BEFORE YOU BUILD
Most importantly...Plan Ahead!
What is a Deck?
A deck is simply a room created by a floor structure. A well planned deck effectively expands your living space to the outdoors. Optionally, a deck can be made into an indoor structure by enclosing it with screen or glass. A deck is an investment that increases the value to your home. The return on your investment is typically 70-80% on homes that are sold within three to five years.
Who Should Build My Deck?
You can build your deck yourself or you can hire a professional to build it for you. If you have never built a deck before we suggest that you consider hiring a professional, or try to build a single level deck. However, if you are the adventurous type and have some experience with framing then we hope this article will offer some help with your project. For the purpose of this article we are assuming that you have elected to build your deck as a do-it-yourself project.
What Type of Deck Should I Build?
There are many choices for a deck structure. Your major choices are single-level decks, multi-level decks, basic decks, pool decks and spa decks or some combination thereof. Single level decks and basic decks are the most common. These decks are built on one level with an optional set of stairs to exit the deck if built more than 18" off the ground. Multi-level decks are the equivalent of two or more single level decks. Often multi-level decks overlap and may include separate sets of stairs to get from one level to another. An L-Shaped deck is built in the shape of an "L". L-Shaped decks often wrap around the corner of a house. Pool decks and Spa decks are framed to accommodate extra weight.
Another decision you must make is the type of material (link) to use. Typically, softwoods like Cedar, Treated Pine, and Redwood are the most common deck construction materials, but do require yearly maintenance. If you are planning on staying in your home for more than 5 years, then you may want to consider a hardwood like Ipe (ironwood), Garapa or one of our other hardwoods. Composites are another alternative that will last for many years with little maintenance. Hardwoods and composites will require a greater investment up front , but will add even more value to your home and a larger return on investment.
Also, consider a shade structure like an arbor if your deck is in direct sunlight. Shade structures will make your deck much more enjoyable on a hot afternoon.
The type of deck for you depends primarily on your intended use. Obviously, you would not want to entertain a large group of people on a small deck built outside your bedroom. Consider how you intend to use the deck. Some ideas are:
This deck should be relatively small. The idea placement for a private sun-bathing deck is outside the bedroom. However, if your bedroom does not get much sunlight or the sun shines on the deck during working hours then you may want to consider another location. An 8 foot by 8 foot (8'x8') deck make a nice sun bathing deck.
If you regularly entertain 20 or more people during the early evening hours, a large deck located outside the family room may be a wise choice. Consider an L shaped deck if yard space is limited. A 16'x20' deck should be the minimum size for your needs.
A deck intended primarily for family use and small gathering are the most common decks. 8'x12' decks generally offers enough room for a grill and adequate free space. Scale the size of the deck to fit your needs.
- BBQ and dining area.
- Hot Tub area - future plan or existing.
- Built ins, like buffet shelving or benches.
- Other accessories like planter boxes, storage benches, and skirting of your deck are polpular choices.
- We can help you with your deck sizing for intended uses. We offer free consultation.
Where Should I Build My Deck?
Location, Location, Location
Determining where to build your deck is extremely important. Since a deck can be added to any side of your house or can be built as a free standing unit anywhere in your yard you will have a free hand determining exactly where to build it. However, obstacles such as utilities, plants and trees may impose limitations. Also, there may be zoning, building codes, and home owner association restrictions on how close to a property line and where you can build your deck. Please consult the survey of your property to establish easement and setback restrictions as to where you can or cannot build an addition.
Survey the Perimeter of Your House and Yard.
Note the location and the time of day that get sun and shade. NOTE: The sun's angle will change with the seasons. A deck built in the winter will get shade at a different time of day and at a different angle in the summer. Pay attention to the terrain.You may not want your deck too close to a deciduous tree - a tree that shed leaves - because of the fall cleanup.
Consider the Long Term Consequences of Your Decision.
Decks are not mobile. Once it's in place, that portion of your yard space can not be used for other Decks are not mobile. Once it's in place that portion of your yard space can not be used for other projects. Also, you may want to add to your deck at some point in the future, so consider where your property line ends
Planning Your Deck (Very Important!)
Now that you've decided to build your deck, you will need a complete set of plans for your deck. Most municipal building departments will require a plan before issuing a permit to begin construction. It's a good idea to inquire what level of detail your plan will require. Again, check for any building restrictions before hand.
Explore Your Plan Options
You have several options for creating a plan. The options include drawing a free hand plan on graph paper, drawing a plan using a CAD program, generating a plan from a deck design professional or adopting a pre-drawn plan.
This site offers the latter two options: deck design professional or pre-drawn plans.
You should also have an idea of what materials you will use to build your deck. We offer a wide selection of woods and composite materials. Use our Product Guide to see pictures of the various selections.
What to Include in Your Plan
Your plan should include, at a minimum, the size of your deck; the elevation of your deck, and the placement of your deck footings and an explanation of how you will create the footings.
Note to location of your property line, utilities, trees and other shrubbery or plants you intend to keep or relocate, and the general slope of the landscape. Your plan should include details for accomodating these items.
At this point, you should have some idea what the finished product will look like, where it will be built and what site preparations you may need to perform before starting construction.
If you are planning your deck as a do-it-yourself project, at the very least you will need the following tools:
- -Nail Gun
- -Power Screw Driver
- -Circular Saw
- -Power Drill
- -Power Screw Driver
- -Carpenter's Level
- -Carpenter's Square
- -Framing Square
- -Measuring Tape
- -Chalk Line
- -Plumb Bob
- -Claw Hammer
- -Pick Axe
- -Post Hole Digger
- -Safety Glasses
Note: The cost of these tools will add hundreds to your project cost.
Enjoy your new deck project, and please contact us in regards to any of the aforementioned topics if you have any questions. Our deck design team will be happy to assist you!