The popularity of constructing deck additions is hardly surprising since many consider them a beautiful addition to the home’s landscape and an excellent way to increase property value.
Planning a deck construction is not an easy task, especially for those who haven’t done one before. This project requires a lot of thought and decision-making. But a well-designed and carefully planned deck or porch will make your outdoor living space stand out, so it’s a project worth pursuing.
This article will guide you through the various stages of planning a deck construction project.
Step 1: Identify Your Needs
There’s more to deck building than finding an outdoor area to build it in. The first thing you need to do is determine your reasons for wanting to build a deck.
Consider asking the following questions:
- How is the deck going to be used?
- Will the deck be a relaxing outdoor living room?
- Should it be designed for a specific season or weather?
- Will there be any privacy concerns from neighbors, roads, and commercial areas?
- Will there be an outdoor kitchen and eating area?
- Will the deck have an outdoor fireplace or fire pit?
- Will it be attached to your main house, or will it be a floating deck?
By answering these questions on why you want a deck built, you can conceptualize its design with a purpose in mind. A well-thought-out deck will better serve those who will use it regularly.
Step 2: Conceptualize the Deck Design
Now that you’ve identified the purpose of your deck, it’s time to start collecting ideas for its design. These small deck ideas could be sketches, lists, or images of deck designs that both fit your preference and the deck’s purpose.
Make sure to include as many details as possible in your deck design. Include specific information like:
- Furniture locations
- Furniture clearances and sizes
- Deck decor sizes and location
- Location or layout of stairs and walkways
- Fireplace or fire pit location and sizes
Your deck design will serve as the project’s backbone, and these specific details will help guide you throughout the construction process.
By answering questions on why you want a deck built, you can conceptualize its design with a purpose in mind.
Step 3: Decide If You Will Build It Yourself or Hire a Professional
Once you’ve crafted a detailed style and design, it’s time to decide whether you’ll do the work yourself or hire a professional. Building a deck by yourself is possible and may even help you save money.
But professional deck builders will do the job faster and better because of their experience and network of suppliers. They will also avoid mistakes that you could make, especially if it’s your first time building a deck. They can notice minor issues and know how to avoid or fix any unexpected problems during construction.
If it’s your first time constructing a deck or you plan just to follow a YouTube demo, it’s best to hire a professional to work with you. Deck professionals can look over your design, point out issues, and provide helpful suggestions on how to turn your vision into reality.
Do not hire deck contractors in your area without talking with and thoroughly evaluating them. Reach out to at least three contractors, request a detailed estimate, and ask them the following questions:
- Are they insured? Nobody wants to encounter an expensive problem during the project, but there’s no harm in making sure you’re protected. Ask them about their policy, coverage, and insurance carrier’s name.
- Who is going to do the work? Deck contractors usually send in their own staff to do most of the work, but sometimes, they may rely on other specialists. Make sure to ask who will be working on-site on your project and who will oversee them.
- Does the estimate reflect the overall cost? Estimates don’t always reflect the project’s total cost due to unforeseen complications like needing extra materials, clean-up costs, and permit costs. Ask your contractor what the initial estimate covers.
- Do they have any references? It’s always a good idea to check and talk with your contractor’s previous clients. It’s the best way to understand how they work and find out if they have a history of satisfying their clients. Ask them if they have any contact references and portfolios. You can even go online and check if there are reviews or recommendations about them online.
Step 4: Secure the Necessary Permits
Deck construction is a significant house addition that requires a permit before the start of the project to ensure compliance with building codes and bylaws. It’s essential to get in touch with your local government first and inquire about the necessary permits needed to start construction.
In Maryland, decks with footing support require a building permit. A permit is also required regardless of how high the deck is. Keep in mind that each Maryland county has its own permits and regulations. Some of the counties that require building permits include:
- Montgomery County
- Anne Arundel County
- Baltimore County
- Calvert County
- Charles County
- Howard County
To get a permit, visit the Department of Permitting Services found in each county. They are the department that reviews and approves construction plans.
If you are working with deck builders in Maryland, they’ll be able to help you secure the necessary permits as part of their services and make sure the project follows the county’s regulations.
When spending your budget on the project, consider keeping it simple and focusing on the essentials first.
