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Planning a deck build? Check out these helpful tips!

An outdoor deck is a place to relax, entertain, and enjoy your property. From grilling to reading the latest novel, this multipurpose outdoor structure really completes any home. There are a few things to consider though when building a deck. From 2000 – 2008, over 30 deaths were reported due to decks collapsing so having the right tools, material, and knowledge can literally save lives.

One of the big problems facing DIY decks is knowledge. People diving headfirst into any construction project without doing the proper research or without having experience is very risky. Therefore, first and foremost, do your homework!

The designing process is extremely important and needs the proper time and thought put into it in order to reap the reward of a well-planned, well-built, functional outdoor space. Following are some important design tips to think about while in the design portion of your build.

Designing your deck to be in proportion to the footprint of your house is very important. A 1,000 square foot deck on a 1,000 square foot house may be overdoing it! Think your design through thoroughly and create a design that is functional and will compliment your property as a whole.

Think functionally! We are sure you have an idea of what activities you would want to host on your deck and how many people would be using the space on an average basis. Use those mental notes to create a space that will accommodate both so after you’ve invested in the new structure you won’t have any regrets or future builds to look forward to. A multi-leveled deck design can be a great option to consider when in this process as it allows you to break out sections and designate certain areas for certain activities and custom build the deck to them!

Don’t cut corners when building your deck! Make sure all measurements are correct. Undersized wood increases the likelihood of the deck collapsing and won’t distribute weight properly. Do not deviate from the plans that were approved by your municipal building department.

Pay attention to the stairs! A misplaced step on the stairs of your deck can be very dangerous, especially if you don’t have railings or your risers were left open. Avoid future injury by installing a sturdy railing next to your staircase and covering your risers to prevent injuries.

Lighting your deck will not only have safety benefits but the proper placement of the lights will go a long way to highlighting focal points within the space! Incorporating a spa or a pergola with some plantings? You may want to think about properly lighting these additions to get the most form them!

Remember that your deck is outside so it must withstand the elements. If you don’t use the proper materials your deck is a danger to all that step foot on it. Weather-resistant material will protect your wood from rotting and deteriorating, keeping it safe and sturdy for your next party. This is important’ as unsealed wood is one of the biggest mistakes we have seen over the years. This can add age to your deck and will have it deteriorating at a much faster rate.

Before you start building, make sure you go through the proper channels. You have to go to your local city/town hall and obtain a deck-building permit before you start. A lot of deck-related mishaps could have been avoided if the builder got a permit. These permits are here to make sure you’re not building a deck somewhere dangerous, you have the right materials, and you know what you’re doing. If you are planning a second story deck, plans should be prepared by an AIA Architect to ensure safety standards are met. These crucial steps can save you a lot of money, time, and effort!

If after reading this article your dream of building your own deck seems like you may have bitten off more than you can chew you are not alone. Many of our past clients have reached this point, but the good news is you do have options!

Depending on your property and how creative you want to get, you may want to consider installing a custom patio instead of a deck. Patios provide unlimited creative options when it comes to shape, style, color and function and can be installed to complement your landscape perfectly.

Whichever route you choose, we’ve attempted to shine some light on some of the pitfalls we often see homeowners falling victim to. This does not change the fact that we strongly advise against handling this work yourself and suggest consulting your local professional beforehand to avoid mishaps and receive the best design and option possible.