Home Owner Series: Tips for Deck Construction

Homeowners have many choices when constructing decks on their property. Decks are a great addition to any home, and can provide extra space for outdoor entertaining or storage. There are many deck designs available from simple to complex that can be created using wood, stone, or composite materials. Planning ahead on the type of deck you want is important as well as properly maintaining the surface. Here are some suggestions for homeowners wanting to install new decks:

The width of your deck should ideally be 1/3 wider than the distance from your house to your lot line in both directions (side setback). This allows room for proper drainage of rainwater away from your foundation and ensures proper airflow between structures and walls to prevent mold and mildew.

Your deck should also be at least 2 feet from your property line to prevent people from falling over your property line and onto the neighbor’s yard. You may need a variance for this depending on how far you live from the property lines in your area. If the variance is not granted, you would have to move the deck further back than what is suggested here or put up a railing around your entire deck that will enclose it so nobody can fall off the edge of it, which could get expensive in materials but still keep it looking nice when done.

The distance between posts on decks shouldn’t exceed 12 feet due to stability issues caused by additional weight added to each post and possible sag issues with longer distances. You can put in more posts, but their weight will add up and the spacing needs to be close enough to provide support for them.

The size of your deck should be about 20% of your home’s exterior surface area. This is a good rule to follow since it leaves room for you to put seating areas and other accessories on the surface without making it feel overcrowded by just having one large space only. The smaller the deck, the less stuff you need to buy or build for it, which keeps costs from getting out of hand when building or buying any equipment that you may need.

The height difference between decks in relation to each other shouldn’t exceed 6 feet at most due to regulations from local codes with regard to walking distances for people with disabilities. This includes stairs and ramps leading up to them, handrails, etc. Other areas of concern are the spaces between staircases on decks where there is a vertical change in elevation that exceeds 6 feet from one level to another. The next thing you will need is an Elevator/Ramp Accessible (ADRA) permit which is similar to what you would get for constructing a new house with elevators inside or outside it. If you don’t follow ADA codes regarding existing structures then you could be subject to fines by local authorities if someone files a complaint against your property if they have concerns about accessibility issues while walking around outdoors.