It’s a hot day and there’s nothing like sipping a cool drink on your back deck – if you had one. It’s easy to imagine the end goal, but quite another thing to actually bring it to fruition.
Building a deck this spring and summer starts with a solid plan. Knowing what you want and knowing what you can or can’t do is the first part of the challenge.
A good place to start is by reviewing local building codes and municipal bylaws. Whether you plan to build the deck yourself or hire a contractor, it’s good to be familiar with these regulations. You will generally be required to get a building permit for a deck in your yard.
Purpose and budget
Like any project, the first place to start is by outlining how you intend to use your space. Outdoor spaces can be used for cooking, dining, lounging, entertaining and even playing. You deck should flow seamlessly into your outdoor space and accommodate not only you and your family, but your guests.
Determining this purpose will not only influence design, but will influence your budget. Design features and materials are only one expense to be considered for your budget. Consider the costs of hiring a contractor or trades – if you’re not doing it yourself – as well as the cost of building permits and tools or rentals you may need.
Draw out the space available in your yard and identify all fixed components – trees, sprinklers, utility meters, water faucets and even underground utility lines. Envision your deck and the spaces you will require. Consider:
- Is the deck attached to your home or will it standalone?
- Is the deck on multiple levels? Is it a platform on the ground or raised above?
- What area is required for each space? What furniture will be placed in each area?
Decks are typically square, but don’t be afraid to use angles or curves as part of your floor plans. The main floor plans will determine what is structurally required, such as footings and framing.
Ensure the framing accommodates how you want the deck boards to run, particularly if you plan to use a pattern. Identify features such as a hot tub, which would require additional structure to support its weight. Use wooden stakes and a string, or even a garden hose, to map out the floor plan dimensions in your yard and adjust as need be.
Next, work your way through design decisions. Think about the impact of the elements: sun and shade, wind and rain. Do you need electrical done for lighting, outlets or sound systems? Think about privacy from your neighbours using screens or walls. Planters, benches, pergolas and roofs should all be part of the design phase.
Once design is complete, begin looking at the details. Will you use treated lumber or composite materials for your deck. Railings can be wood, vinyl, glass, aluminum or wrought iron in a standard or complex pattern. Your roof can also be wood, metal or fibreglass, custom built or purchased – just ensure it can withstand any potential snow loads. Prepare for the future when making selections as some materials require more maintenance than others.
Work with your local Co-op Home Centre to quote and source materials for your project. Ensure you have the floor plans and dimensions available. Based on budget, you may want to make adjustments to your plans.
Construction projects can be frustrating, so expect challenges and changed plans. While best-laid plans may go awry, they will get you one step closer to having your feet up and enjoying your backyard oasis.