BBB Tip: Plan Your Outdoor Project Carefully

Measure Twice, Cut Once:  Plan Your outdoor Project

outdoor patioAdding a deck or patio or taking on a landscaping project can improve your property and add value to your home. As with any home improvement project, you’ll want to go about things in an organized fashion. 

Home improvement projects can be very intensive and lead to short-term inconvenience, so make sure you have a solid plan in place. Here are some tips from Better Business Bureau to help guide you through your project:

Decide what you want from your finished project.
Some people are able to outline how they want their home or yard to look at the end of a project. Others look to experts to help them create a design. The old saying ‘measure twice and cut once’ holds true. Collecting more ideas and estimates will help you pick the design that suits you best and give you a good idea of the cost of your project. Remember, lowball estimates are sometimes a red flag.

Check their track records. has free Business Profiles.  Look up companies and read customer complaints and reviews. You can also use BBB’s online directory to search for BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and location.

Make sure they’re licensed.
Ask all companies for proof of liability and workers compensation insurance and the appropriate licenses.  Check your local laws for any regulations regarding the work you are having done.  Contractors should be responsible for obtaining all necessary permits, not you, but you should research what’s required and make sure your contractor is following the rules.

Experience counts.
Most contractors are highly skilled, but for a deck or patio project, you might want to look for contractors who focus on these specialties. It’s always a good idea to ask for references and follow up on those references to make sure they’re valid.

Get everything in writing.
Demand a written contract from anyone you hire. It should detail the planned project, the necessary materials, and the price breakdown for both work and materials. Any verbal promises should be written into the contract, along with any warranties on materials or labor.

Check your local laws for guidance about liens and waivers
You’ll want to be sure that your contractor has paid all suppliers and subcontractors when the work is done so you don’t end up owing anybody money.  Check your local laws to see what is required in this regard and what your contractor should provide.

By doing your planning, budgeting and research upfront, and choosing a contractor you can depend on, you’ll be a long way towards a successful project and many relaxing evenings to follow.

Last reviewed:  January 24, 2017