7 Things You Should Consider When Building a Backyard Deck



Are you thinking of sprucing up your yard with a deck? How about adding resale value to your home? Chances are, if you clicked on this link you are at least a little curious – what exactly does it take to build yourself a deck that will look great and last for years? It’s easy to make entertaining that much more fun, when you have the perfect space to do it. One of my favorite TV channels is HGTV, and I have often found myself getting lost in the world of Property Brothers and Income Property – how do these DIY-ers do it?! They make it look so easy! Well, it’s not always as easy as it looks, and these TV shows have a team of licensed contractors to do the work for them.

One day, I was sitting in my office on the computer, doing some research for a client. I came across this great article written by Mark Weisleder, a real estate lawyer, author & speaker. He says there are 7 things to consider when you’re building a backyard deck. Yes, you really can do it, but probably not by yourself. Yes, it really could be that easy, but only if you follow these steps:

1. Get a Building Permit

The City of Barrie requires that you need a permit if your deck is going to be attached to your house. In addition, there are various restrictions on the height and area of the deck, as well as the percentage of your lot it covers. At the end of the day, it is best to play it safe and acquire a building permit, regardless of whether or not you think you need one. If you ever decide to sell your home, having a building permit will make it easier to answer questions, and it certainly won’t hurt the resale value! Click here to see the City of Barrie’s permit application requirements.

2. Choose Your Material

Composite wood is a great alternative to using real wood. It is low maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about getting slivers or re-staining it every couple of years. However, real wood is also great and many people prefer to stick with the tried and true. The foundation of most decks is usually pressure treated wood, and the veneer and railings are usually cedar. David Power, President of www.thedeckbuilders.com in Toronto advises to leave at least a one-quarter inch gap between each piece of wood.

3. Size Matters

When it comes to the size of your deck, size really does matter. As mentioned before, different cities have different rules, but the City of Barrie has certain restrictions on size. Once your deck has been built, the city will do an inspection to make sure it was built correctly and is safe to use. It would be a shame to put money into your deck only to have to deconstruct it!

4. DIY vs. Expert

Hiring a professional to build your deck for you is usually the best idea. There are lots of problems that could arise if your deck is not built properly. Rotting, collapsing, water damage in the basement, injuries and liability are all legitimate concerns if you don’t know what you’re doing. It may be worth it in the long run to put out a bit of money now to hire an expert, so that later on you will not have to put out even more money if disaster ensues. A deck that is built properly should last for at least 20 years. It is always a good idea to search for references and/or reviews of the expert you are considering hiring. Always look for work that they have done elsewhere.

5. Plan Ahead, Design Successfully

It is important to decide why you’re building a deck, before you begin the design process. How much space for entertainment do you need? Do you want to have family and friends over for BBQ’s? Or do you just want a quiet place to sit and relax? How high do you want your deck to be? Will you need a privacy screen so you don’t have to wave to your neighbor every time you want to soak up some sun? What kind of patio furniture do you want, and where will you put it? You also need to take into account the layout of your yard and how this might affect the size and shape of your deck. If you have a hot tub, you may prefer to build around it so that it is close to your home – that means a shorter sprint in the winter! Or, you may prefer to move the hot tub to another area of the yard if you need more entertaining space. These are all things you need to take into account ahead of time so that you can plan for them in your budget.

6. Protection & Guard Rails

In order to prevent injuries, there are rules and regulations about guard rails. Chances are, if your deck is higher than 24 inches off the ground, you will need a guard rail. Depending on the distance from the ground, there are different required guard rail heights. Regardless, it is best to check with your City regulations to ensure your deck is legal.

7. Deck & Home Inspections for Resale Homes

A deck should always be included in a home inspection when you’re buying or selling a home. Your home inspector will be able to tell you whether or not the deck is safe or deficient in any way, and if it is deficient, your inspector can also tell you if it needs to be replaced due to poor construction.

At the end of the day, your goal should be to have a safe and beautiful deck that fulfills its purpose to you. Planning ahead is important, it will ensure your design works best for you, and it will also help you stay on budget. Make sure you have a building permit for your deck and that it complies with all construction by-laws. Sometimes it is better to shell out some money to hire a professional, especially considering the consequences if you don’t know what you’re doing. Building a deck is a huge value-add to your home, and it will last for years, so make sure it is exactly what you want so it’s built to last!

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