Until I get an opportunity to see the deck, either through pictures or in person, I always attach a generalized bid price of $2.75/sq. ft. to the lowest sq. footage category. I understand that a personal visit doesn't guarantee the job, but it sure guarantees an exact bid with no surprises.
After the initial contact is made through Thumbtack, we exchange numbers and communicate through texting and phone calls. Each transaction is duplicated in the thumbtack site so there aren't any surprises for either me or the client.
I do not have any certifications for my deck work. I have a building back ground with framing and cabinetry. I was taught the trade and within a couple years ventured into my own company. I have been working around vehicles, houses, decks and fences for fourteen years.