One of my favorite things is COMMUNICATION.
Sometimes it may take me a minute to get back to you, but once I do you'll never feel under-communicated with. Once we start your project YOU are the priority. I'll still have appointments to go to sometimes, and a family to be a part of, but once we're on site at your house you will be able to get me on the phone or get me to respond far better than you could when I was having to let someone else be the priority.
There's much more to the "What to Expect" topic. And every link in the Working With Us section in the footer comes to this page. Each topic will be a separate section on this page (as seen below) instead of each being on their own page.
And I'll get it all on here as soon as I have time. But the main thing you can expect is that if I said I'd do it, I'm doing it! And it WILL get completed! Your investment in hiring us WILL pay off.
More to come soon !
We stay booked many months out. Typically between 3 and 6 months. It is very important for everyone to understand HOW our schedule works and what happens if someone cancels or postpones their project.
After the final design is approved, we place people on the schedule in the order that they give us the go-ahead. This may not be the order in which they initially contacted us. So when we initially meet and I tell you how far we're booked out at that moment, we can become booked even further out by the time you & I agree on a design and you give me the go-ahead. At all times there are people somewhere holding designs and making decisions. People that I was working with before you (or even after I met you, but they may make their decision quicker) and that can give me the go-ahead at any moment. If I tell you we're booked to "June", for instance, and then 4-5 people get back to me and give me the go-ahead while you & I are designing your deck, then suddenly it might be August or September before we can start your project, depending on weather and the size and scope of each job in front of you.
Like many people, you may have researched or heard enough about us already that you know without a doubt that you are going to use us for your outdoor project. We love that! But in that case, let us know that during our initial meeting and I may go ahead and put you on the schedule to save you a spot while we work together on design. For this to happen:
1) There has to be enough room on the schedule for us to have enough time to come to a final design that YOU are comfortable and confident with. We do NOT need to still be designing while working on your project because it will end up costing YOU more money for the delays and backing up that is inevitable in that situation.
2) If, before we finish the design phase, you have me put you on the schedule just to save you a spot and then you decline to use us due to price or some other standard issue, then that may throw off everyone after you, and their plans, and I may send you a bill for re-scheduling services. This does not include an unforseen emergency that comes up for you. Causing me to re-work a schedule that is months-long takes up a decent amount of time, and time is money (because it causes me or my guys loss), so you may get billed for it. You doing this to us can also cause us to not allow anyone else to save spots anymore - and that is you causing other people to suffer or not get a benefit they otherwise would have, which is not fair. So be a decent human and don't ask to get on the schedule early if you don't know for sure you will use us becasue that could mess up a bunch innocent people and their plans.
Also, keep in mind that all of our work is outdoors. Rain can stop us and extreme heat can slow us way down. When I say "we are booked 3 months out", for instance, one of the things I can't forsee in advance that could push that to 3½ or 4 months is weather delays.
Another factor out of our control, to some extent, is customers adding things while we're working on their project. I feel like we have to let people add small things - things that add a day or less to the project - instead of making them get another spot at the end of our schedule. Most people do add a little something and I try to pad the schedule for that and for a little weather. But if someone comes up with an idea while we're working on their project and it will require more than a day of our time, I will ask that they let me schedule that in our next empty spot.
If you are planning a vacation or other event around your spot on our schedule, I recommend giving yourself plenty of room! I mean, don't plan anything for 2 weeks before the month we estimated we could start and for the entire month after we estimated we could start. I know that's hard to do in the summer vacation season. But if your plans and our schedule clash, how ever it finally works out when we get to your spot, and you have to cancel or postpone, then we and everyone on the schedule after you are in a problem.
* If you aleady have a vacation (or especially an event AT the project location like a wedding, etc.) then PLEASE tell us that in the very first email you send us. And repeat it when we meet and again when you reply to me after receiving my drawing & quote. We will never again let someone get us into a situation where we are rushing around killing ourselves. If we don't feel confident that you've contacted us in enough time for us to get to you on the schedule and get the project completed with days (if not weeks) to spare, then we may decline to schedule you before the event and you may need to find another contractor.
