The hazards of fine print in your porch or deck contract – top 3 things to watch for

You might not think this is the case but sometimes the longer the fine print, the less you’re getting. There can often be hidden costs to look out for in the specifications list, warranty, or other details found within your proposal or contract. Here are a couple of things to watch for. You want to be careful if the list of specifications or details about a component are too confusing/not written in a clear and straightforward manner, too vague, or stated verbally.

1) Confusing and/or not written in clear and straightforward manner

Beware if you receive contracts, estimates, addendums, specifications sheets or other documentation that is confusing or is not written in a way that is easily understandable and digestible. For example, if there are multiple options with associated prices within your contract, it may be difficult for you to designate what your selections are and which selections you are not choosing. In contrast to the next point, be wary if there is too much fine print or the documentation is confusing. This may be done intentionally to slip in hidden costs or specifications that are not in agreement with your expectations.

2) Too vague or purposefully vague

Think about all of the construction materials that it will require to build your new porch or deck or outdoor structure. Imagine those materials being delivered and sitting out in your back yard. Now imagine the options available with each of those materials. There are a number of different types of wood that can be used. There are a number of different screws that can be used. There are hundreds of options in construction materials that differ greatly. Has your contractor discussed these options with you? Now imagine that same set of building materials and imagine the number of different ways those can be assembled. In addition to materials, there are construction details that need to be specified.

Look for items in the specifications that are purposefully vague such as “48 feet of standard railing”. Even a railing has lots of facets including pickets, posts, and even screws. Insufficient explanations of choices and options may indicate the contractor is going to use the cheapest options to get the price down but this reflects on durability, upkeep, maintenance.

3) Stated verbally
Watch out for verbal promises that your new porch or deck will be “the same” as someone else’s, or the same as another picture. Beware if they continually lead you to focus on the size of the structure and not the hundreds of variables that are included.

You may feel that you are not qualified to read and understand all of the details or fine print in your construction contract and at first, the details may seem foreign to you. But, it’s your job to ask lots of detailed questions. Sit down with your contractor and the contract. Go through the contract and other details line-by-line. A reputable contractor with nothing to hide will gladly discuss each detail as well as other options that are available. This also creates an excellent opportunity to make any critical changes before the project begins.

In addition, do your due diligence. Research how these different methods and products perform and why they perform this way. If the contractor tries to pressure you to sign the contract before you’ve had time to do your due diligence, beware that there is likely a reason.

Steve Folsom - owner of Archadeck of Kansas City

Give us a call to discuss your next backyard project whether it be a porch, sunroom, deck, pergola, or other outdoor living area. Call (913) 851 – 3325 or send us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net