Life is full of choices. I think today we have more choices in front of us than ever before because of the broken barriers to obtaining just about anything we want from anywhere in the world without difficulty. Think about it … Jobs, friends, material things, food choices, destinations and the list goes on. I think life was simpler when there were less options available. Now you can look at a million pictures on the Internet to choose what you think you want to duplicate on your own house. That causes problems for a company like ours for a few reasons.
Indecision from Too many choices that would work so people often become paralyzed with choosing one. In some cases they want to know about each one that you could take weeks just to provide a quote for each one and that is not really an expectation one should be placing on their contractor. Tell your contractor what amount you would be open to spending, they can then limit your vast selection of million dollar pictures down to a group.
Select your top two from the remaining group and then ask about the pros and cons. This should then help with selecting the right one for your budget.
Just because you saw it in a picture or on TV doesn’t mean it meets building code in your area or that it can be done given a different application.
How to avoid this misconception? Ask your contractor of it will meet code or if it requires additional costs to make it work.
Just because another contractor is quoting the same job doesn’t mean they are going to use the same techniques or material grade.
When to ask? Get a written quote, it should specify the key elements that would be used for your project. We have seen quite often where contractors are using short cuts or minimum building code materials to obtain the job because they know they can do it fast and for less cost. Pay particular attention to the amount of gravel used to build a base for laying stone or concrete pavers. Your contractor should be able to tell you the thickness required for newly built homes versus older homes as well as the difference for rock thickness/weight.
Another common issue is post installs for decks, fences or signs. Your contractor needs to go below the frost line with the hole and also tell you what product will hold the post up. Some contractors are not digging the 4′ nor and they are simply pouring a bag of concrete and throwing water on it and calling the hole done. This will cause the post to be unstable and you will find the need to fix it again within a short period of time.
For decks what is the material for the framing and decking? Is it the minimum code or does it exceed the code? Usually the materials just meeting code will cause a squeaky deck with more sway. Also if it is really close to the ground how is the contractor ensuring the moisture isn’t going to rot out your new deck?
There are lots of trends to choose from, stay away from choosing an item just because you see it so many places that it seems like the thing to do.
How to stay away from trends? Ask the longevity of the choice you are about to make and ask yourself if you will like it for that long and if it suits your lifestyle. Maybe it requires a lot of maintenance which you have neither the time, energy or money to invest. Maybe choosing a trend for a high value project isn’t a wise idea if you know that you will need to redo it again before it needs done. Be honest with yourself versus falling into the “keeping up with the Jones” trap.
At the end of the day, you should choose the right blend of cost, quality, suitability and longevity for your projects and you will be happier in the choice you made.