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Here to Please
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As the founder and owner of a decking company that is well known throughout New Jersey for delivering sensational outdoor spaces on time and on budget, Ion Colbasiuc certainly understands what it's like to have his services in high demand. Work especially picks up in late spring and early summer, when the weather is getting warmer and homeowners are dreaming of adding a backyard oasis to their property.

Even at this time of the year, however, Colbasiuc will never find excuses to give a customer the cold shoulder. When he started Deck Guardian over a decade ago, his motivation was to not only provide the finest craftsmanship but also a positive, stress-free experience, and that remains his driving factor to this day.

"Service should be a lot better than what it is across the construction industry," he says. "People call in to get an estimate and they can't get a hold of anybody, they can't get anyone to come out for three weeks to even give them a quote, and once they get the quote it takes too long to get the contract in place.

"We try to make it a lot easier on them. If you call us we'll be there in a few days, we'll get you a price on the deck and if you want to build it, we'll build it as soon as possible. Some people have simple projects and some have more elaborate projects, but it should be as easy as walking in, buying something and having it at your house two months later rather than chasing someone around to answer the phone or give you a price."

That attention to detail is even more important in today's climate, where supply chain issues, rising material costs and difficulties to obtain permits are real challenges. Getting on the schedule early ensures that family dinners, summer barbecues and graduation parties can be enjoyed sooner rather than later.

From the very first meeting, Colbasiuc stresses transparency between his team and the homeowner. He frequently hears the same questions from prospective customers, starting with how much the deck will cost, and takes the time to carefully explain the many variables that will determine the price. Those include the location and whether the soil makes for easy or hard installation of the footings; the cost of building permits in a particular town; the proximity from the driveway to the backyard to transport materials and debris; and whether the deck is low to the ground or on the second story.

"There are multiple factors that come into play when we are pricing a project and it changes on a case-by-case basis," Colbasiuc says. "Most of the projects that we do are around 300-400 square feet and they're within the price range of $20,000-$25,000. But decks are going to last 25-30 years and if you're spending $20,000 on a deck, you're getting at least $15,000 in real estate value."

Customers expect the design process to be complicated, but Deck Guardian takes the approach of creating an outdoor space that is just like the homeowners' favorite rooms inside while accounting for important details like traffic flow and the best place for stairs. "Decks are primarily used for grilling, dining and lounging, so when we're putting together a project, we want to make sure that you have enough space for all three activities," he says.

A shade structure can make the deck usable in extreme heat or rain, and a porch with outdoor heaters can extend the enjoyment into the colder months of the year. Colbasiuc is happy to add whatever amenities make sense for a customer's lifestyle and budget.

When it comes to the timeline for the deck's completion, fall, winter and early spring have the quickest turnarounds, while the summer tends to get extremely busy and will push the project back a bit. Different towns have different processes for granting permits but Deck Guardian has dedicated staff just for this task.

"Most of the decks we build average about a week for installation, so once we get started it will be done before you know it," Colbasiuc says. "But before you start it's a lot of hassles and paperwork, which we handle so the customer doesn't have to."

Nothing beats the feeling when the job is finished and the end result is a beautiful space ready for new memories to be created.

"When it's all done everybody is just thrilled with how much better it came out than they were expecting," he says. "They can look at a picture ahead of time but it's just a picture. When they actually get the space and see how nice it looks against the house, how much room they have and how good the installation is, they have a really good impression.

"It's a great experience for them because our service is really what makes the difference. As long as we stick with our core values, people will appreciate it. That's why we have the best reputation in the state and we're on target to build 700 decks this year."

Deck Guardian
458 Elizabeth Ave. | Somerset, N.J.
(908) 332-8616

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 22, Issue 7 (April 2022). 
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