The key to building a professional-looking deck addition is in the time spent on planning and design. Planning your deck addition with great care can make it very easy for an experienced do-it-yourselfer to build a deck addition that looks like a professional job.
Whether you are creating your own design, building the deck yourself, or just planning your deck addition, it is important to keep in mind that time spent on the planning stage will save money on your deck addition and make construction much easier.
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Keep in mind that the old saying that “the devil is in the details” is extremely apt for deck design and construction. You can design and build a fabulous deck and have it look like a professional designed and built it if you spend enough time and effort on each step of the planning, design and construction.
Here are some of the most important steps in planning your deck addition:
- Find out the legal requirements and specifications in your locality. You will need to check on zoning specifications and building codes. If you live in a subdivision, you might also need to get approval of your plans from the homeowners association.
- Have underground utility lines and pipes marked before doing any digging. If there are above-ground utility lines in the construction area, you will need to consider their location as you design your deck, particularly if you plan to cover it at some point. You might even find that your design process will be more efficient if you know where underground lines are before you start planning the location of footings.
- Carefully plan your design. Think carefully about access to the finished deck, and access from the deck into the house. Think about height and proportion to the house and yard. Then think about materials, plank sizes, and any design you want to create with the planks. Think about railings and footings and structural support.
- Prepare detailed drawings. The greater the detail in your drawings, the easier it will be to actually build the deck as you envision it. This is important whether you are building the deck yourself or you are hiring a professional.
- Obtain the necessary permits. Permits and inspections are required to protect you and your family. Building to code results in a safe structure. In the long run it will cost less to just get the permits and inspections than to pay steep fines later.
- Carefully choose materials. You will have several options for materials. You choose natural wood, engineered wood or vinyl for your deck. And you will have choices in the type of wood, the appearance or finish of engineered wood and the look and color of the vinyl. You will want to consider color, finish, grain, size, etc. But you should also consider how easy the materials are to work with and maintain, and how durable they will be.
- Schedule the work. Whether you are building the deck or having it built by a professional, scheduling is important. You will need to consider weather conditions, especially in some locations. Remember that you will need to dig to place the footings and you will probably need to do some concrete work for the footings. You might also want to consider scheduling the work at a time when a contractor is offering a seasonal discount.
- Collect the tools you need. If you are building your own deck, be sure you have all of the tools you will need for the job. If you have planned carefully and in detail, you can simply review your plans and gather the tools needed for every step. If you don’t have some of the tools, you might want to consider borrowing or renting them.
- The foundation is critical. The foundation will support the entire deck. Getting the foundation right is the most important thing you will do to build a safe and stable deck.
- Beauty doesn’t matter if the structure is bad. No matter how elaborate or intricate your design, your choice of materials or the workmanship, the structure must be adequate and solid. Build your deck to support people, furniture and activity with sound structure.
- Protect your work. The job is not finished until you have protected your work. This will probably mean treating the wood to protect it from weather damage. If you have invested the time, money and effort into building a deck, it will be important to protect it and give it a long life.
Planning your deck addition in a way that takes these eleven steps into account will help you construct a stable, safe and beautiful deck that will serve your family’s needs for years to come.
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