Sunday, November 23, 2008

Decks, Builders in Toronto - When do we quit for the season?

Our Builders of Decks and Fences in the Toronto area will likely be outside until some time in January.

Terry Grosjean (photo above), our builder in the Oshawa Whitby area is putting in footings for a 350 square foot deck today. He is drilling the holes, setting the sonotubes while it is near zero this afternoon, then insulating the sonotubes and putting down straw as insulation. So long as the concrete doesn't freeze in the first day or two, the footings will be good to go next week.
Most people don't realize that 3-4' down the ground is warmer. The liquid concrete draws heat from there as it sets, and also generates a little heat of it's own during the curing process--a chemical reaction.

They are busy putting footings in so that they can keep going for a while yet. So long as the ground is fairly warm we can plan footings for decks and fences.

Normally we can set footings for decks and fences in the Toronto, Barrie, Whitby and Niagara areas until about December 15.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sub-Contractor to Contractor

Making the leap from Sub-Contractor to Contractor

The major difference between Sub-Contractors and Contractors or Builders is that Sub-Contractors work for Contractors only, and Contractors sell their services and sub-trades work to Builders, Architects, Companies and Private Clients.

Carpentry sub-contractors are often talented specialists. It is all about efficiency. They are builders that specialize in Stairs, Handrails, Framing, Trim, Windows and Doors, Flooring, Decks, Fences etc.

They manage to source help and since they specialize in one trade rather than many, they devise ways to get more accomplished than any general woodworker or carpenter could in a given time.

Sub-contractors often lack knowledge of how to price the entire job, how to sell, how to organize the different activities involved the whole job. In my general experience, any good sub-contractor possesses the ability to learn these tasks. If you can be good at one trade… chances are that you can be good at a few trades given the chance.

A Builder or Contractor needs to know about Marketing. What works, what doesn’t.

They need to learn how to sell to private clients. You can read a few books on the subject, we give our builders a sales and marketing guide. Sales is more about mood and attitude and doing what we know we should than anything else.

In this economy you need every tool and advantage you can get to survive.

A successful Contractor needs to have consistent leads. It used to be that you could just pay the yellow pages to get leads. You didn’t have to do the best looking work in town if you could afford a good ad. With the onslaught of Google those days are gone.

To dominate the web you need to do the most beautiful work in town, and you need to use techniques that last longer and you need to treat every single customer like gold. The internet has ways for unhappy clients to exact their pound of flesh from your future sales if they feel maligned.

When you are ready to become a successful Deck, Fence and Pergola Builder click here for information about our Deck Builder Group and then get in touch with Lawrence Winterburn at 888 293 8938

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What is a Sub-Contractor

What is a Sub-Contractor?

Carpentry Sub-Contractors are dependant upon others for their livelihood, and they are often not in a strong position to set their own pricing. They get the “Going Rate” for whatever their specialty is. Often akin to slave labor, as prices tighten up, so does their pay.

Woodwork and other types of Companies have been trending towards sub-contractors and contract positions to avoid offering benefits and the need to take deductions and remit them to the government. It allows them to offload many expenses like pension, benefits, unemployment, compensation etc.

They force the sub-contractor to get a compensation and legal clearance certificate prior to starting the job.

It is a fuzzy line to pinpoint the difference, but one thing for certain--being your average woodwork sub-contractor is not an enviable position to be in presently.

Governments have created new definitions that generally state that a sub-contractor that only works for one contractor or client is an employee.

Lets say that you have had a sub-contractor working pretty steadily for 3 years, but you really didn’t sign any contracts for each job. The sub-contractor just invoiced hourly, rather than spelling out any jobs and amount to be billed ahead of time. The sub-contractor didn’t actually work for any other contractors whether you knew it or not.

That sub-contractor is actually an employee in the eyes of the government.

They will hand you a bill for all the deductions and compensation that should have been paid on that employee. doesn’t deal with sub-contractors and hasn’t for quite a few years.

We believe that a builder that has his name on the contract, his share of the profit and the pride of producing a work of art will always take more care and produce a better product than a sub-contract worker will.

Our builders on the whole get more referrals and produce more magazine quality work than any of our competitors do crew vs. crew.

We are presently gearing up for spring and do have areas available.

Click here for info about our Deck and Pergola Builders Group then get in touch with Lawrence Winterburn for more details at 888 293 8938.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Should I use Paint or Stain on my Deck or Pergola?

Most Experts oversimplify the stain process.
The Western Red Cedar Association shows a chart in their finishing guide telling you to expect 10 years of durability on properly applied paint—what they don’t mention is that should be expected on a wall of a house. Vertical walls are a little different than a pergola or deck.

I rarely see mention of kiln drying, or back priming, or end cut sealing or pre-finishing.

When wood absorbs water it swells. Swelling causes cracks to appear in the stain or paint and leads to premature failure. The majority of moisture is absorbed from the end grains. Applying stain or paint on a deck after construction is a “maintenance nightmare in the making”.

NEVER use Paint on a Deck or Pergola.

ALWAYS pre-finish the materials all 6 sides with a high quality exterior stain before assembling.

ALWAYS seal the end grains during construction.

Our Guide to Exterior stain walks you through the process of applying stain to decks and pergolas for years of durability. There are many pitfalls, like trying to finish wet wood, mill glaze and applying stain in direct sun which could make your stain fail within weeks. See our Guide to Exterior Stain document below for comprehensive answers.


Our Guide to Exterior Stain Application,

WRCLA Finishing Guide for Cedar