Decks are a wonderful way to extend your living space. If you want to host a family barbecue or enjoy an evening with friends, a deck is just the place. Decks bring people together for hours upon hours of outdoor fun and relaxation. But not all decks are created equal, and the features you personally find important in a deck may not match what your neighbor wants. Constructing a deck of your dreams requires proper planning, and the work begins before you even break ground.
What You Need to Consider When Building a Deck
What elements should you consider as part of your deck design? Creating a deck design plan is the best way to make sure your deck will be the outdoor living space you envision it to be. Let’s discuss how your deck can be a mini oasis when planned properly. Ask yourself the following questions:
What features do I want?
Features are large and take up space, and every inch needs to be accounted for in a deck design plan. As you create the layout of your deck, make a list of the must-have features you want to incorporate into your blueprint. Need some inspiration? Popular deck features include a:
- Hot tub
- Built-in grill
- Built-in cooking area with countertops
- Lights or other electrical components
- Entertainment or music center
If you do not plan to have “built-in” features, that does not mean you should skip this step altogether. Anything placed on your deck will take up room, such as:
- Stand-alone grill
- Table and chairs
- Lounge chairs
- Potted plants
- Outdoor heaters
- Outdoor misters
You want your deck to flow, to feel roomy, and to be accommodating. To accomplish this goal takes some forethought (and a bit of math, too).
What size of the deck is allowed on my property?
Before you get too excited about having a ginormous deck with numerous features, you need to find out what size deck you can legally build on your property. City and county building codes might interrupt your grand plans. Take the time to check the regulations of your city and county municipalities. They probably have building code requirements regarding:
- Deck height
- Decking materials
Plus, you will most likely need a permit (or two or three) to construct your deck. You should always take the time and effort to acquire the necessary permits needed to build a deck. <
How much ground will my deck cover?
This question goes hand-in-hand with the size of the deck allowed on your property. Zoning regulations can dictate how much natural ground you cover up on your property. Any kind of artificial structure, from a shed to a concrete basketball court, adds to a property’s impervious surfaces or surfaces made up of water-resistant materials. A certain percentage of your property must allow water or rainfall to naturally infiltrate the ground and soil, and a deck will take away from that percentage. Once again, it is always best to check in with your city and county municipalities before you build a deck.
What type of decking materials would I like to use?
This is a loaded question that comes with multiple follow-up questions to consider:
- Will that decking material require regular, long-term upkeep? Wood decking maintenance is not the same as composite decking maintenance.
- Is that decking material appropriate for the climate? The state of Colorado experiences plenty of winter weather that some other states do not get.
- What is the weight capacity of my selected decking material, and will that weight capacity accommodate my needs? The weight capacity of your deck is connected to a proper design and the correct construction of that design, but decking materials also play a part in the strength and durability of your deck.
Decking materials are a big component of your deck. While they certainly contribute to the look and appearance of your deck, the material you choose also has a big impact on the longevity of your deck.
Additional Questions to Think About
Building a deck is an investment – an investment that takes proper planning. It is imperative to think about the size, style, design, and layout of your deck before you start the construction process, especially if you have a specific vision in mind. Other vital questions to ask yourself include:
- What is my budget?
- Will my deck be covered or uncovered?
- Have I checked the location of the utility lines?
- Will I hire a registered contractor?
- Does my neighborhood have an HOA, and if so, does the HOA have certain rules regarding decks?
- A deck might affect my property value, and if it does, am I prepared for how that will affect my property taxes?
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of creating a deck design, take the process in stages. Carefully consider what elements you find important in a deck, and go from there. If what you want is outside your budget, wait a year or two until you can save up for that dream deck. Creating a deck design plan is worth the work to ensure your deck will meet your needs and expectations.