Planning an New Deck

Planning a New Deck

A contractor generally takes responsibility for knowing what local ordinances are and for getting the building permit. However, you should look into this yourself and perhaps even discuss it with your local building inspector. In many communities there are zoning laws that limit the size of a structure relative to the size of your lot or how close your deck will be to the property line. Look into how deep the footings should be in your part of the country and for the particular nature of the terrain. The more you know beforehand the better. The contractor should know that he is dealing with a savvy customer.

Materials and Construction Techniques
A contractor may have a limited set of ideas when it comes to materials. He may have built a dozen decks in more or less the same way with the same kind of decking or the same style of wooden railings. There are so many other ideas and options that he may not have researched. Just a couple of hours at your computer will expose you to a vast array of options. The big question is whether to go with natural wood or with composite decking. That is a question worth researching. Even if you have already decided on a composite deck, there are different types of composite decking with different advantages and disadvantages. A great web site for planning and researching is You should also spend time visiting the web sites of manufacturers of decking, rail systems and other components.

Working with a Contractor
There are articles on line with tips for finding a good contractor. I would avoid using a referral service or web site that lists contractors who paid to be listed. It is always comforting to have a recommendation from a friend, but even then there are things to look out for. Even if your friend was happy with a contractor, that contractor might not be the best choice for your particular project. Good contractors are booked months or even years in advance. One thing to be particularly watchful for is scheduling. Deck contractors have a reputation for lining up a lot of jobs in the spring, knowing, but not being completely honest with you, that they wont’t get to some of the projects for months. Sometimes a contractor will take a cash deposit to seal the deal, then have materials delivered to your lawn where they will sit for four or five months before he starts the work. In the meantime, he has the deal locked up. Ask a lot of hard questions about scheduling and get the answers in writing.