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The AmeriFirst Home Buyer Learning Center

Adding a Wood Deck to Expand Outdoor Entertainment Space

Posted by Guest on Mon, Jun 12, 2017

Do you live in a  small or medium sized home and find that you need to increase your entertainment and living space? One of the best capital investments you can make is to renovate by expanding on an outdoor deck. Today, building materials and kits makes it possible for the average homeowner to DIY (do-it-yourself) and save thousands, while choosing a custom layout that works for their lifestyle and family needs.

It’s important to know that building a deck isn’t a project that can be completed over the weekend. You will also have to invest in quality materials to ensure that the deck remains safe and visually appealing, years after installation.  Read on for a step-by-step plan for designing, planning and installing a deck, and to determine the resale value it can add to your home! 

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Start With A Permit and Local Building Code Ordinances

Before starting any capital project on your property, it is important to consult with your local municipal governance (city or town) regarding the required ordinances and permits.   While the laws vary in different communities, generally speaking, any deck that is constructed to be more than 30-inches or higher above the grade (property land level) requires a permit.

When you apply for a building permit with your local town or city, there are a variety or ordinances that your build is subjected to, including inspection after installation, which homeowners need to be aware of.  For instance, if your deck will build over water, or a marsh area that is deemed to be environmentally sensitive, a permit may not be issued.  If your deck may come in contact with public water, such as a river, stream or lake, there are unique codes that must be followed, including the type of stain, sealants and building materials you can use, to prevent water contamination.

If you are planning to extend your deck to the edge of your property line, it is important to consult with the municipality regarding your home and land survey.  Newer homes that are not fenced, will have a current record of parcel divisions, or the border of the property.  However, older and resale homes may not have had a survey in many years, and may require a new survey to be conducted, to establish the property lines, before building.

Don’t forget that each municipality also outlines safety rules for outdoor structures, including decks.  While homeowners may prefer an unobstructed view, building codes require railings that help prevent falls, and stairs that are wide enough to meet the minimum safety guidelines. 

Time Saving Build Options

After the building permit has been acquired, the homeowner will need to decide whether they want a custom design, or one that can be provided as a kit, or deck package.  Many businesses provide complete kits that are easy and faster to install, requiring little to now lumber cutting.  Each package comes with premeasured lumber, fasteners and braces, rails and stairs.  The numbered pieces and instructions are easy to follow, and one of the most economical ways to build a professional deck as a do-it-yourself homeowner.

If the homeowner is looking for a more original design, however, major home improvement stores also provide custom design services.  Using specialized software, a consultant can help you design a computer engineered plan for your deck, and the delivery of the components are also frequently labeled and numbered, to help make installation fast and easy.

New composite materials that are plastic (and look exactly like stained lumber) are providing more options to homeowners.  With regular staining and maintenance, a traditional wood deck can last 10-15 years.  However, the new composite and recycled plastic materials (HDPE) available have useable lifespans of more than twenty-five years, with many products offering a lifetime warranty.  While the HDPE composite materials are more expensive, they have tremendous long-term value, as they are resistant to weather, water and insects (such as termites). 

Adding Personalized Storage and Unique Artistic Touches

If you are the creative type, you may want to upgrade your deck from the box standard design to something that offers more artistic appeal.  There are many opportunities to enhance your desk space, while also providing for convenience and guest comforts.

Seating and storage are two concerns that can be addressed within the deck design.  Building in bench seating is a convenient way to expand the entertaining space, making your deck more child and even pet friendly.  Create hinged seats that lift up to provide valuable outdoor storage, for articles like blankets, sports equipment, garden supplies and backyard essentials like bug spray, sunscreen and patio pillows.

Since few homeowners have the luxury of owning a universal milling machine, customized millwork on lumber can be ordered online, or from a local hardware or home store.   Custom millwork can create unique pillars or rail designs for your deck, or signs and engraved labels to help keep outdoor storage organized.  Avoid adding permanent details like family name or other identifiers, that may deter future buyers, in the event the home is placed on the market.

How Much Does a New Deck Improve Home Value?

The average deck project can cost between $1,200 to more than $10,000 to complete, depending on size and other variables.  Doing the work yourself can more than half the cost of any deck project; if you have handymen or other family members, recruit them to help you design and build and keep costs to a minimum.

Leading home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot have made it easy for consumers to rent and borrow power tools and other equipment used to install a deck; if you don’t have the right tools, they are easy to find.

For homeowners, much of the investment cost of installing a new deck is recouped in property value when the house is sold.  In fact, design experts at HGTV have estimated that homeowners may receive 65% to 90% of the cost of installation back, after selling the home.  

More than ever Americans are enjoying the ‘staycation’ or a vacation at home, rather than traveling, which means an increase in demand for backyards that are recreationally friendly, and ideal for entertaining.  When it comes to outdoor fun, a deck is truly central to fun, family meals and relaxation, making it an investment worth undertaking for your own enjoyment, as well as increased resale value. 

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Author Bio:

Rachel Oliver is a freelancer who has a way with words. She likes to write about anything and everything under the sun, but themes like home improvement, machine & technology, electronics & gadgets, interests her more. You can get in touch with her on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Topics: first time home buyer, DIY home improvements

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