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We frequently receive calls from people who are uncertain on how to get started with the process of planning, obtaining bids and selecting a contractor for their patio cover project.  Here are some suggestions.

1. Spend some time looking at your patio area and think about how much space you want to cover.  Look at my other blog for help with this. – Free DVD | Patio Covers that add value to your pro

2. Make some calls.  Many people look on the internet, select companies from direct mail ads or talk to a friend or neighbor who has already added a patio cover.  Be wary of companies that will not discuss your project with you on the phone and pressure you for an appointment.  Most companies will come to your home and give you a free estimate but you have every right to discuss the project briefly on the phone.

Also, think about the style of patio cover you want. Lattice, full shade, clear, insulated, etc. Your estimator will bring pictures and should have samples to show you of the various materials available.

Schedule appointments with the companies you select.  Showrooms are also excellent.  Many people want to see an installed patio cover in a nearby residence.  That can sometimes be arranged but many times people do no want strangers coming to their home.  That is why a showroom is so useful.

Remember, the low bid is not always the best bid.  Most jobs that went wrong for the homeowner have one thing in common – they were the low bid.

Examine the contract carefully and be sure that every detail is in writing and your expectations are stated clearly.  Take nothing for granted and never assume.

References are good but many times overrated.  Ask to speak with somebody in charge at the company that supplies the materials.  You can usually get more relevant information from them.

Hope this helps.