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When to Hire a Deck Professional

Aug 28, 2007
In recent years many homeowners have made the decision to enter the do-it-yourself world especially in the area of deck building. They have been encouraged by the large home improvement retail outlets that provide demonstration clinics, a wide variety of deck materials and products, tool and equipment rentals and even free deck design consultations. However, in some instances homeowners need to know when to seek out professional advice and assistance from a deck professional.

There are certain conditions that make it imperative that the deck's design and/or construction be turned over to a deck professional.

So, when do you sound the alarm and call in professional help? Generally the pros are needed when:

1. The deck is to be built upon unstable soil and requires special foundations or pilings for support.

2. The deck needs a leakproof surface perhaps to keep a room below the deck dry.

3. The deck is an extreme high level type or is to be built on a steep hillside in which case special design techniques are required.

4. The deck is to be cantilevered calling for very specialized design and construction methods.

5. The deck includes major home remodeling projects requiring professional expertise in areas such as electrical, plumbing, etc.

So now that you have decided to wisely enlist the help of one or more pros, which do you hire? There are a number of different types:

1. Architects and landscape architects - These are university educated experts who are trained to create functional, structurally sound and aesthetically appealing designs. They are knowledgeable in the areas of construction, bid negotiations and can supervise the actual deck construction.

2. Landscape and building designers - These individuals are well educated and trained and are capable of offering design services along with construction.

3. Drafspersons - They may be members of a skilled trade or architects' apprentices. They are well equipped to make the working drawings needed to obtain building permits and from which contractors can work to construct your deck.

4. Structural and soils engineers - Soils engineers evaluate soil conditions on a proposed deck site and establish design specifications for foundations. Structural engineers utilize these recommendations and design foundations, piers and footings to suit the building site. They also deal with seismic, wind and load stresses pertaining to the structure.

5. General and landscape contractors - These individuals specialize in construction but may also have limited design skills. They usually charge less than landscape architects.

So, which professionals do you hire?

Before hiring a design professional, interview several and discuss with them your project. The right designer will be the one who is not only knowledgeable and competent, but will also be compatible with you and your family.

As far a budgetary issues are concerned, obtain estimates from several sources. Do not automatically choose the lowest bid. Instead examine the individual's reputation which means calling those references you wisely asked for. The person you hire should definitely be well established, competent, flexible, financially stable and insured for worker's compensation, property damage and public liability.

Finally, you have the choice of hiring the professionals on a preliminary consultation basis, on a preliminary design stage basis or on a complete planning-through-construction completion basis. That choice will likely be affected by your pocketbook.

The important thing is to know when to obtain advice and assistance from a deck professional so that the deck of your dreams gets designed properly and is soundly constructed and is still standing years from now providing you and your family with a welcoming outdoor environment.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Professionals and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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