Adding a new deck design to your home? Be sure to plan ahead to find the best possible deck design to perfectly match your home aesthetics.
Review the following deck planning considerations.
1 Where will the deck be located on your home?
Design the new deck location area similar to adding a room onto your home. Would you end a room in the middle of a window? No. Remembering to keep your deck away from windows by up to two feet will prevent your looking out the window at a railing. Many decks have an entrance to the home by the kitchen through the dining area. In areas of the country with heavy snowfall, you may want to step down a step or two to keep standing snow away from the door threshold and laying against your door. 4" lower than the door is a common minimum height in snow country.
2 Site/ Plot Plan
When you purchased your home your realtor should have included a copy of our site/ plot plan in your contract. Your local zoning department may have a copy on file if you do not have a plot plan. This plan shows you the property setbacks and easement lines that require you to not build past certain parameters. Your local building department can help you with this when you apply for your new deck building permit. In some townships and counties you may not be required to apply for a building permit.
3 Deck Layout and Design
Begin by getting a feel for the size of the new deck you will be building. Use two foot increments when deciding your deck size. The reason for this is lumber is cut to 8', 10', 12', and 16' lengths. This will reduce scrap materials and save you money. Remember that decks are NOT symmetrical to the back of the home. Decks are most common to to one side or the other. This is an important consideration in the layout of your new deck.
4 Deck Sizing
To determine your deck size list the uses of the deck. Then ask yourself how much room will I need? The average outdoor area is between 12% - 18% of the square footage for the home. Most people use their deck for dining or entertaining outside. Built-in hot tubs, spas, screen rooms, and outdoor kitchen areas are becoming more popular in modern deck designs.
5 Deck Dining Areas
Will you be dining on your deck? One modern trend is to build a bump-out (It may be an octagon) to push the table and chairs off the main deck floor and give the dining area a designated space.
6 Privacy Walls
Is privacy needed from your neighbors or your street? Deck builders offer a privacy wall option. If this is limited to the sides of the deck it avoids the "feeling of being trapped in a fish bowl."
7 Deck Access
How will you get off and on the deck? The side of the house where you walk to get to the back yard may be the best spot to enter the new deck. Stairways are heavily regulated by your local building department. A width of 36" is as narrow as you can build. The rise (height between steps) should be between 7" - 8". The run or "tread" of the step should b between 10" - 12" deep. Large staircases are nice to look at and are appealing to quickly access your backyard, still most staircases are 36" - 48" wide. If you have a two story deck consider a landing midway in the stairway. This will minimize a fall and reduce injuries. Each township or county will have specifications of how a staircase is attached to the deck frame and whether or not it will need a railing.
8 Grill Location
Where will your grill go? Keep your grill by the door but not next to the house. You also have the option to run a permanent gas line run under your deck to your grill. This will save you the trips to refill your propane tank.
9 Shade Solutions
Will you need shade? One solution is to install a custom awning over your deck. This can be very costly and may even exceed the price of your new deck. One popular alternative choice is to build a pergola or arbor into the design of the deck. A pergola can be installed with various styles, shapes, and materials. Pergolas and arbors provide shade to the areas they cover. If you need total shade consider a roof covered deck or a screened in porch option.
10 Deck Seating
Would you rather have a railing around the deck or seating? In many areas if your new deck is higher than 18" off the ground you will need a railing around the deck perimeter. A typical railing height is 36 inches. If your deck stands higher than 10 feet off the ground a 42" - 48" tall railing may be needed. If you are building a wooden deck and you would like to have seating built into the design an option is composite lumber. This composite (plastic) lumber helps to eliminate splintering and warping that happens over time with wood seating.
Bottom Line - Be sure the deck fits your needs and desires before the process of building the new deck is started. Then check the deck builders list of references to ensure the quality you desire for the construction of your new deck will happen.
Decks & Fences Labor Materials Subcontractor Total
Joist & Rim Joists
Building Permit / Contracting Information
What is the deck height below the door?
What is the attachment method to the home?
Attached or Detached
Dumpster size / Disposal method
Are new electrical outlets or lighting desired?
Any heating vents needing moving or notching around?
Additional items to move?
Is a 3 or 4 seasons room a future option?
Would one of these be desired quoted vs a deck?
If constructed with wooden material who will apply the paint and staining in the future? Is this desired quoted?
What material is desired under the deck? Weaving, solid, or open space?
Are benches or seating desired? If so note locations and sizes.
What post size is needed for the deck construction?
Will post covers be desired? Decorative posts? Stone or brick posts?
Note: It is recommended NOT to end a deck in the middle of a window or sliding door opening.
Remember home flashing - Z flashing and home wrap/ ice guard/ termite shield behind the deck rim joist.
Protect the home and plants as possible and note recommendations when plantings are needed to be moved. Scaffolding may be used to help protect these planted areas.
Are deck flower boxes or planters desired?
How many staircases? 1 typically
How many steps?
Note the stairway location and width.
Type of Railing?
Type of Decking?
Style of decking application? Any patterns?
Lawn and soil will be damaged - Note and include seed/ sod as needed
Are there any specific requests concerning the way the work should be done? Fastening?
What is the date the work is desired to be done by? Is the scheduling of the contractor and homeowner compatible?
Remember the saying you can have only 2 items with new deck construction. Quality, service, and price. ONLY 2 of the 3. Which of the 2 is priority for you when determining your deck contractor? Be sure to discuss this with your potential deck contractor(s) to find the right contractor for construction of your new deck project.
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