Everything You Need to Know About Adding a Deck to Your Home

Everything You Need to Know About Adding a Deck to Your Home

Of all new home construction and renovation projects, building a deck is among the most practical. According to experts, you can expect a higher ROI (76%) by adding a deck than any other renovation project. It’s also a perfect way to maximize your outdoor space, as it adds a great deal of square footage to your home for entertainment.

Building a deck is a costly undertaking. Even if you’re not the one building it, it’s time-consuming as well. Proper preparation goes a long way when it comes to ensuring that the job is done correctly, as well as minimizing costs and hassle. Before you get started on your deck project, read this article to help you prepare.

Budget and Cost

Your first step is to budget for the overall project. When estimating your project’s overall cost, you should account for the cost of materials (timber, screws, nails) as well as any professional services you may need ( engineering and design). The size of the deck will also play a role in determining the cost; larger decks require more lumber and staining, which translates to higher costs. The average cost to build your deck is $7,320, but luxury decks can cost up to $20,000. If you live in an expensive area like California or New York, you may need to budget even higher.

DIY vs. Professional Contractor

You’ll also need to decide whether DIY or hiring a professional contractor would be your best option. DIYing has its advantages:

  • You can save money on labor costs
  • You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you built it yourself
  • You can customize the project to your own preferences

A DIY approach is only a good idea if you have the necessary skills and experience to build a deck. Building one can be complicated, and even seasoned DIYers should consider hiring professionals for complex projects.

Hiring a professional deck builder eliminates any potential risks associated with DIYing, such as not following proper building codes or installing it incorrectly. They range in price from $8 to $22 per square foot, and can make up about half of the total cost of your deck. Most homeowners who choose this route find it to be worth it in the long run, as it ensures safety, security, and convenience throughout the entire project.

Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Before you begin any construction work, it’s important that you check with your local municipality to see what kind of permits are required for such a project. Depending on where you live, there may be regulations or restrictions in place regarding the height and size of decks as well as setback requirements.

Many neighborhoods are governed by HOA (Homeowners Association) regulations that have guidelines for building a deck. Ensure you thoroughly research these requirements before proceeding with the project to avoid any problems or delays later on.

Planning and Design

Once you have your budget sorted and a contractor selected, you can finally move on to the planning and design phase of your deck-building journey. Start by determining the primary purpose of your deck: do you want a space for relaxing, dining, entertaining, or a combination of these? Consider the number of people who will regularly use the deck and any furniture or features you’d like to include. .A few design features to consider when planning your deck:

  • Accessibility and safety (stairs, ramps, and railings)
  • Special barriers and gates for children
  • Weatherproofing features like canopies, awnings, and sunshades
  • Privacy screens or fencing
  • Lighting options, such as LED canopy lights

The ideal layout of your deck may include single or multi-level structures, as well as various shapes and configurations. You can sketch out your ideas or (if you’re building it on your own) use CAD software to visualize the final result.

Preparing the Construction Site

Before you can begin the construction of your deck, it’s important to make sure the area is properly prepared. This includes clearing and preparing the area, ensuring proper drainage and grading, as well as taking necessary precautions to protect existing landscaping. Hiring a contractor means this portion of your deck build is taken care of for you. However, if you’re planning to DIY your deck, it’s important that you understand the basics of site preparation.

If the location has a slope or is uneven, use landscape fabric and gravel to create a level surface before laying down the decking boards. Take steps to ensure proper drainage by installing drains around the perimeter of the deck. If you’re building your deck near any existing landscaping, cover the area with a tarp and secure it in place to protect your plants from being damaged during construction.

Timeline and Project Management

Plan on anywhere from six to 16 weeks to build your deck to completion.  While the average timeline is usually between eight and 12 weeks, this could vary depending on factors like size, complexity of design, materials used, and weather conditions. Have a clear idea of how long it will take to build your deck before you start any construction work.

Either you or your contractor will start by creating a project timeline that outlines key milestones, such as obtaining permits, ordering materials, and completing each phase of construction. Be sure to include buffer time to account for any unexpected delays or setbacks. This timeline will serve as your roadmap throughout the project and help you monitor progress, making adjustments as needed.

Building and Completing Your Deck

Once all of the necessary tools, materials, and permits are in place, construction begins. Although you have a specified timeline, you might need to plan for small hiccups throughout the process. Weather, unexpected adjustments, and even simple human error can cause delays. Have some flexibility built into your expectations in case of any problems.

Throughout construction, your contractor will regularly check in with you to make sure everything is going as planned and provide updates on progress. Once the deck is complete, they will go through a final inspection with you to ensure that all work meets safety standards.


With these essential tips for preparing for your deck-building project, you’ll be one step closer to creating the outdoor living space of your dreams. Consider factoring in time for delays, unexpected surprises, and adjustments along the way to ensure a successful build.  Don’t forget to factor in time for rest and relaxation after all that hard work is over.