Deck designs are no longer 10’ x 10’ squares made of low grade lumber. They’ve become an extension of your living space, a focal point, and a place you’ll spend considerable time. Deck building has also become complex to build due to more stringent building codes, a limitless amount of decking and railing materials (such as composite decking or wood) to choose from, and countless bells and whistles designed to enhance the outdoor experience.
It is therefore imperative that you get advice from a professional deck designer and deck builder who not only understands all these variables, but also one who cares. Prior to making recommendations to you, a deck contractor should address the following items:
What is your budget for your custom deck building project?
A budget is imperative if you want an accurate estimate for a custom deck project that will suit your needs. You didn’t purchase your home or your car without a budget and you shouldn’t expect to effectively invest in your house without one. As local deck builders in Halifax, we understand the market and can design the project around your budget.
Are there any zoning restrictions?
Every house has front, side, and rear setbacks that determine how close you can build to your property lines. Every lot also has a maximum amount that can be covered by structures. This (lot coverage) comes into play more frequently since lot sizes continue to decrease while house sizes continue to increase.
Have you checked with your Home Owners Association?
An item often overlooked by other decking companies, you need to verify what your HOA requires prior to building your deck. Restrictions on deck size, deck design, and decking and railing materials are not uncommon.
Next comes the design phase. As a deck designer, as well as a deck builder, we can guide you throughout the entire deck design process where you’ll want to consider some of the following things and possibly more.
What are your individual tastes, your lifestyle, and how will you use the custom deck? Where’s the best place for steps? What will the traffic patterns be? How much space do you need for a table and chairs? How much space do you need for a BBQ grill? What’s the best location for your BBQ grill? What are your expectations of the decking and railing materials? What do deck warranties cover? How will your deck enhance Nova Scotia’s beautiful views? How will your deck affect the views from inside your home? How can you make the deck compliment your home? What’s the value of your home and how much will a deck add to the value? Do you plan to sell in the near future?
This is an investment of your money into your home. Don’t entrust this investment into the hands of anyone other than a professional deck builder or contractor who has your best interests in mind.
In the deck planning stage, try to keep only budget, design and aesthetics in mind. Details such as structure and footing locations will be determined after the deck planning process is complete. We can quickly assess quantity and proper materials required for the structure. If you have any questions at any time, feel free to contact us. If your deck plan incorporates a sunroom design, you can learn more about sunroom additions here.
Size of Deck
Are you replacing an existing deck and expanding? Is it a blank canvas for a backyard? If so, you will want to also establish a plan for the whole backyard and incorporate the deck into the yard with all your landscaping desires. A larger size deck does allow for more options such as tiered levels. Nobody has ever regretted building a bigger deck.
Next is the functionality of your custom deck. A multi-level deck with many angles and stairs may look good on paper, but once built, it can prove to be a problem with placement and size of patio furniture and accessories. Try to incorporate the furniture and accessories you want in advance. This will save you shopping for something that will fit after the deck is built. Those being said, imagine entertaining guests on the deck. Make sure the size of deck, any tiered levels, placement of furniture and accessories allow for easy movement and spacious seating. Functionality is key to a successful deck party or just for you and that special someone. This is especially important for pool deck design & building, and hot tub deck design & building, as the custom deck should complement these central features.
Deck Stairs or Ramps
Most mistakes made in stair planning are what looks good on paper vs. site conditions. The height from finished grade or finished landscaping to the top of the deck will determine how many stairs you have. A good example is that you may like the idea of having a 2 step/3 rise on your drawing, but the height is 25″-30″. With a 30″ height, you would have to have a 3 step/4 rise set of stairs. Each rise would be 7 1/2″, which is a perfect height. Stair rise should be kept between 7″ and 8″. Anything above 8″ feels uncomfortable or like a chore to walk up. A rise below 7″ sometimes feels like stumbling or short stepping up the stairs. Also locate the stairs for optimum functionality.
If you would like to include a wheelchair ramp in your deck design please contact us and we will go over all necessary requirements. All-Craft is a Certified Ageing in Place Specialist (CAPS). We understand the sensitivity when designing with accessibility features like wheelchair ramps. We design and build using building requirements but also applying our creativity to allow your features to blend in with the overall design of your outdoor living space.
Now think about decking material, such as wood or composite decking. Forget about the structure for a moment and think of the finished product. What is aesthetically pleasing to you? Obviously low maintenance is by far the best looking and, of course, requires the least amount of maintenance. However, many people are against the low maintenance simply based on the price. A couple of things to keep in mind are, what will it cost to stain a wood deck every year or two? What is the life expectancy of a wood deck vs a low maintenance deck? Right now there are low maintenance manufacturers offering 25 even 30 year warranties.
Low maintenance decking material is a much more durable product and in some cases, a heavier product, thus increasing the specifications and cost of the structure. Therefore, the long and short of it, is a treated deck is less expensive but will not last near as long as maintenance free. If you are shopping prices of low maintenance products, and notice that some are cheaper than others, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Skirting/Enclosing the Deck
Do you want to have your deck closed off? It does look pretty good, but if you are low enough to the ground, it may not be necessary. Do you plan to store a lawnmower or other yard maintenance equipment and want an access incorporated?
Railing at this point should be a fairly easy decision. If you decided to build a treated deck, you can choose either treated railing or low maintenance. If you chose to build a low maintenance deck, it is now a decision of what kind of low maintenance material to use. Aluminum railing is a popular choice with various color and spindle options available. The low maintenance decking manufacturers also supply matching rail systems which are very attractive. Spindled railing is cheaper than glass inserts, but glass does really open up the deck.
Structure at this point is already determined by Nova Scotia Building Codes. It is important to review and comply with City of Halifax license and permits for your custom deck, as well as filling out the application form and deck construction detail sheet. This is a step All-Craft Decks & Sunrooms takes care of for all its clients.