Redoing Our Deck (Part 1)

Our deck has been neglected. In the past 12 years since we moved in, I stained it once. Needless to say, the woods have been badly deteriorated. I have been wanting to redo it every summer, but I rather spend time with the kids and go on vacation.

Now that the kids stay home and spend more time on the deck, I don’t want them to get splinters. It has come to the point where I have to do something about it. In the past couple of days, my wife and I had been discussing this project. We went from repainting to replacing, from woods to composites, and doing ourselves to hiring professionals. We looked up YouTube videos and did some research.

I wanted to get a few estimates and one of our neighbors had just completed his deck. He hired a professional company for $20,000. He informed me that the starting price is $15,000. I thanked him for sharing the information. Dropping fifteen to twenty grants for a deck is just too much for me. I don’t see it as a necessary spending, especially at the time when people struggle to pay their bills. If I could have it my way, I would rather do away with the damn deck.

After examining the structure of our deck carefully, the frame is still in good shape. I just need to replace all the boards and the railings. Although I am not a handyman and I have low confidence when it comes to home improvement, I think I can pull this off.

I went to my brother-in-law’s house to borrow a few electric saws. Then I went to Home Depot to pick up a Wrecking Claw for $50. This tool made removing boards painless. In half a day, we pulled up half of the decks already. My sons used it to help me pull up the nails. I used the saws to cut off the railings. Tomorrow we will finish up pulling out all the woods.

My calculation for the woods would be about $500. I am sure my work won’t be as nice as the professional, but I can save $14,500. Why do these companies charge so much? With the tools and the materials available from Home Depot and Lowe’s, doing it yourself seems possible if you are willing to do it. Even if I don’t want to do it myself, I have no choice, but to do it myself. I just can’t justify the cost for hiring a professional, especially for something that I don’t think necessary.

What about when people hire me to create a professional website? I don’t charge $15,000 if I could do the job for $5,000. I assume why my freelance is failing. I don’t feel good overcharging my clients. In contrast, companies do not feel bad overcharging me.

A few years ago, my sister-in-law hired a contractor to build a patio. I am not sure how she found him, but she complained that she could not find any information on his work. She advised him that he should have a website showcasing his projects then she recommended me. I came and talked to him about it. I quoted him around $2,000 for a simple website with work samples, testimonials, information about his services and his company, and of course contact information. Unfortunately, he told me he could not afford it. He charged my sister-in-law $40,000 for the job and he could not afford $2,000 for his business website? I don’t get it.

I am not sure where my ranting is heading, I just know that I am suck at doing business. I would love to be able work for myself, but I know I won’t survive. I don’t have the skills of a business-savvy person.