Step 5: Finalize Your Budget
The project’s budget is an integral part of the planning process. It’s always wise to first consider the costs involved before proceeding with the construction.
The cost of building a deck ranges from $4,084 to $11,259, with labor and materials taking up 50% of the overall budget. The price could also vary depending on the size of the project:
- 8×8-foot Deck: $3,200 to $4,800
- 12×16-foot Deck: $3,700 to $9,500
- 16×16-foot Deck: $7,800 to $15,700
When spending your budget on the project, consider keeping it simple and focusing on the essentials first. Stick to the agreed-upon design and avoid adding items during the construction because the expenses can bloat quickly.
Step 6: Go Over the Construction Plan
At this point, you’ll now be finalizing the plan with your construction team. Deck construction can be a straightforward project depending on your original design. Most deck builders will rely on extensive homeowner input on certain deck-building elements. Discuss the following with your contractors:
- Deck materials: Choosing deck materials is more than just for aesthetic appeal. It’s also important that each type of material varies in cost and has its maintenance requirements. Popular materials include wood, composites, and vinyl.
- Shape and levels: Decks can be round, rectangular, or a combination of the two. Most decks encompass only one story. However, depending on your budget and build location, this can be extended to two or more levels.
- Stairs and railings: Most homeowners go with basic stair railings. For small spaces, a spiral staircase or a ramp can be a good option. Railings can also come in standard wood or contemporary materials like glass, cabling, or metal.
- Enclosures: Some deck designs can have enclosures. Enclosure designs include uncovered, partially covered, fully covered, and screened. Enclosures are beautiful and useful but can be an expensive addition to your deck. Unless it is part of your original design and budget, it’s best to focus on building the main deck structure.
Step 7: Create a Site Plan
The final step before construction is creating a site plan for your yard. The site plan should include an outline of your house and property. Include existing outdoor structures, landscapes, hard surfaces, and other features that might affect the deck’s construction.
A site plan will help your deck builders figure out the most efficient way to build your deck, especially if there are specific building considerations involved, such as:
- Building around trees: A tree can be part of your deck simply by adding extra framing around it. Never use the tree as structural support and provide some allowance for future growth.
- Building on graded areas: Deck builders may suggest using longer posts to level your deck or consider cantilevering the rim joists using steel substructures. The results make for a great architectural feature but require an experienced contractor or engineer to pull off.
- Building on an existing patio or concrete: You may be building over an old patio or a concrete porch. In this case, professional contractors will help assess the existing structure. In most cases, demolition isn’t necessary unless it’s confirmed that the old structure does not support the deck’s weight.
How Long Will a Deck Construction Take?
In theory, it can take one to three weeks to build a standard deck with a staircase and railings. Construction time will depend on the complexity of the design, the choice of materials, and any kind of preparation such as foundation work.
When Is the Best Time to Build a Deck?
You can have a deck constructed any time of the year, and it largely depends on your preferences. However, each season does have its unique quirk.
- Spring — is a popular time to build a deck since completion will happen right before the warmer seasons.
- Summer — start planning during the spring, and you’ll be able to get the deck construction with enough time to enjoy summer.
- Autumn — it’s possible to build during the fall, but builders will have to be careful around falling debris and moist soil.
- Winter — builders prefer the winter because the excavation process is easier due to the cold and firm ground. Winter usually has the shortest waiting queues.
After completing the construction, inspect your newly built deck with your contractors to ensure everything is in order. Go over your original designs with your deck builders to see which part was changed and why. Ideally, you should do this throughout the various construction phases.
Inspecting your deck should help you spot any possible imperfections made during the construction, like misalignments and loose deck screws. Discussing how the project went, your builders can also give important insights that may be useful when you need another deck built or repaired.
Having a deck is a great way to modernize your home and upgrade your outdoor living space. Carefully planning the deck construction not only helps the project go smoothly but also gives you a well-built, highly personalized deck that will serve its purpose for a long time.
G.H. Clark Contractors is the best choice for home exterior projects like decks and concrete patios. Our company has a wide variety of styles that will fit your preferences and budget.
If you plan to build a deck for your home, contact us today to discuss decking ideas and a free estimate.