|Voted Best Answer
As stated by others: You get what you pay for. Many contractors no longer use employees. The cost/benefit ratio is gone by the time worker's comp. insurance, unemplyment and other taxes are paid. Especially with the high turnover in our industry. Many, myself included, have our guys set up as sub-contractors. That means even if the job is only for a day the duties have been outlined and a set pay to complete those duties has been established from the onset. It's a better way to manage costs once I got used to it. Also, it means I can operate cheaper and not have to charge as much to the customer. My agreements with my guys, which they sign, make it clear that I nor the homeowner are responsible for their safety and medical care should a problem arise and that all parties are relieved of any such obligation. If you hire a contractor who follows this growing practice ask to see a copy of his sub-contractor agreement.
That being said, a legitimate contractor still has operating cost which vary by area and how they run their business. I break even at $150/day not including labor and materials so I've got to charge more than that to make money. To keep the math simple, if I'm paying $250 for a pne day job in labor plus another $300 in materials and $150 operating costs I've got to charge $700 to the customer to break even. That's if I'm only doing one job a day which is why most of us manage several at a time. The point I'm trying to make is that someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to build you a safe deck is not going to be cheap. Knowledge accompanies success which costs money.
I've repaired or restructured several decks built by handymen who should find another profession. Ask yourself this question when hiring someone for this project: Would I trust this person to build my house? If the answer is no you need to find someone else. The deck is just as important. It's where your family, friends, kids are going to gather and interact. If it isn't structurally sound it can collapse causing injury or even death. One last word on decks: Always screw a deck together, don't nail it.
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX