Deck Building Business - What should I expect?

I suspect this topic has been covered in the newsgrup before. I did a quick seach but didn't find exactly what I was after, hence this post.....
I'm thinking of starting a deck building business in Boulder County, Colorado. it seems I'd have to buidl a lot of decks to make money!
How much can one make from a single deck? I know size and complexity matters so just a ball park number or some examples would be good.
Would it be wiser to buy an existing deck building company or start from scratch?
I'm too old to do a lot of heavy lifting so I will hire some help. However, I will not hire illegals so will that make me uncompetitive?
Any other words of wisdom?
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Yes, deliver more value to your customer than you promise.
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your goals and consider only meeting them as almost a failure. It works and it works VERY well!
Actually rather than comparing dollars to dollars for a business, you'd be better off comparing manhours and expertise requirements per project so you can compare apples and apples. Anything I'd say for instance would have no bearing on your situation, even if I were in your business, which I'm not.
Food for thought: Don't forget the cost and cons of union labor. Have you contacted the SBA? Lots of info there. They gave me a GREAT start! Is this your first time with self employment? IF so, you might have a lot of surprises in store; do your homework.
Then you'll know what questions to ask and how to ask them.
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Other considerations . Contractors License, Liability insurance, Workman's Comp.and there is allot of misalanious overhead not related to every job. You need to really sit down and think of all the real cost and hidden cost. You will probably have to charge allot more than you imagine. You will also have to learn how to sell yourself. In my short try at Contracting I can't tell how times I was told " oh you showed up" and that was to look at a job, so there is allot of flakes out there, Are you going to be one? When I got a job my theory was to get in there get it done as fast as I could less time for customer to get picking or annoyed. But you should give it a try you will never know unless you do. I am not familure with CO. contracting laws but in CA. any job over $500 requires a contractors License ( some people believe charging by the hour gets around that, that's just not true) There are people that will have you do a job then ask for your license and you don't have a leg to stand on in court. If you do it you should do it right. Like with anything there's a learning curve. The only other thing's I can think of is you should try not to limit yourself to just to decks and if a customers says he has nothing but problems with contractors triple your bid.
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Sounds like good advice. I do plan to get a contractor's license and become bonded. Figuring out how much to charge is a science fair project in itself.....
Thanks!
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As a home improvement contractor who started from scratch just a few years ago, I'll agree that you need to do your homework. Since you're narrowing your service down to decks/carpentry it shouldn't be too hard to find out about supply costs and labor/man hours required for different jobs. Home Depot sells a contactor's guide to construction. It has tables for all kinds of work and adjustments for locality. Whatever you charge, you won't get everything you bid on and some people will always think you're overpriced, while others find you to be a bargain Just as there are bad contractors, there are bad clients too - don't expect to be able to please everyone. "Selling yourself" IS more important than pricing. I've won jobs where I had the highest bid (by as much as 25%) simply because I also won the clients trust and respect. Be honest, know what you're talking about and don't make any outlandish promises.
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Ah, Boulder, CO - my old school. Beautiful area, with a lot of rich bastards. I'm not a deck builder, but I started getting a magazine recently called "Professional Deck Builder" They apparently have expos, seminars, etc. I'm not shilling for them, but I would really recommend becoming affiliated with a professional organization. Besides the credibility it gives your business - it's nice to learn from others in the trade instead of learning every lesson the hard way, alone in the wilderness.
Good luck.
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Let's start out with a few questions. Do you know how to build decks? Have you built decks? Are you familiar with the building codes for railings, stairs, footings? Do you know the differences and pros and cons of using pressure treated, ipe, cypress, Trex or redwood?
How do you want to position yourself in business? You can be the guy that does the down and dirty deck on 50 or 100 tract houses going up, or you can be the deck specialist doing custom work on the homes of millionaires. Either way, you need a reputation with the clientele you want to serve.
OK, now a few answers. How much can you earn? Plenty if you have the market, the reputation, the skills not just to build a deck but to sell them and have the confidence of the buyer. You also have to know how to estimate labor, figure a bill of material, manage the workforce, control overhead.
Are there any deck companies for sale? Can be smarter to buy a good reputation. I have no idea of your business abilities to say what is best for you.
If you are worried about not hiring illegals and not being competitive, you are probably not qualified to run a business. If price is going to be your only selling point, there will always be a whore to underbid you so don't start and lose your investment.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/




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Edwin asked: "Let's start out with a few questions. Do you know how to build decks? Have you built decks? Are you familiar with the building codes for railings, stairs, footings? Do you know the differences and pros and cons of using pressure treated, ipe, cypress, Trex or redwood?"
I say: Yes, Yes, yes.
Edwin: "How do you want to position yourself in business? You can be the guy that does the down and dirty deck on 50 or 100 tract houses going up, or you can be the deck specialist doing custom work on the homes of millionaires. Either way, you need a reputation with the clientele you want to serve."
I say: I'll do custom decks with unusaul touches like a tree growing through a hole in it, or hidden stroage underneath. Target customer is the quarter millionaire.
Edwin says" "OK, now a few answers. How much can you earn? Plenty if you have the market, the reputation, the skills not just to build a deck but to sell them and have the confidence of the buyer. You also have to know how to estimate labor, figure a bill of material, manage the workforce, control overhead."
I say" How much is plenty. I already make "plenty" at my engineering job. I'd sacrifice some for the love of buiding decks but I still need to make my mortgage payment and help 3 kids in college.
[snip]
Edwin said: "If you are worried about not hiring illegals and not being competitive, you are probably not qualified to run a business. If price is going to be your only selling point, there will always be a whore to underbid you so don't start and lose your investment. "
I say: Price s not my only selling point but it is a factor in any and all sales. My point is that I will not prostitute my principles (e.g. against hiring illegals) to do this.
Cheers
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