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A deck building business specializes in the construction of outdoor decks and patios for customers.
Who is this business right for?
A deck building business requires knowledge in carpentry, electrical, and sometimes plumbing construction. Experience in creating customer estimates and communication skills are also necessary to become and stay successful. The individual who enjoys working with his/her hands and in natural elements would be best fit for this profession.
What happens during a typical day at a deck building business?
Day to day activities focus on the construction of decks, creating customer estimates, and following up on customer leads for new projects. A deck business will also spend some time gathering materials and equipment for future jobs.
What is the target market?
Your target market will more than likely be middle, to upper class clients, looking to add to the appeal or livability of their homes. You may also want to focus on customers looking to advertise their house for sale or as tenant rentals. The addition of an outside deck or patio can often be a relatively inexpensive addition, which will dramatically increase the overall value and appeal of the house.
How does a deck building business make money?
A deck building business generates revenue through the completion of deck and patio projects for customers.
What is the growth potential for a deck building business?
As more customers look to improve the living conditions and curb appeal of their houses, the demand for external deck add-ons will continue to grow. By maintaining a positive rapport with customers and developing a trusted brand name, your earning potential can expand exponentially.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful deck building business?
Since virtually all of your profit, as well as future business is determined by customer satisfaction, it is critical that you understand how to talk to your clients and foster a word of mouth customer base. A good communicator will be able to continue to develop and grow the customer goodwill.
Additionally, experience in construction is absolutely essential. Some fast learners won’t need to rely as heavily on past experiences but, understanding framing, foundation building, and finish/trim work will prepare you for many of the situations you’ll be faced with day to day.
What are the costs involved in opening a deck building business?
Starting a deck building business can require a substantial amount of initial capital. You will need to build up your tools and equipment, such as circular and chop saws, pneumatic nail guns, screw guns, routers, air compressors, jigsaws, and handheld tools, such as planers, chisels, and hammers. You will also need some materials, such as nails, screws, and metal hardware at hand.
Additional investments include:
- A work truck or van
- A flatbed trailer for hauling equipment and supplies
- Signage for vehicles and your warehouse
- A warehouse for storing equipment and supplies, with utilities
- Insurance for the business and your workers
- A contractor’s license
- A website, cell phones, and internet for the business
What are the steps to start a deck building business?
Once you're ready to start your deck building business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your deck building business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your deck building business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a deck building business?
When first starting out, you’ll need to have some successes to point to, in order to attract customers. Create flyers and business cards. Many hardware stores and lumber yards will have pin boards for contractors to advertise their business. Then, take some jobs, preferably not too challenging, to complete. Take pictures of the final products and post them on your website and social media pages. Let people see for themselves what your work looks like. And, as stated earlier, rely on customers to spread the word about how professional and prompt your service was. You may even want to offer rebates on future work for customer referrals.
How to promote & market a deck building business
When marketing and promoting your business, positive customer word of mouth and recommendations will be an integral part of your strategy. You will also want to utilize as many free or low overhead options for advertising either online (Facebook, Instagram) or through flyers and handouts. Consider joining a contractor’s organization or advertise through regional builder associations, homeowner associations, and home, garden, and patio shows. These are excellent outlets for finding new customers outside of your customer base.
Recommended: A website is essential for promoting your business and attracting customers. Weebly is a great tool.
How to keep customers coming back
Maintain the most professional look, customer interactions, and final products possible. Your work really does speak for itself. When finishing a job, make sure nothing is left behind, except a professionally finished deck or patio.
How and when to build a team
Having a strong and diverse team is a critical first step. A crew of 3-4 will be a good starting place. And, once you have established your business, you can build multiple crews and expand your workload and earning potential.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a deck building business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A deck building business is generally run out of a warehouse or similar building. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a deck building business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your deck building business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Deck building businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and so on.
Labor Safety Requirements
Deck building involves the use of power tools and other potentially dangerous equipment, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with your areas labor safety requirements, which can be found here.
How much can you charge customers?
Depending on the customer’s plan and requests, you will charge between $100-150 per square foot, although it’s best to research the price points for contractors and companies in your area and strive to stay competitive with the competition.
What are the ongoing expenses for a deck building business?
Most expenses will fall in the materials and equipment categories, as your tools and the deck or patio materials are most often purchased. You will also see rent, insurance, and vehicle maintenance as critical values in your earning equations.
How much profit can a deck building business make?
Depending on the size of your company and the type of clients you regularly work for, a successful deck business can see earnings in the $80,000-120,000 range, annually.
How can you make your business more profitable?
When considering more profitable options, think about what extras customers mention or ask about in the initial estimating process. If your customers want more decorative designs and added wood or stone protections, you may want to consider dedicating a division of your business to remodeling, maintenance, or add-ons to already existing structures. You might also consider partial enclosures, sun shades, or pergolas as options for customers. Listen to their requests and create additional work options, since the customers are your number one concern and the key to your success.