Now that you have a concept of the style and size of the deck that you want, it is time to think of a design or plan that will help you realize your dream. The addition of a deck to any building or outdoor space will increase the value as well as the enjoyment of the place.

Decks should be built to last a long time. So it is important to take your time in conceiving and planning a deck even if you will use a specialist for the actual construction. Decks are very useful whether it is just for the family to enjoy the backyard or for a whole crowd to enjoy an outdoor summer party.

Estimating the number of people who may be on it at the same time can help with the decision of how strong the supports need to be. Additionally, if you have a pool or a spa on the deck, you have to add the weight of water to the total capacity that the deck can handle. It is important to plan the design correctly so that if fits your house, landscape as well as your family budget. Average sized decks are planned to support an active load of 45 lbs and an inactive load of 15 lbs per square foot.

The most important step in deck building is to design it in complete detail.
There are many things to consider and decide upon when it comes to planning decks:

Shape of the deck should be customized for your area whether it is at the back of the house, all around the house or part of a pool or lake. However, it is best to measure the dimensions of each side of the proposed deck from ground up to the top railing and a roof if any to get an idea or estimate of its complexity.

Find out about building codes and zoning compliances in your area. If you live in a community, get the approval of the “Home Owner’s Association” as well as the city or town construction approval agencies. Easements which provide access to Utilities such as power, gas and water, local ordinances that limit the size of the deck and other regulations need to be carefully considered.

Get the estimates and measurements checked by a professional deck builder. They may be able to point out the shortcomings of the concept such as consideration for soft terrain, height issues, privacy issues, etc.

Depending on the size, shape, height, weight, location, terrain or other caveats, you may need additional support structures, knee braces, bridging between joists, etc.

The choice of wood will depend on the strength and durability of the wood that you can afford as well as the colour and ease of working with it. It also may depend on resistance to termites, marine borers, etc if that is a problem in your locality. Other criteria may be the look of the finished wood, the grain, finish, etc. All lumber that is in “ground contact” may have to be within the Standards established in the local region. The plan should include complete details about the plank color, plank profile and planking direction.

It is best to draw a plan with the help of a professional unless you have a lot of experience in deck building. A professional will know exactly what you will need for plan such as:

  • Concrete pier or other supports
  • Footing
  • Beams
  • Flashing
  • Blocking
  • Joists
  • Rail posts
  • Baluster arrangements
  • Guard rail
  • Stairs
  • Additional items required.

Decks in areas where the weather is extreme (windy, icy cold, hurricane and tornado activity, etc will need a lot more strength to withstand additional stress.

You can also put the unused , dark and sometimes damp space under the deck to good use and make it a comfortable living area for your family including pets.

There are many online websites where you can design your deck in a few minutes while they take you through it step by step. You can see 3D images of your deck by using your computer mouse to move the image around. You can also see the underside of the deck and all the support structures it need.

Try the following links:

Now it is time to create the plan diagrams – material list, cut list, beam layout, stress analysis and prepare the complete approved plan diagram.

When all the necessary items are in the design, it is time to estimate the cost of the deck. If the estimate is way over your expectations, the specifications may be tweaked to reduce the size of the deck or to remove additional expenses such as furniture, spa, etc. The one critieria that should not be changed is the quality and robustness of the construction.

As you are aware, there are many intricate details that a deck builder needs to consider before construction can begin. In many areas it takes time to get the approval of governing agencies. However, once you get the go-ahead signal, your dream is certainly closer to fruition.