Our "Competition"

This is an extension of our "Why Use Us?" page in the main menu.
Can I just put a lot of laughy emoji's here? Or is putting "competition" in quotes rude enough?

There are other "deck builders" out there, but for some reason, in this area, no one wants to elevate their game and be a true contender.

If you're looking to hire us and you've come here and found that we have "stooped to that level" and have talked bad about our competition and that turns you off, well..... I understand. But this info is here to help YOU, not to get us more business. We stay booked at least 6 months out and we do this without ever saying a bad word about anyone. So this isn't an attempt to cut the legs out from under our competition - because, as has been said, we don't really have any. This is here to keep YOU from falling victim to contractors that don't care as much about you as we do. And, selfishly, to keep us from standing on one more newly completed decks where the customer is telling us to give them a price to tear it all out and rebuild it properly.

If you're ever one of the many people I've known that have regretted wasting money with some of the contractors around here, and like them you had to spend even more to get it done right, then you'll understand why it's important we talk about who's out there.

One thing I'll be leaving on this page is this:
When getting your "3 bids" be sure and ask each contractor all the hard questions you can think to ask and make note of the answers and reactions you get. 

I welcome you to ask me ANYTHING about decks or outdoor structures!
Literally anything in the world about this industry is fair game. I won't "salesman" you; I'll be totally honest. In the rare event I don't know the answer, I'll promptly say as much and let you know that I'll find out and get back to you.

You'll be able to tell who is uncomfortable with questions and who may not be very forthright in their answers. You have discernment or you wouldn't be where you are today. Plus, you can always go look up what answers any of us gave you to see who was being honest (as long as you're looking in the right place and not on some marketing site). Even if you don't think you'll hire us, you are welcome to check with me about the answers another contractor gave you. I'll be honest in my thoughts about his answers, and I'll be extremely proud if you help me find out about another local guy who is educated and honest!

Our Competition

This is what you can end up with if you let a corner-cutter build your deck.
I can see a few things wrong in this picture, but mostly it looked fine to the untrained eye before it collapsed. The main things wrong, and the reason it failed, can't be seen in the picture (although I can tell you what they are).
*Even though it should go without saying that this isn't one of our decks, I'm going to say it just in case.

 Franchise Companies 

There are franchise companies out there you can hire. If you don't want to pay too much then you may want to avoid them because they have to pay all the things we pay (if they are legit) AND they have to pay Franchise Fees to their main company. Ask yourself what it's really doing for YOU that they are "backed by some company far away." Nothing. It does nothing for you. They are under pressure to "sell" you on something instead of being a real ally in your quest to improve your outdoor living space. In fact, as of 2024 it looks as if the two I knew of aren't even in business here anymore. And isn't that a good reason not to use any franchise in the future.... because they could pack up and no longer be here for you in the event you had an issue with their work. People that buy franchises are looking for a "lucrative business opportunity", they are not in it because they are passionate about it.

Not only that, sometimes those types of companies don't even have their own crews. They operate like general contractors and hire whatever subs (hopefully actual carpenters) are available at the time your project needs to be done. Decks are SO custom, how can they have any continuity of style and standards this way?
Plus, when you look at the photos on their website, almost none of the photos are from decks in our actual area. They are all from wherever the main, original company started. And that means that the owners/managers of the local franchise here, and their crews, are not the ones who have done any of the work you are viewing. So you aren't really getting a real representation of what you'll be paying for.

When you work directly with THE owner and operator like you do with Custom Deckworks, you know you will always have that ally. Even if I retire, I'll always be available for consults. And I have plans for my crew to take over and continue building in our same unique style. We are all Arkansas born & raised and have no intentions to leave.

 3-Bid Scammers 

There are some local guys you might want to be aware of. There are 3 of them that work together and they've changed the name of the company many times over the last 25 years. This company has a website, but the quality and creativity of it pretty much reflects the quality and creativity they put into their decks - which is not much.

I always feel that anything a carpenter or contractor builds should be as spectacular as it can be - decks, out buildings, relationships, websites, whatever. If I don't invest much time & care into your first impression of us (our website) and the portfolio of our work just looks blah, then what can you possibly expect out of the thing we'll build with your money? If a contractor can't be bothered to care about his own self enough to put his best foot forward, do you think he will actually care about you and what deck you will have to live with? These are the types of guys that say things like "Can't see it from my house" when talking to each other about the work they are doing for you.

But back to these specific three guys......
Their main trick is that they have at least two (2) other companies. They hope you'll find all three and that THEY will be the "3 bids" you get. That way no matter which one you hire, they all get the job anyway. They have helpers and they wear different hats and other little tricks to keep you from noticing that you've seen them all before. I personally think this is slimy. I think it's deceitful. Do you really want to hire anyone that has started off by lying to you? 

  The way it begins is usually the way it ends. 

We have a marketing website that has a different name than this one, but it says right on it that it's a Marketing Site for Custom Deckworks, and all the photos on it are decks built by Custom Deckworks. And when people fill out the contact form, the response comes right from ME and the same email address I use for business - chris@customdeckworks.com. We aren't hiding anything and we don't have anyone that goes to appointments to meet with people besides ME.

 House Framers 

One of the worst misconceptions is that if a guy can frame a complex house, he can surely build a simple deck. 

Au Contraire, Mon Frère!

First of all, there are almost no real carpenters left anymore. So if you go into one of these new houses being framed and really look at it, you will see that they can barely frame the house. 

"Well there are tons of Home Builders that let their framers build the decks so it must be ok!", you say.

And I say, "No. No, it's really not ok."

Again, just go look at some, compare them to ours, and see the difference. House framers are "knocking something out" for the builder, they are not helping you realize your outdoor living dream - or even caring if you will have to look at knot holes missing, bark edge on the boards, pencil lines everywhere, disarray in the nailing & bolting instead of nice patterns, and much more.

Just like how they frame the house, they do it as fast as they can - not caring what you will have to live with.

I know this because:
■  I see it in every deck a framer builds in Arkansas.
■  We get tons of calls from people right after their house was built, or they buy a newly built house, asking us to come undo what they builder had done and design something that looks nice and actually serves them.
■ Every builder we've ever built for insists on using us and not their framer for the decks on their new homes.

If you are having a house built, please get in touch with us enough in advance to be on our schedule in time, and let your builder know that YOU need to be in control of the Deck part of the budget because you have someone who will do that part. Sure, builders don't put much of a budget on the deck (that's partially why you get a crappy framer deck). But you need to plan to use whatever the builder budgeted and then some out of your pocket so you can get something that is worth your money.

Please do not let a builder use that part of the budget and have his framers build the deck, then you pay for that with interest over the next 30 years, while you then spend more out of your pocket to hire us to come tear that down and build you a real one. Please don't waste your money that way.

 Jack of all Trades 

There are TONS of these guys. Infact, most anyone around here you can find listing themselves as a "deck builder" also lists themselves as other things. This is, sadly, really everyone in Central Arkansas besides Custom Deckworks. 

Again, the main intention of these guys is to make money, not to enrich your life & home with the craft they are passionate about. So they cast a wide net and hope to catch any job they can catch. You don't need a deck? Well then maybe you need a fence or some sheetrock floated or a bathroom tiled. 

They are called "Jacks of all Trades, Masters on NONE" for a reason. Sure, that may do all of it in a passable fashion. But when you can get someone who specializes in it for around the same price (sometimes maybe even less), then why wouldn't you?

Do you know how many guys can't figure stair stringers? It's simple math (division). Yet they tell you they are a deck builder and they go buy pre-cut stair stringers at Home Depot. Not only are the odds astronomical that pre-cut stringers will fit your deck properly (could cause someone to break their neck of not done right), but if they can't figure this one simple thing out then do you really want to trust that they have figured everything else out that will keep your deck from collapsing? 
Spans, Loads, Joist Sizes, Fastener Strengths, Cantilevers.
~ See the photo above ~

Please folks. 

It's not "just a deck."

Not only could it mean your life if it's not built right, it's a serious waste of your money. In over 30 years of Deck Building I haven't met a homeowner yet that had 5k, 100k, or any amount of money to willingly waste on a deck. We have, however, met plenty that accidentally wasted money on the wrong contractor and then had to get a loan to pay us to come redo it the right way. That's just crazy. Who wants to do that???

I've got pictures of other local people's work I would love to put on here so you can compare it to the work you see in our galleries. And I may still do it at some point. But you can see it for yourself when you find their website or facebook page or what have you. 

Let me give you another clue that will help you avoid the wrong contractor......
If you see anyone advertising their work in facebook MARKETPLACE and nowhere else, then run for your life! This is another way for them to get something free and to not have to invest in themselves, which means THEY don't even think they are worth investing in!
I see all these in Marketplace. And each time I just cringe and wish I could do a video podcast showing all the things wrong with these decks. I don't want to shame people though; I truly wish more people would do better.

But if you aren't detered by the fact that the ONLY place they are trying to let you know they exist is by doing free fb Marketplace listings then just look closely at their work. If you see one set of stairs where the top step is flush with the deck but a second set of stairs has its first step one step down, or the railings going down different sets of steps are at different angles and connect differently to the deck rail, then run. 
If you see the support posts on blocks, then run!
There's just too much for me to list here.

But hey, since we are always booked up at least 6 months, if you can't wait on us for some real reason (which I certainly understand) and you want me to look at a guys work and tell you what I think (what I see right & what I see wrong), then I'm happy to do it! Just send it to me in an email (pics or links to their pics) and I'll gladly give you a free assessment of them! 

And I know our site lists all of the various things we can build for you. Here's why that's different than a Jack-of-all-Trades situation:
We specialize in decks first and that is our passion. Always have. But we've also framed and trimmed houses, and even done some commercial construction. So we offer other things because 1) they are things we can also be passionate about, like other outdoor structures, and 2) we are true, trained CARPENTERS. There is a huge difference in a carpenter and a guy who "can build things.'

I know there's no way we can build them all anyway. But it IS important to me that you all get the best deck you possibly can! So however I can help with that would be my pleasure.


For anyone wondering why I'd go to all this trouble to try to protect you from inadequate contractors, but not give their names.........

We have to be careful not to libel anyone. While I know what I'm talking about and I stand by it, technically it's my "opinion" that these guys could do better or that we do better than them. Because, hey, you might like paying the same for Blah work. You may think it's fine.
I mean, these contractors obviously think it's fine to take your money and leave you with what they leave you with. So......

I could say that if you email me I'll tell you the names. But honestly..... Sadly......... in Central Arkansas....... it's anyone who isn't us. In other markets - up North, out West - there are many great ones in the same area as each other. But around here, it seems WE are the only ones that have a true passion for decks and have decided to specialize in it so that you will get the absolute best you can get for your money.

Unless you can talk the owner of Perry's Custom Cabinets in Conway into building a deck for you (he's Amazing!) then your best bet is to grab a spot on our schedule and wait on us. We honestly want you to have to only spend your money once and get all you can for that money!

Get the only quote you really need now !