Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor to Build Your New Patio or Patio Cover

Posted on by Straight Line Exteriors
Patio Covers

A patio built with hardscaping pavers provides a low maintenance outdoor area. Learn what questions to ask when hiring a patio installation contractor.

When implementing a patio landscape design, the slightest mistake can ruin hours of hard work. An incorrectly installed patio can be an unsightly blight on your landscape and prone to uneven settling and drainage issues that could compromise your home’s foundation. That’s why it’s critical to choose a meticulous, expert contractor to handle your professional paver patio installation.

A reputable landscaping contractor will:

  • Ensure that your patio has a slight slope for water drainage –- about an inch for every 4 feet of patio.
  • Compact each foundation layer. Include a layer of geo-fabric between the sub-surface and the crushed stone to prevent weeds and sinking.
  • Compact the subsoil before laying the base materials.
  • Fill in the spaces between pavers with joint sand so they stay put. Top off the foundation with a layer of sand. Use edging to keep the pavers in place.
  • Top off the foundation with a layer of sand.
  • Use edging to keep the pavers in place.

As you begin the process of selecting a patio landscape design firm, asking the right questions can go a long way toward ensuring a successful project. Not only will the following questions help separate the wheat from the chaff, but they’ll also help you make a first impression as a savvy client with high expectations.

Searching for a patio or patio cover contractor can be an intimidating task. After all, we’ve all heard a horror story or two, and both the internet and local classifieds tend to be teeming with contractors claiming that their company can do the best job in quickest time for the least amount of money. Who can one believe?

The answer to that question is, in fact, no one. Not at first, at least. The best course of action is to reach out to a local contractor (preferably one with strong customer reviews and a clear history of success) and be critical. Ask the important questions and get honest answers. Knowledge really is power sometimes, and this scenario is no exception.

With that being said, here are ten important questions that we recommend asking any patio construction contractor before making a final decision.

  1. Licensure. Most states require professional contractors to have an active license through the relevant contractors’ board to perform work. You can use Angie’s List License Check tool to determine if a license is required to install a patio or patio cover in your city or state.
  2. Experience. Find out what this contractor has done in the past. Do you really want to trust a company with no real experience? For some people living in areas with few options, who find themselves on a very tight budget, perhaps the answer is yes. Most of the time, however, you will find that experience and affordability can go hand in hand, and this almost inevitably leads to better results for you, the customer.
  3. Permissions. Assuming your contractor has any amount of experience working in your area, they will probably have the answers to a few important questions that may be time-consuming to look up on your own. What kinds of permissions (if any) are needed to construct patio covers or outdoor living spaces in your area? If you will be needing documentation and permission, does the contractor expect you to take care of this yourself, or will they lend a helping hand? These questions can help you learn valuable information, and they may help you differentiate between potential candidates, as well.
  4. Insurance policies and worker’s comp. Does this contractor carry insurance that will cover any potential damages that occur on-site? If the answer is no, you could be putting yourself at risk for costly damage that your contract can’t cover. Does your contractor offer worker’s comp to the people it hires? Because construction will be taking place on your property, there is a chance that you could end up being the person legally liable for paying medical bills if someone gets hurt, so this is another important question to consider.
  5. Awards and Organizations. Does this contractor belong to any formal organizations? Has the company won any awards or accolades? If the answers to any of these questions are yes, it could be an important indicator of legitimacy and success. If the answer is no, on the other hand, it may be a bad sign: though some good customer references may make up for it to a certain extent. Which leads us neatly into the fifth point:
  6. References and Reviews. What kind of customer feedback does this potential contractor boast? If they aren’t showing it off, it’s probably because they don’t want you to see what has been said about their services! Ideally, your contractor of choice should show both customer testimonials and actual footage of projects that they have completed in the past.
  7. Timeline. How long does the contractor believe your job will take?  Are that contractor’s jobs typically completed on schedule? What are the contractual consequences if the contract fails to finish on time? Ideally, your job should be completed in a very timely yet reasonable manner: any answer that does not fit within both of those parameters should be viewed with suspicion at best.
  8. Time and materials policy. Will you be on the hook for additional costs if the project takes longer than anticipated, or if material costs are higher than imagined? Ideally, of course, the answer to the question should be either no, or only to a minimum extent.
  9. Daily work schedule. What time will the project be worked upon? Knowing this is important for several reasons. It matters for the obvious end of simply knowing when people are going to be at your house! Additionally, it allows you to gauge the level of professionalism with which this company operates: are the hours logical and consistent? If not, it could be a warning sign.
  10. Payment schedule. How and when will payments be made? The contract is (justly) going to want some amount paid up front, however, beware of anyone who wants the entire amount paid before the job is done–this takes away quite a bit of your leverage in the situation.

Construct the backyard patio cover of your dreams with a little help from Straight Line Exteriors.  We have both the practical experience and the precise know-how needed to get the job done quickly, affordably, and effectively.

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