How To Spot a Dodgy Deck Contractor

For many people, the task of hiring a deck contractor comes with a lot of stress and questions.

Bad contractors are in every city. HGTV shows feature countless stories of people just like you, being left high and dry after trusting the wrong person. You may even know someone personally who’s had a bad experience with a contractor.

But, that doesn’t have to be your story.

Here are 8 surefire ways to identify a dodgy deck contractor before it’s too late:

They need payment upfront

It’s common for most contractors to ask for a deposit of 10-25% before work starts.

If you’ve ever been burned by a company who no-showed, you can appreciate the sense of security that a reasonable deposit affords both parties. A reasonable deposit is professional and binding. However, a disproportionate up-front charge is concerning.

If your contractor is asking for payment of 30% or more before any work starts, they better make it crystal clear why that’s necessary.

Get a few quotes and see if other companies are making the same request with the same justification. If there seems to be no way around it, protect yourself by consulting a construction attorney before paying up.

They require cash

When you hear “cash” think, “undocumented”.

This is good for the dodgy contractor because they don’t have to pay taxes and fees on the revenue. But, it’s bad for you because if anything goes wrong, you have little recourse.

If someone is pushing you to pay in cash — even for a discount or other incentive– make sure you’ve got strong documentation of your agreement in writing. Without payment records, claims may not be defendable in court and a dodgy contractor can essentially walk away with your money.

If the contractor insists on cash terms and resists documentation, don’t walk, run away.

They have zero bad reviews

Reviews are a great resource for finding high-quality contractors.

You wouldn’t choose a company that has tons of negative reviews, obviously, but you should also be wary of ones with only great reviews. There’s not a single contractor that has never had an unhappy client. If they have only positive reviews, you’re only getting part of the picture, and it’s not the most helpful part. Negative reviews give you an opportunity to see how a company deals with a mistake or misunderstanding. Check out 3 things you should know about online reviews.

Look for companies with a mix of reviews.

Pay attention to the way they respond to any negative reviews or if they respond at all. Note the particular complaint the review addresses and why the situation may have arisen. Don’t be afraid to ask a deck contractor about a negative review you’ve seen. Their reaction is likely indicative of how they’ll feel about and deal with your potential issues.

They can start immediately

When you need a deck renovation or repair, finding someone that can start right away may seem like a godsend. However, especially in the busy spring and summer months, most reputable companies fill their schedules quickly — most have wait lists weeks or months long.

If your project is small, maybe they can squeeze it in on short notice, or if you pay a premium they may bump other discounted work. But generally, this ‘blessing’ should be scrutinized a more closely.

Ask them for references, how long they’ve been in business, and what other projects they are currently working on to gauge a deck contractor’s reputability.  

They pressure the sale

All good salespeople establish some urgency, but when someone pressures you into a decision by capitalizing on your fears or through aggression, that’s plain wrong.

Rather than pushing you into an agreement, a contractor should provide you all the information you need to comfortably make a decision. High-pressure sales rely on your impulsivity and fear to get what they want from you — it’s no way to start a relationship that should be built on trust and open communication.

Even if your deck is literally falling apart, there is no reason to rush a decision. If someone won’t give you the time and attention to make an informed, logical decision, then don’t give them your money.

They Don’t ask questions

You’ll undoubtedly have a set of questions for every decking company providing you a quote and estimators worth their salt will have their own questions for you. A contractor needs to know what you want and what your expectations are to be able to give you an accurate quote. They should be asking questions about why you want a deck, who will use it, and how.

By understanding your needs, they can make their best recommendations and also understand what should be included or discluded in their quote. When a contractor doesn’t ask questions, they are assuming what you want and need, which will inevitably cause conflict or disappointment.

They skip the paperwork

Always, always, always get a written contract.

Ensure specifics about what’s included or not included as well as pricing and payment terms are outlined. This contract will serve as your protection if conflict or misunderstanding should arise.

Doing business on a handshake leaves you open for a world of hurt.

The paperwork also protects the contractor and there’s no reason a legitimate company would want to begin a project without the proper records.

The paperwork includes licenses and insurance. If a company can’t produce this upon request, they probably don’t have it and they’re not someone you should ever do business with.

It seems too good to be true

Are you a lucky person? When you need a job done fast, but your price is tight, you’re going to need luck to find a good contractor that can help.

If you’re getting a screamin’ deal, it’s probably not really a deal at all.

Reflect on the previous signs of a dodgy contractor and figure out where you may be having the wool pulled over your eyes. As they say, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  


There are honest, experienced, and affordable deck contractors in this world. If you’re looking for one in the Vancouver BC area, call Citywide Sundecks and Railings at (604) 786-3325 and ensure your deck story has a happy ending.

Citywide Sundecks

Citywide Sundecks

We pride ourselves on our expertise in quality decks and railings for all kinds of homes and venues. Not only are we the top Duradek distributor in the region, but we are also known for offering a wide variety of the latest decking solutions to suit every taste.

Testimonials

  • My experience with Paul and his Citywide Sundeck crew has been nothing but positive. They are on time and completely professional and able to offer solutions to complicated waterproofing challenges.

    Joe C. – Vancouver

  • I’m a general contractor in the lower mainland. I contacted Paul to help us re-vinyl a deck that used to be fiberglass. GREAT customer service, the job was professionally done by 2 of his crew members. When I called 4 other companies to look at the job, no one came or called back. Paul was attentive to our needs & was able to squeeze us in with a 2-3 day lead time.   Thank you so much for your consistent attention to detail, professionalism, & continuous strive for quality.

