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Decks, Fences and Porches: A Guide on Getting the Best Person for the Job

A common home improvement project is building a new deck, fence or porch for your home. Some people do this on their own, but it's also a very often performed by a contractor.  

Many homeowners DO have the skills necessary to roll up their sleeves and make a deck, fence or porch a successful do-it-yourself project. "Homeowners who have some carpentry experience, or are good with their hands and want to create some sweat equity might want to consider building themselves, says Andy Merz of Frontier Deck Builders of Finksburg, Maryland. "If they think they want to, but aren't sure, it may be worth paying for a professional to come out for a few hours and consult with them, to make sure they aren't getting in over their heads."

However, know what you are getting into. "If they opt to do it themselves, they should be aware that working a regular job and then coming home to work on house projects can be a daunting task," says Merz. Be sure you don't overwhelm yourself with a task you regret taking on; there are times when hiring a professional is the best course of action.

What Should You Look For?
When looking for a contractor to build a deck, fence or porch, take the same precautions as you would any other building project. "Look for experience, great references that span at least for to five years, no lawsuits, no complaints with any counties or building commissions, and a complete level of emotional comfort with the person you hire," says Merz.

Make sure you interview several different contractors for the job, and check the contract carefully for a warranty.

How About Materials?
The number one thing that homeowners must avoid is cheap materials. "Most people these days are opting for composites and vinyl, which are way more expensive then wood, but require much less maintenance," says Merz. "With composites and vinyl railings, you get what you pay for, and the cheaper the cost, the cheaper the material."

You also want to take appearance into account. Says Merz, "The best way to start is to go to a major composite supplier in your area, look at all the various materials, and pick two or three that you like the appearance of.  After selecting a few you like, go online and research the products: positives, negatives, complaints, etc."

If you use quality materials and hire a trustworthy contractor, the entire process should go smoothly." Contractors are responsible for acquiring the permit and doing the whole job, including complete clean up of the job site every day, all necessary inspections, and doing a perfect job," says Merz.

Doing a thorough interview with your contractor and having an iron clad contract will assure they do exactly that.

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and

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