Have you decided it’s time to add an outdoor living area to the back of your home? It’s an expense that many Floridian homeowners are willing to incur because we spend a lot of time outdoors. Choosing a contractor is one of the first steps toward accomplishing your goal. What’s the best way to determine who’s building your lanai?
We’ve got some tips to help you choose the best contractor for the job.
Before seeking bids
There are some decisions you should make before you actually begin seeking bids for your project.
Where are you going to connect the lanai to your house? Usually, access is through the kitchen or living room. Both of these spaces connect to main living areas so it just makes good sense to increase that space.
Does your city require building permits? Most do these days for any type of addition to structures on your property. Check and see if there are limitations as to how and where you build your lanai so you can design properly from the start.
If you live in a subdivision regulated by a homeowners association (HOA), you could pull out all of the paperwork that you obtained when you became a part of the community. Odds are there are guidelines you must follow pertaining to additions to the property.
It might be easier though to contact your HOA by phone or drop by the office. That way, you’ll know the most current information and won’t risk making a costly mistake in your design should it be discovered after the fact. You might also be made aware of specifics, such as where the construction crew must park while in the neighborhood to complete the job.
HOA rules and regulations can be extremely rigid so it’s a good idea to revise them before you begin designing. If you run into a snag due to the “uniformity” issues that can arise, hang in there! Proving your case may be all you need to do to enact a change that the entire community will thank you for!
Determine your budget
Once you’ve got a design in mind, you need to determine how to make your idea come to fruition without breaking the budget. You can access a building calculator, like this one, online that can help you figure how much you can expect to spend building your lanai to meet your specifications.
Here are some factors for you to consider:
- Are you starting from the ground up or is there an existing floor?
- How big do you plan the lanai to be?
- Are you enclosing the entire area? If so, what type of enclosure will you be building?
- What other building materials will you incorporate?
When you have an idea of what the job should cost, it helps you choose a contractor when you compare your findings to their estimate.
Choosing the one for the job
In our opinion, word of mouth is the most excellent reference you can find. Ask your friends and family who they hired to build their outdoor living rooms. If they’re happy with the work, the odds are in your favor that you will be too!
If you have a reliable referral, there’s really no need to look any further. You can use the same contractor when building your lanai—providing the cost factor doesn’t interfere.
If you wind up needing to search out a contractor on your own, it’s a good idea to obtain at least three estimates to compare. If one of them is notably less expensive, get rid of that one because odds are they’re going to use shoddy building materials and techniques to cut corners. That’s just going to shorten the life of your enclosure from the get-go.
Look online for company reviews too. If you are reading review after 5-star review and suddenly come upon a scathing review, take it with a grain of salt. Some people “troll” sites to spread untruths and if they come few and far between, odds are they’re fake.
Licensed, insured, and bonded
All three of those words are important when choosing a contractor. Ask if the company has all three in place. If not and an accident occurs on your property, you could be held responsible.
A written contract
If there’s no mention of a contract, disconnect yourself from the conversation and don’t look back. You don’t want someone like that building your lanai. Any reputable contractor will provide you a contract that includes:
- A detailed description of work to be completed and the cost incurred
- A payment schedule
- A start and end date
- A breakdown of the company guarantee
- Signatures of both parties
When things are lined up
Once you’ve hired your contractor, it’s time to start thinking about the decor! Water features are becoming more and more popular. You can find a wide variety of tabletop features or take up an entire area of your space with a fountain or wall feature. Furniture, throws, and all the rest will help you create the ambiance that you’re going for.
Consider how you’ll use your space and let that influence the layout. Do you plan to dine outdoors regularly? A larger table complete with chairs may be in your design plan then. If not, a more causal layout is in order.
Outdoor rugs create a cozier environment and, of course, pillows and throws add to that element. Plants are a popular feature as well.
We’ll leave the design up to you because you know what appeals best to your family. There’s no doubt that once everything is said and done, building your lanai will be one of the best decisions that you ever made for your family and friends! They’re going to love hanging out in your new space too. Count on it.