All Decked Out

There’s nothing like extending the square footage of your home into the great outdoors of your property. Decks are always a popular way to enjoy your yard and to entertain. Deck sizes and styles can really run the gamut, from the basic ground-level wood deck to multi-level composite decks with hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, pergolas, and other amenities. Below are a few important considerations when planning a deck for your home.

Purpose: Do you just want a small area in your back yard to sit and maybe have your grill or do you want an expansive area to entertain that is an extension of your home? Start with your main reason for installing the deck and that will guide you through the next steps in the decision making process.

Scale: Make sure you consider the scale of the deck relative to your home and the size of your yard. You don’t want a structure that looks overwhelming for your home or overtakes the entire yard.

Layout and Design: You may just want a basic rectangular shape with some access to your home and your yard. On the other hand, you may want something unique with a variety of shapes and levels. This decision will likely depend quite a bit on what you determined for the purpose of your deck and the proper scale. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on design. There are so many possibilities with decks, you don’t just have to have the same deck you see on thousands of homes.  Keep in mind, though, that the more custom and complicated your deck is, the higher the cost will be.

Materials: Decide what’s important to you in selecting materials. Durability, appearance, and maintenance are the most important factors here. There are many options available to you, including basic wood (pressure treated lumber), hardwoods (like Ipe), or composite materials. They all have different benefits depending on your priorities. Cost is a big variable in selecting materials as well.

Budget: This is listed further down the line because you should start from a place of what your dream deck would be, based on the earlier considerations. Once you’ve determined those things, set a maximum budget and make adjustments from there. If you’re going to undertake a project like this, don’t start by asking yourself “What could I build for $x?” Start with what is important to you and then determine if it fits your budget. If it doesn’t, then make some adjustments to the project to match your budget.

DIY or Pro?: A very basic deck is something many homeowners with reasonable carpentry knowledge can build. If you decide to go the DIY route,  be sure to apply for all permits and research all applicable building codes. There are many strict regulations now that you must follow when building a deck and it can be onerous for anyone not familiar with them. Hiring a pro to build it for you will cost significantly more, but they can take care of the plans, permits, inspections, and construction. They will also be able to complete the project much faster. A deck can be a fun and manageable job for many avid DIY homeowners. Just be ready to put lots of planning time in before digging that first footer!

It can be great to extend the living area of your home to your back yard with a deck. As with any project, just be sure to decide the features most important to you and how much you have to spend; decks can be quite expensive. In addition, don’t forget about the value added to your home.

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