6 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make With Your Deck Building Project

It’s that time of the year when the sun begins to shine a little more often, the weather warms up and homeowners who want to build a deck onto their property really start getting serious about the project.  Whether you decide to hire a local deck builder (like Brad’s Construction) or you decide to build the deck on your own, there are a few mistakes you definitely don’t want happening with your deck.

#1.  Not Getting Proper Permits in Place

There are very few instances where the construction of a new deck won’t require building permits and inspections.  If you are re-decking an existing deck structure with a new decking material, upgrading from wood to composite materials for example then usually a permit is not required.  If you are altering an existing load-bearing structure, adding more square footage, adding a hot-tub or another level for example then you most definitely need a building permit.

Avoid working with a contractor who tells you that a building permit is unnecessary for any new build deck project.  The last thing you want to happen is a stop work order on your project and fines from the city or county by-law officer.

#2.  Not Digging/Pouring Proper Footings

Proper Deck Footings

If you don’t know, you don’t know and many homeowners (and less informed contractors) will take shortcuts with the footings and in many cases they will not meet proper building codes.  In most areas your decks foundation must extend at least 12″ inches into the ground (to undisturbed soil).  In Wisconsin, it can get fairly cold in the winter and in some cases and some properties the footings should extend even deeper into the ground so your deck doesn’t suffer from frost heave.

Homes that are on lakefront properties or homes that are on sloped properties also require special considerations for deck footings that can significantly raise the cost of construction.  The type of soil will need to be determined, the size/shape and weight of the deck (and it’s occupants) will need to be factored in as well for proper footing depth/size.

If building your dream deck is starting to look a little more than a DIY (do-it-yourself) project, it often is for homeowners with little to no building experience!  If you’re building a deck large enough to require complex footings or special considerations you are well beyond DIY territory and you should be speaking with professionals.

#3.  Forgetting To Factor In Any Utilities Clearances

This can be a problem for both rebuilding old decks and new construction.  Utility meters on the side of a home are often placed in the same location that a homeowner wants their deck.  There must be special considerations made to accommodate the clearances required around the utility meter.  Other items you’ll need to consider are any underground utilities that you could potentially strike while digging footings and don’t forget about any dryer vents, egress windows, AC units and anything else that might affect your deck plans.

Moving utilities like hydro meters can be very expensive so if it can be avoided by planning ahead or working around it then you’ll be better off.

#4.  Not Adding Proper Guardrails and Handrails

Good quality guardrails and handrails are expensive and because of this homeowners and some contractors will often try and cut corners.  An improperly attached guardrail on a deck can be very dangerous, especially if the deck is higher than 3-4′ off the ground.  It’s important that guardrail posts be fastened directly to the deck framing using high quality fasteners that will not rust.
The height of the guardrail on your deck is usually established by local building codes and will be dependant on the deck size/height/how many stairs etc…

#5.  Not Knowing The Proper Span For Your Deck and Materials

The “span” of your deck is the distance between your support joists.  There are several variables that go into calculating a proper deck span such as the types of footings, how deep they are, the size of the deck, the type of wood/composite material it’s made out of, and lastly if you are installing the deck boards diagonally or in a decorative style you may even need additional joists.
Composite decking manufacturers will list their span limits along with their product information and there are excellent charts available online for calculating deck spans using natural wood materials.

#6.  Not Using High Quality Deck Fasteners

Decking hardware is an easy place for homeowners and contractors to save a little money by going with cheaper fastening products, especially in those areas you can’t see.  Your deck is going to be exposed to several months of winter weather every single year, countless rain storms and the added stress of holding your deck together.  High quality stainless steel fasteners are more expensive, that’s for sure, but they will outlast your deck and will look great and do their job for many years.

Brad’s Construction Builds Beautiful Decks Throughout Dodge County, Wisconsin

brads construction logoBrad’s Construction is a general construction contractor based out of Dodge County, Wisconsin.  We serve Mayville, Beaver Dam, Fond Du Lac, Hartford, Waupun, West Bend and more.  We have extensive experience with deck building projects of all shapes and sizes.  From complex multi-level decks to wrap-around decks, stairs, and more..

If you’d like to to schedule one of the experts from Brad’s Construction to come and view your new deck construction project for an estimate please give us a call or fill out our online contact form and someone will be getting right back to you.