How to Build a Great Deck (Planning)

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deck planningDeck Designs
Every great deck begins with a good solid plan. When considering building a new deck, it is important to start with a clean slate. Usually someone is replacing an existing deck, but that does not mean that one should think about it in the parameters of what they already have. The first thing to look at is, “function.” What does the deck need to do? For example, which doors does it need to service?

Where will the grill go? What is the best place for the dining area? Moreover, if it has stairs, where should they land? Can they be position to face the sun to avoid icy and dangerous steps? Depending on the circumstances, there may be a lot more to account for, but let us just start with the basics. The next thought goes to shape and size.  For many this is where dreams are tempered by budget. For those few to whom money is not an issue, the possibilities are endless. Leaving money aside for now, the two main things to start with are the lines and dimensions of the house and the existing landscapes. However, before a person can even put a pencil to paper, it is imperative to go to your local building department and find out what your boundaries are. By this I mean, what are your set backs from property lines? Are there any utility easements to be aware of? Is there a flood plain, and is a soil test necessary? I know that this is a lot to find out, but if your violate code in any of these areas, the building department can and will make you stop, tear down and start over.

Okay, so now you have the green light to make a plan, and trust me, you need a solid plan. If you think you can wing it and sort of make it up as you go, you’re going to run into a whole mess of trouble. You’ll want to start by drafting how much area will be covered on your house, in other words, how long is your ledger board and where does it start and stop? Maybe, your existing deck will already determine this, but if not, you must think about where things are on your house. I mean, you would not want the edge of the deck to be located directly under the middle of a window. In addition, think about “curb appeal”, a term which I will use a lot throughout this process. Depending on how your house is positioned on the property, maybe bringing the ledger board out to the edge of the house might make the deck visible from the street. After all, what good is a gorgeous deck, if you can’t show it off? To be continued...

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