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5 of the Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Deck

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Everyone deserves an awesome deck for friends and family to relax and enjoy some summer grilling. So, it’s no surprise when someone decides to break out the table saw for building a new deck on a house that is sorely lacking in grill space. Some people want to expand an existing deck to accommodate bigger gatherings and better barbecues.

While most of these projects turn out great in the end, there are also quite a few mistakes a person can make when DIY building a new deck. And today, we’re here to help you avoid them all for an awesome deck-building project you can show off for years.

1. Starting Without a Detailed Plan

For DIY projects, it can be tempting to throw up the framing and then work on the details for months. That can make it seem like building a new deck without a plan is a reasonable idea. But in reality, every building project needs a plan, especially if you need to safely support a lot of weight or want your deck to last more than five years in the weather.

A building plan is more than an idea and a sketch of where you want beams and timbers to go. It’s an architectural design that ensures that your deck will:

  • Be firmly grounded.
  • Not collapse.
  • Attach to your house safely.
  • Resist decay over time.

2. Skipping the Building Permits

Most states and neighborhoods require you to get building permits. You have to get your building plans approved before you can break ground or create anything that will support a person’s weight, like a deck. Before building a new deck onto your house, make sure you have all your paperwork together, including any necessary building permits.

Also, if you live in an HOA neighborhood, double-check your regulations and bylaws to ensure there are no tiny violations in your plan that might come back to bite you later. Not having all the right permits and plans can pull your project to a screeching unfinished halt should anyone blow the whistle. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you really are building something safe for 10 people and a steak-laden grill.

3. Unstable or Rot-Prone Footing

By far the most common mistake when building a new deck is using rot-prone footing. You know you need a hole, concrete, and a timber post. But what you may not realize is that if the timber post sets directly into the concrete or earth, it is far more likely to rot.

The trick is to use a steel stirrup that holds the post and anchors into the concrete. While keeping the post out of the porous concrete and sheathed from damp earth that might rot your deck support posts over time. An expert can help you determine the ideal post design for your land and deck plan so that you don’t have to worry about rotted supports years down the road.

4. Blocking Windows and Doors

Another interesting deck-building challenge is how you deal with existing doors and windows. Building a new deck means that the original set of home apertures didn’t consider the location of the deck and railings. Think carefully about where your doors and windows are and how not to block them. In many cases, it may be worth your while to extend or shorten a deck slightly to better accommodate the use of your existing doors and windows.

Try to visualize how your deck would look considering different uses for your doors and windows. If you want your back and front door to enter the deck, or to leave your back door steps in place. That’s where having a plan can be a huge help.

5. Getting Your Hardware Mixed Up

Finally, a word to the DIY carpenter: The hardware you use to secure a deck is not all interchangeable. Depending on the kind of brace you are using, you will need a different variety of screws. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to get your collection of screws and fittings jumbled in the construction supplies.

Save time by making sure to sort and separate your sets of hardware and screws. This way, you will always have the right screw for the job and your family deck will be optimally supported at every joint.

Building a new deck that will last for years isn’t difficult as long as you avoid the common pitfalls. By taking a little time to plan and prepare in the beginning, you’ll save yourself lots of headaches. But most important of all, you’ll end up with the safest deck possible for your friends and family to enjoy.

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