A screen enclosure project takes careful planning. The contractor has to design the screen room accurately, but you also need to ensure they’re on track to give you what you want before you ever make a deposit. You need to check out the key details of the project. Look at the estimate carefully and make sure these details are all covered, and also that that are in writing on your contract!
Type of Screen
Don’t assume you’ll get the screen you want until you see it in writing. You’ll be unhappy later on if the contractor uses cheap, Chinese-made screen called Artisan Wire. Even if the screen contractor doesn’t try to cut costs by using this inferior screen, they may not be giving you the screen you prefer. If you want polyester screen or No See Um screen, make sure that is what is listed on the contract.
Type of Fasteners
Screen enclosures are put together with some type of fastener, which should be listed in the bid. Does it seem like this is a minor consideration? Far from it! If the contractor uses builders grade steel screws, they could start rusting in a few short months. Galvanized steel screws can rust quickly, weakening the structure by as much as 76%. The 304 stainless screws have very low levels of nickel and get weak after 3 to 4 years. To see how bad your screen enclosure can look shortly after the installation of these types of screws, check out the rusty fasteners on this page.
Instead, make sure your contractor is going to use Nylo-Tec or Pro-Tect fasteners. Nylo-Tec fasteners have a molded nylon head rather than a cap. This ensures the screws don’t get rusty heads. Pro-Tect fasteners have a nylon sleeve and cap that protects the fastener from harsh environments. Both have a 10-year warranty.
Type of Finish
The aluminum members that support the screen enclosure have to have some type of finish put on them. Contractors who are trying to cut corners often use epoxy paint for this purpose. If they do, the members will turn green. At Gulf Coast Aluminum, we use American Architectural Materials Association’s AAMA 2604 powder coat. This finish maintains its color and gloss for years. It is ideal for outdoor applications such as screen enclosures.
Florida building codes require that buildings meet specified standards to ensure they can withstand the high winds in the zone where they are built. For example, the windzone requirements are lower inland than they are by the coast. One question you need the contractor to answer is whether they are meeting the engineering standards with the screen in or out of the structure. If they are only meeting the requirement based on the screen being out, that means to protect your screen enclosure, you’re going to have to remove the screens when the winds are high. Screen enclosures are risk category 1 structures. Although these structures have a low hazard to human life, you do want your screen enclosure to hold up to the strong Florida winds.
Survey or Site Plan
In most cases, it’s best to have a survey done before building the screen enclosure. This rules out any encroachment on easements and setbacks. The site plan details how the screen enclosure and its foundation will be situated on your property. You should always expect a site plan.
The problem is that many contractors leave out these crucial steps. They might also talk about a survey or site plan but never do one, or bill you extra for a siteplan or survey after the project starts. To ensure they do more than talk about it, make sure you see a survey and/or site plan listed in their bid. Otherwise, if they don’t take care of it and issues come up with your city or neighbors, you’ll have no power to ensure your contractor makes it right.
Once you make sure all the above details are covered in the contractor’s bid, you can decide if you’re happy with the materials they are going to use. You can know for sure that the contractor is promising to meet the standards set by law and defined by the contract. Finally, when you are satisfied that the bid contains every key detail about the structure, you can make an educated decision about whether to make a deposit. Tending to these details can mean the difference between having a screen enclosure that doesn’t stand the test of time or one you can enjoy for many years to come.