Building a deck is a great way to extend your living space to the outdoors. And of course, here in Australia where outdoor living reigns supreme, decks can bring massive value to your home.

Decks often come in different sizes and shapes. They can be simple, unassuming grade level platforms with no frills and whistles.

Or a complicated affair of multi-layered structure with all the fixtures – think, railings, pergolas, built-in benches, pools, and planters.

There is a gamut of deck options available to you. So, before you begin work on a project to add a deck to your home, here are five tips for building great decks you may want to consider.

Determine Your Wants and Needs

Your lifestyle, preference, and what you intend to achieve should guide your choice of deck design.

Make sure your deck enhances your quality of life. Ask yourself the questions below to help you clarify and drill down on your needs.

  • Are you going to be entertaining and dining on the deck frequently or plan to place a hot tub or pool in the space?
  • Will built-in seating work fine with what you have in mind? Or deck seats more suitable?
  • What kind of view are you looking to create?
  • Will there be any added accented finishing like planter boxes?

While these questions are not exhaustive, they offer great pointers to the things you should consider before adding a deck to your home.

Do You Need a Permit?

Check with your local council building code to see what kind of home improvement you can legally make on your property.

Most councils may require prior approval before you can begin building the deck. Be sure you understand what the requirements are and obtain all necessary permits.

Although this may seem like a hassle now, it will save you a ton of pain down the road. Also, not following the building code in your neighbourhood could become a serious problem when it is time to sell.

Choose Deck Materials Carefully

Quality deck material paired with solid construction are the two most essential parts of building a great deck.

When selecting deck materials, you want to choose materials that guarantee longevity, are durable, require minimal maintenance, and add to the aesthetics of your home.

Typical deck materials are pressure-washed cedar woods, composite timber, and vinyl decking. Each has its merits and downside.

For instance, pressure-treated woods are cost-effective; however, they require regular maintenance.

Composite timbers while more expensive than woods are known for performance, longevity, and ease of maintenance.

On the other hand, vinyl is the most durable and requires the least amount of maintenance.

When selecting deck material, you want to decide what is most important to you: aesthetics or cost or longevity or ease of maintenance. Then choose the material that best fits your needs.

Do You Intend to Hire Deck Builders or DIY?

Are you DIYing the project, or do you intend to hire a contractor to handle it? If you are contracting the project out, you want to make sure the deck builder is experienced, has insurance coverage, is a member in good standing of trades associations, and has an excellent reputation.

Read reviews from past clients and check their portfolio (most builders will include past projects they are proud of on their site) to see if they are a good fit for you.

But, of course, the best way to assess your deck builder is to ask them questions directly, such as:

  • How long have they been building decks?
  • Do you need a floor plan to build or do you supply your own?
  • How do you ensure quality?
  • Do you offer warranties? If yes, what type?

It is also vital to accept bids from different builders as this helps you compare prices and ensure you are within budget.

Any Safety Concerns to Consider?

Safety requirements may vary from state to state. However, there are some general building regulations you will want to follow when building your deck.

For instance, you may be required to add handrails if the deck is 1m above the grade-level. For decks 4m from the ground, you are required to use non-climbable materials located 150mm and 170mm off the floor.

There you have it. These five tips will ensure you build a great deck.

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