Additionally, if you ADD an event to your life so close to your spot on our schedule and, when all the weather and other jobs get done and we finally see the exact week we will start, it turns out there will be a conflict and you want to postpone us, keep this in mind:
We can't simply be "postponed" by more than about a day. Our crew is paid by the hour and they deserve to be able to get all the hours I can schedule for them. So we can't just "stand down" for a bit. If you create a gap in our schedule by putting us off, we will have to fill that gap with something. That something most times can NOT be one of the jobs after yours because they, too, planned their life around when we scheduled their project. So we will try to fill that gap with a new job (someone will hit the jackpot and not have to wait 6 months!). And that way all the other jobs are still on schedule and their life plans undisturbed.
We may be able to look at the situation and see if all the jobs after you could be moved up, or if one job can jump ahead and fill the gap (and we'll worry about filling their original spot later) so that no one's vacations or other plans are ruined by the change in schedule. But as many people as there usually are after any given job (3-6 months worth), the odds of this working out are slim to none. So please never assume that you moving yourself around on our schedule won't affect other people, because odds are it will. And the reality is that you will have to take the next open spot - which will be at the current end our our schedule (which could be 3-6 months away).
If you have an emergency - something unforseen that has to come before the deck - then we will certainly look at the schedule and maybe call a few of the folks after you to see if there is a way to get you back in so you don't have to wait ALL the way to the next actual empty spot. We understand, things happen. But we can't ask the 4-12 people after you to also understand and have the expectations they've had for months and planned their life around to be shattered over it. Sometimes we just get dealt a bad hand. And if you have an emergency that puts us off and we can't do your project during the slot reserved for you and you have to wait for possibly many more months by reserving our next open spot, then there must be a reason for it.
Your spot on the schedule is right after the job before yours. No matter what I ever said (estimated) about when we should start your job, we can't start until we're done with the project before yours. Since I'm human and doing all of this with no design team or office staff, I could misspeak and give you a wrong estimate of when your project will start. But I physically write everyone's name on a list IN ORDER of where they got on the schedule. And if I misspeak one time and accidentally give you the impression your job will start any time before the jobs before yours are complete, then you'll need to accept my apology for that and either stay on the schedule where you actually are or cancel on us. And no matter what happens in anyones' life, when the job before yours is finished we WILL need to start yours.
This written schedule is on the honor system. You have to trust I'm not putting people ahead of you after I've put you on the schedule. I've shown some concerned folks my written schedule, but that doesn't prove anything - a slimball could show you a fake one. And if you think I'm a slimeball and think I have time or motive to run around lying, then don't ask to be on my scheedule at all. Before we sign a contract with each other I don't technically have to ever work for you - no matter what we discussed in emails. And you don't have to honor your verbal promise to use us - you can back out. But even after the contract is signed, we can't and won't start your project until the job before yours is completed. Please consider that communication right there (previous sentence) as a part of your contract (because it is).
If your project has composite and we sign your contract and order the composite way in advance (to save YOU from a price increase), then the start date on your contract will likely just mention (list the name of) a month that work should start in (because we are doing the contract months in advance instead of a week in advance like normal). If it says we hope to start "in June", for instance, then:
1) We will shoot to get the job before yours done and get started on yours on any day in the month of June (or whatever month your contract states), but due to what was explained above (weather and people adding things), it could actually push in to the next month (or MORE!).
2) It WILL be AFTER the job that has always been before yours on the schedule. It can't be before - even if it pushes it out of the month your contract is "hoping for". And it must be RIGHT after, no matter what comes up in your life, or I'll have to give that spot to someone else and reschedule you for our next open spot (which could be months away).
