You want an expertly built and beautiful gazebo. While this simple job will reward you with big dividends in entertainment and enjoyment, it’s never a bad idea to do some research and preparation. Here, we offer a checklist that’ll keep your home improvement goals on solid ground.
1. Prefer local, well-established contractors
The National Association of Home Builders and your local builders’ association offer resources to support a general search. Municipal building managers and consumer protection agents have information on licensing and bonding requirements in your specific location.
A good local contractor will be up-to-date on local requirements, and ready to resolve any issues that might arise with care and speed. The reason is obvious. Every aspect of your delightful gazebo and its installation enhances the contractor’s local reputation as well as your enjoyment of your home.
2. Know who has prior experience installing a gazebo
Even simple projects need to meet the codes; get experts who know the requirements.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the main U.S. consumer protection agency, a great way to get the right contractor is through word of mouth (including a generally positive string of reviews online).
A contractor should be able to put you in touch with clients who had similar work done. Go ahead and call them. Are the clients satisfied? Does the company meet deadlines, adhere to estimates, and leave clients’ yards in great shape?
3. Consider asking to visit a work in progress
This adds an extra step before starting your project, but It will show you the handiwork in real time. Looking at the work in progress might even present ideas that improve your own plans.
4. Shop around
Understand the estimates, too. Dig in and learn why a particular bid may be lower than others.
Note: Some state or local laws cap the final bill to a certain amount over the estimate unless you accept the price raise.
5. Think about whether your project will require additional specialty contractors
Landscapers and native gardeners will fill out ideas for the beauty of your yard as a whole. Are you thinking of adding extra touches to your gazebo, such as a fireplace or amplifiers or a screen for privacy and insect control? Specialists can offer important advice.
6. Request copies of insurance certificates
Contractors and subcontractors should be current on liability, workers’ comp, and property damage coverage. Be sure the costs of any serious mistakes will be covered, and that you’re protected in the event that a worker is hurt on your property.
8. Know what will be moved around your home
The workers might move items before starting to work, to avoid damaging them. Is that OK with you? If there are certain things you do not want moved, or your bathroom is off-limits to workers, explain your expectations to the contractor, so ground rules are known from the get-go.
9. Have a detailed contract that lays out costs, timing, and materials
It should also list the payment timeline for any subcontractors, and:
- It should state the contractor’s role in obtaining all required permits.
- It should state how modifications to the contract will be handled.
- Are the materials to be used in your project listed? Some might be selected later on; the contract should specify who’s handling the allowance for them. Also important is an explanation of warranties for work and materials. Who backs the warranties: your contractor, the makers, or the stores? How long is the coverage and what are the limitations?
- A good contract will also spell out that the contractor will take care of removing refuse and debris, and fix any splatters or stains.
- You should also see in writing your right to reject the agreement if you so choose within three business days unless you signed the contract at the seller’s main office.
As mentioned above, gazebos can involve specialty jobs. Your general contractor may be subcontracting one or more jobs to certain technicians.
10. The written contract should include anything important you discussed
Don’t rely on good memories and good will. Everyone is protected and respected when a sound contractual relationship is forged.
And when the work is done, consider supplying your own contact information—and beautiful gazebo—for a reference to help the next homeowner’s decision.