    Steve – New Westminster

  • Hard working and respectful crew. Deck turned out great. I would recommend Citywide to others who are considering building or replacing their deck.

    Vito – North Vancouver

  • Two years ago we hired Citywide to renovate our sundeck and back porch. We were very happy with the results and we are enjoying them every day. Last month we had them renovate our front stairs and walkway. The result exceeded our expectation. Now our front entrance looks good enough to welcome a queen! I like Paul’s workers they are friendly and able. Also, Paul is one of the most organized and punctual people I have ever known. We have had a lot of problems with tradesmen in the past. It’s nice to know Paul for a change.

    Sadako – Burnaby

  • I had Citywide Sundecks replace the 28 year old Duradeck sheeting with the similar material on my sundeck. The job was completed in one and a half days to my complete satisfaction. The deck looks like new with all the joints and seams glued and heat treated to ensure maximum waterproofing. Stainless steel screws were used throughout in reinstalling the original aluminum railings and stairs to ensure longevity and improved appearances. When the job was completed the installers cleaned up the work site. I was impressed and pleased with this Citywide crew. They were professional.

    Stephen – Richmond

  • We had our hot tub and sundeck replaced this summer. Citywide Sundecks did a wonderful job of the vinyl deck. The installation was complicated by the fact that the hot tub was sunk into the deck and the glass railings had to be removed and replaced. The job was done in a timely manner with great efficiency. We truly appreciated the skill of the workmanship, the attention to detail and the concern for aesthetics.

    McBride – Coquitlam

  • Paul and his team did excellent work with attention to detail. The work was done quickly and we are very happy with the result.

    Lora – North Vancouver

  • Great service and a fair price for the work. Delivered on all their promises and even did a nice job cleaning up. I would definitely recommend them.

    R. B. – Vancouver

  • Amazing service. Friendly, prompt, really good product. The installers are wonderful and skilled, friendly. I really would recommend this company. I like the range of products they offer and they took time to explain all my options.

    A. R. – Vancouver

  • We were very surprised when we were told that they were able to start working on the project within a week of us signing our contract. We were kept updated of progress and appreciated being contacted by Paul to see how they were doing and if we had any questions. The work was completed quickly and efficiently. The fellows who did the work were friendly and cleaned up after they had finished for the day. We were very happy and have referred them to our friends.

    Courtland C. – Delta

  • Paul and his crew were hired to rebuild a terrible deck that was built last year. Citywide Sundecks isn’t the cheapest, but they did the job right and on time, and it comes with a 10 year warranty. We should have gone with hie the first time around.

    Job P. – Surrey

  • Paul and his crew did a great job of taking care of us. We had to replace a deck and deal with some water issues above and below the deck, all which was behind the stucco. This work has been completed and we are very happy. Paul and the crew kept me informed throughout. They were very easy to deal with and answered all my questions as the work progressed. All this was done at what I thought was a fair price.

    Andy Stephens. – Surrey

  • Very happy with our Duradek job.  It was installed exactly as discussed and Paul made sure that we were completely satisfied.

    Rene B. – Vancouver

  • We are very pleased with the restoration project completed by Citywide Sundecks and Railings during the summer of 2015. The beautiful new sundeck was rebuilt in a very professional manner and the installed aluminum railings were a real upgrade on our original wooden ones. We are so glad that we contracted CWS as they were terrific to deal with and they provided quality work from start to finish.

    Bruce & Loreen S. – Richmond

  • I live in Prince George and contacted Paul at Citywide Sundecks to enquire about installing Duradek at my 85-year-old mother’s house in New Westminster. Paul kept us informed every step of the way. His crew was professional and hard working. They completed the job as agreed and ahead of schedule, even throwing in a few extras for my mum at no cost! My mother was very pleased with the outcome and happy to be enjoying her new deck.

    Leanne M. – Prince George

  • We were in a rush to get our sundeck stairs repaired. Paul was very accommodating and had the stairs replaced very quickly. The quality of work was excellent! I would highly recommend Citywide Sundecks.

    Linda & Rob M. – Delta

  • A word of thanks, for the excellent work on my sundecks, stairs, and railing. Your work was done on time and within budget. I must say it's the envy of my neighbours. They ask who did the work, and of course I tell them Citywide. The house looks great, with the new decks and stairs.

    Tony C. – Vancouver

  • We were very pleased with the deck installation performed by Citywide Sundecks.  Paul took the time to show us a recent installation he had done in our neighbourhood, which helped us to visualize how our deck would look after it was complete.  He explained how he would address deficiencies with the existing installation.  His staff were very efficient, courteous and professional.  I would recommend Citywide Sundecks.

    Stephen G. – Tsawwassen

  • I called Citywide Sundecks and Paul was at my home within two hours of my inquiry. He was professional, knowledgeable, efficient and easy to deal with. The gentleman that did the vinyl on my deck came out and completed the job in one day with no mess left behind. The whole process took less than a week from initial inquiry. I would recommend Citywide Sundecks to anyone.

    A. R. – Burnaby

  • We were very impressed with the professionalism of Citywide Sundecks. We really do enjoy our deck. and would recommend Citywide to anyone.

    Alan – Vancouver

Email: info@citywide.ca





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