Under normal circumstances where we sign the contract a week or so before we start, if you cancel or postpone us any time before we sign, then there's nothing we can do about it. We move on. If you do it after we sign, then that is breach of contract and the agreement is null and void. If we have already ordered lumber or actually gotten started with construction, then we will have to find equitable and logical resolution (pay us for what we've done, etc.). And that can be done easily between reasonable parties.
But if the contract was signed months before the start date, due to getting composite ordered, and you cancel or postpone before we've started or received the 1st check for the treated framing (1st 50% of The Remainder) - if you won't pay the draw or won't let us start on time - then you have breached the contract then as well. At that point you have only paid for the composite. And as long as you receive it, then that phase of the contract was fullfilled and the 2nd phase (ordering the treated framing and getting started) simply cancelled and was nullified by you before it started. We will not freak and get litigious over this; we may simply offer to reschedule you in our next open spot and we'll move on. If there is some unforseen issue that arrises (or one of us simply declines to work with the other any further for any reason), then as long as the materials ordered in the 1st phase of the contract are delivered in good condition, neither of us have to be forced to continue onto Phase 2 of the contract. As long as it's before money changes hands for the treated lumber of the 2nd phase, and especially if one party breached by missing the deadline to pay the 1st draw of The Remainder, then simply ordering composite decking through us does not mean we are forced to do any further work together.
No matter how the contract with limited room on one sheet of paper is worded, All contracts with Special Order materials (like composite decking) are TWO PHASE and phase one can be completed without phase two being forced on either party (unless money for phase two has already changed hands).
All of these common sense policies are how things should work to best protect all people on our schedule. And it all is so common that most people don't have to read all of this. But over the years we run across a person from time to time that doesn't understand how some things work. In a free-market society you don't get to dictate when your booked airline flight leaves, when the Razorback game starts, when a store you don't own will be opened or closed, and sadly, you can't just decide when we will build your deck. We have to do it according to a fair schedule that works for everyone involved. You certainly can't schedule it with us and then change it around, back & forth, to whatever works for you on a given day - because it affects a lot of people besides you.
If you have an old deck that we will have to remove, the furniture and personal items on and around the deck will need to be removed. This includes anything attached to the deck. It is best if you can remove everything so we won't risk being the ones to damage or lose anything. But we are happy to help and be the ones to remove any of the items or fixtures as long as you tell us where to put them and as long as we aren't held responsible for anything that is damaged or lost. If there are any electrical, gas or water lines attached to the deck, you may need to have the proper service tech come detatch them. In some cases we may be able to detatch or disconnect them. But we will not be responsible for reattaching or reconnecting them. We are not plumbers or electricians. If we can disconnect or remove something then we will do it at no cost to you. But you will be responsible for having it reinstalled or reconnected at your expense. We are happy to move furniture back on to the new deck when it's completed but you will need to be the one to get everything in its exact positions as well as re-hanging any lighting (not including lighting installed in our contract), decorations, windchimes, bird feeders, etc.
After the old deck is gone, we typically start with repairing or flashing any parts of the house where the new deck will attach. We then build the outline of the new frame so we know exactly where to dig our post holes. We set our posts and mix concrete to fill the holes around the posts. Since there is no load on the concrete, there is no need for us to wait for it to set before proceeding with the rest of the framing.
....I have more to add before this weather statement. But since I thought of it while writing the Scheduling statement, here it is:
If the temperature is decent then we might work in a slight drizzle. We can also work in the snow. But actual rain is a no-go. Ice is a no-go if we can't get there to work or if we weren't able to cover the lumber and the ice is too thick to remove so we can continue.
Sometimes it may rain in the morning but stop by lunch or so. After the rain stops, if there is enough time for us to get there, be productive, and make it worth the gas money to get there, then we will come to work when the rain stops. But every job is different and located a different distance from our homes and so, even though you may think we could be there working after the rain has stopped, for us it may be too far away to make it worth the couple of hours we'd get in - or we may have decided to go help our old moms with something while it was raining and we could be tied up doing that (and our moms are important).
More to come soon !