With the weather we’ve had lately, you may doubt if spring will ever come. But even if we skip spring altogether this year, summer will eventually appear. So, rain or not, it is time to start planning for a great season of outdoor living.
Building a deck is a project that can be started now and enjoyed by the end of the summer.
Adding a deck is one of few remodeling projects you can start now and finish in time to enjoy this summer. It is a doable project for most homeowners. There are just a few items to consider and prepare before you start.
The first issue is to decide where to put the deck. Most decks are attached to the house, usually on the side or back. Consider the amount of sun, shade and wind a potential location receives throughout the year. For many homes, there is only one logical place for a deck. If that spot is less than ideal in terms of climatic influences, you can usually still make it a pleasing outdoor space with a little extra effort by using landscaping, trellises or shading devices.
You will also need to check local building codes. Call your local zoning office, and ask what your setback requirements are. (This defines the buildable area on your lot.) Then, ask about restrictions for decks that project into the setback area. Also, remember to check with Blue Stakes of Utah to see if there are any restrictions as to where you can dig to place footings. Call 811 before you dig, and they will locate your underground utility lines for free.
Next, decide how big your deck will be. Think about the activities you want to take place on the deck, and decide how much space you will need to accommodate them. Balance that with the fact the deck should be designed in proportion to your house, and then come to a final determination of the size. (A general guideline is that your deck should not be much larger than the largest room in your house.)
Next, think about the connection between the house and the deck. A pair of French or sliding doors provides both a view of the deck and easy access. If you are going to install a new door, do this before you build the deck. In addition, consider the connection between the deck and the yard. For instance, a narrow set of stairs will not feel as gracious as wider ones, and the wider steps can be used for additional seating or a display of potted plants.
There are several materials from which to choose when building a deck. Cedar, cypress, and redwood are the standard options for natural, untreated wood. While these woods start out with a warm reddish hue, they will weather to silver gray if steps are not taken to preserve the original color. Pressure-treated lumber such as pine, fir and other softwoods are also options for exterior uses.
Man-made materials are also available. Some maintenance-free options include composites made from wood fibers mixed with plastic, vinyl or rubber. These products are improving in their attempt to mimic the look of natural woods, and they have definite advantages when it comes to ease of maintenance. They come in several choices of textures and colors, which give homeowners many design options.
Decks can be a real asset to your lifestyle and property value. The Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report 2010-11 reported that midrange deck-remodeling projects recouped 66-72 percent of their original cost, with real wood giving the highest rate of return. However, these figures are based on you hiring the work. Hiring a contractor to build your deck may cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000. If you do it yourself, you can save 40 percent or more. For example, a 10-by-12-foot deck of pressure-treated wood will average from $500-$1,200 if you supply the labor. To have someone do the work, the cost range expands to $2,000-$3,500.
However you accomplish it, adding a new deck should enhance both your property value and your quality of life. If the sun ever does shine, you will be ready for a summer of wonderful gatherings and meals with your friends and family on your lovely new deck.
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com , a local design firm specializing in home remodels.