How to Start a Deck Construction Business
Description of Job
• Consult with clients about design and materials for decks, and prepare detailed plans and a price quote.
• Obtain all necessary permits for construction.
• Purchase materials and build decks.
• Arrange for any necessary inspections after completion and confirm recording of approvals.
The Need and Demand for this Business
In days gone by, nearly every house had a large front porch where families would sit after dinner and exchange small talk with neighbors and passersby. With the advent of suburbs, the front porch moved to the backyard and became a comfort- able wooden deck.
In many parts of the country there is a strong market for new or expandedDECK CONSTRUCTION 47
decks. Construction of a ground-level or slightly raised deck is a relatively sim- ple construction project.
Challenges faced by Deck Construction Business
Stay close to the ground, at least at the start of this business. Building a second- story or higher deck requires advanced design and the use of lengthy load-bearing girders, beams, or supports, which will greatly increase your exposure to liability claims.
In many localities you will need to obtain a building permit before construc- tion and seek approval from an inspector afterward. You may also have to con- form to local regulations about size and design of structures.
The most difficult jobs involve work on soft or sloping ground. You’ll also have to deal with extremes of temperature and environment in some parts of the country.
What You Need To Know About This Business
Learn the basics of deck construction from available books, web sites, and plans. Among important concepts: proper installation of concrete footings or founda- tions; specification and use of pressure-treated lumber; and proper protection against rot, splitting, and insect infestation.
You’ll need to prepare a plan for construction so you can show the design to your customers, seek building permits, and order materials. Pressure-treated and manufactured deck boards come in standard lengths and widths that should be adaptable to most jobs; the simplest and least expensive jobs are built using read- ily available dimensions.
Advanced designs add railings, benches, and other wooden features. You may also be called on to integrate lighting and electrical outlets into the deck; in most localities you’ll need to work with a licensed electrician for such features.
If the plans call for creation of a new exit from the home to the deck, you may want to partner with an experienced contractor or carpenter for that part of the job.
How to Get Started with Deck Construction Business
Place flyers and ads in community centers and home supply stores. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.
Make your services known to existing contractors who may refer small jobs to you; you can offer them a commission. Ask satisfied customers to recommend you to friends and acquaintances; offer a bonus or discount for business they bring to you.
Offer to teach a class about small construction projects at a community school; this may yield some publicity and clients.
You’ll need commercial-grade tools, including a circular saw, power drill, ham- mer, levels, safety goggles, and mask. For construction of concrete footings or foundations, you’ll need a wheelbarrow and hoses for making concrete.
Building supply companies should be able to deliver lumber to your con- struction site; you will need a station wagon or small truck to haul your equip- ment to and from jobs.
How Much to Charge For This Service
You should quote a price for the job that includes your time plus the cost of lum- ber and hardware, including connectors, nails, and screws. Base your price on your cost—if the customer asks for special lumber or other features you need to take that into account.
Your price should include amortization of tools and your vehicle, plus a por- tion of the cost of insurance.
Legal and Insurance Issues
➀ Legal ➁ Legal ➂ Legal ➃ Accounting ➄ Insurance