, it is always in your best interest to hire a professional decking/porch repair contractor. These contractors are specially trained and experienced in fixing all types of decking/porch damages and ensuring that the structural integrity of these outdoor spaces is preserved. On the other hand, handymen do not have any specialized knowledge regarding these types of repairs. Instead, they are jacks of all trades that are better suited to handle household odd-jobs like fixing light fixtures and minor drywall repair. Professional decking/porch repair contractors also have the advantage of being insured and bonded, thereby protecting you from work-related financial losses. Note that you should always verify the insurance and bonding status of any decking/porch repair contractor near you that you intend to hire before signing the contract.
What Are the Common Post Decking/Porch Repair Expenses?
Although decking/porch repair is typically done to maintain the structural integrity of your deck or porch, it may generate some post-repair expenses. For example, your repair job may generate a large amount of debris. The cost of disposing of this debris is usually included in the total cost of the project, but some decking/porch repair contractors may charge you separately for this, especially if the debris generated is larger than expected. Before you commence any decking/porch repair, confirm from your contractor whether the cost of waste disposal will be incorporated into your bill estimate or whether a separate bill will be issued for this.
Other common post decking/porch repair expenses include the costs of washing and cleaning, staining and sealing, and painting your deck or porch. Professional washing and cleaning will cost you between $10 and $30 per cleaning, staining and sealing will cost you between $2 and $10 per square foot, while painting will cost you between $1 - $3 per square foot.
Finally, you can decide to enhance your repaired deck or porch by upgrading your seating, installing outdoor fireplaces and appliances like ceiling fans. The cost of doing this generally depends on the type of enhancement project you wish to undertake. Note hiring contractor near you helps reduce cost due to proximity.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Decking/Porch Repair Expenses?
Decking/porch repair expenses are covered by homeowner's insurance as long as the damage to the decking/porch was caused by a sudden and unexpected loss. However, if the damage was caused by lack of maintenance, negligence, or by a peril that is not listed in the insurance policy, then a standard homeowner's insurance policy will not cover any repair expenses.
The most common causes of property damage that are covered by many homeowners' insurance policies are water damage, fire damage, lightning damage, wind and hail damage, and theft. Collectively, these damages accounted for more than 90% of the homeowners' insurance claims that were filed annually between 2014 and 2018. Note that the specific types of losses that a homeowner's insurance policy will cover depend on the insurance company that issues this policy. Therefore, it is important for you to properly understand the terms and conditions of any insurance policy that you wish to purchase before signing up for it.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Decking/Porch Repair Contractor?
Yes, you can. Digital payments are a popular means of transactions because of their ease of use, security, speed, convenience, and instantaneous generation of transaction receipts. Note that if this is your preferred payment method, it is always a good idea to inform your decking/porch repair contractor before commencing your repair project. It is also advisable to collect a receipt for any transactions that you conduct with cash.