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The 50 Most Important Questions to Ask About a Deck Design

Oct 15, 2007
Deck design is a process. It is not just an end. It is similar to a recipe in which different ingredients can be experimented with until it tastes great. Repeating the cycles of observation and evaluation will force a homeowner into reexamining the reasons why something is done and either refining it or rejecting it.

There may be aspects of a deck project that will require professional assistance. In situations where a deck is 10 feet or more off the ground, where soil conditions for footings are less than ideal or where a rooftop location is the only site solution for a deck, then it might be wise to contact a licensed landscape architect, architect or civil engineer to have the deck plans checked.

During the actual construction process special conditions may necessitate the assistance of a skilled carpenter.

However, these experts can be hired on a day-to-day basis. The important thing to remember is that it is far cheaper and much easier to make changes on paper than in wood. The design process actually may take almost as much time as the actual construction time for building the deck.

That is what the design process is all about - thinking through the changes and recording them on paper. The objective of the design process is to discover requirements and limitations so that the eventual deck spaces will accomodate the expected uses.

Many questions need to be answered in the deck design process:

How do you use the proposed deck site now? How would you prefer to use it? What do you like most about it? What don't you like about it? Where children are involved, what specific uses will they be growing out of and into?

Where pets are involved, do they have any specific requirements that would infuence the desgn? Do you want to shut them out or shut them in?

What specific uses do you want to plan for? Dinner parties? Sunbathing? Quiet conversation? Enjoying the view? Reading? Children's play areas? Storage? How do other family members plan to use it? What ideas do they have regarding deck use?

What is the architectural style of your home? What house materials could be repeated in the deck design to link the two? What colors would achieve the same effect? What particular design style do you prefer - formal, informal, mediterranean, rustic, countryside, natural, Japanese?

What special features will be created to enhance the look of the deck - arbor, pergola, water feature?

How much money is available to spend on the deck project? How will any cost overruns be paid for? Will the construction process be completed all at once or will it be phased in over 2 or more years? What effect will the deck's presence have upon the value of the property?

How much time will it take to construct the deck or have it built? Is there time available if the project runs beyond this time limit? How much time will be involved in the maintenance of the deck? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly? How long do you expect the deck to last?

How available are the construction materials in your area? How easily can these materials be brought on site and stored until construction can begin?

Where are the underground utility lines in relation to the deck site? How soon can the utility company locate and mark them? Is there a charge for this service? What local building codes will apply to the project? Are there easements, setbacks or other zoning regulations that will influence possible design plans?

Who can be contacted to provide advice regarding any other special conditions that might affect your deck plans?

Does what you are planning affect any neighbors and their property? Are they planning any projects in the future that might affect the design that you are considering? Height? Fencing? Screens? Landscaping? Do you have a scaled plan of the site from the grant deed or from work done earlier on the property?

Do you have the tools, the skills and the patience to complete this project?

A homeowner may not be able to answer all of these questions and some of them might not even apply. There might be additional questions that may need addressing. It is important and helpful to identify what is not known about a proposed deck's requirements and needs so that this information can be discovered eventually.

The deck design process requires careful thought, extensive research, a bit of imagination and the determination to see the project through so that the deck space created will provide years of enjoyment to the homeowner, family members and guests for years to come.
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 Design 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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