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The Basics of Designing a Backyard Deck

The luxury of outdoor living space is one of the biggest perks to owning or living in a house versus multi-unit housing like apartments and condos. Outdoor space is great for hosting get-togethers and parties, or even just retreating to a hammock with a book for a couple hours of solitary relaxation. Yard space also opens up the possibility of gardening, which many consider great therapy for the soul. Use these tips to help you in the process of designing a backyard deck.

Decks are a common fixtures in many backyards. Most attach to the house or wrap around a pool, providing a platform for people to gather for recreation and socialization. However, designing a deck that’s right for your particular space can be tricky for both first-timers and the seasoned landscape artist. Here are the basics of deck design so you can make your backyard an oasis of leisure and fun.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Regulations and impositions

Before you do anything else, it’s important to look into things like local building codes to ensure that you aren’t breaking any regulations and to think about how much you want to spend on your deck. Check into any possible restrictions or guidelines imposed by your homeowner association, whether you need a building permit to build a deck, and whether you have the skill to complete the deck yourself or if you’ll need to hire a contractor.

redwood deck
Via Bob Vila

Step 2: Planning your deck

When designing your backyard deck, there are key questions you should ask. What do you want your deck to achieve? Is your deck going around a pool or will it be built up to your home? What shape and size will your deck be? Will there be more than one level? Are there other outdoor living spaces to incorporate in your deck design such as a veranda, pergola, or patio? Do you have plans to expand your deck in the future? These are things that will influence the size, shape, and complexity of your backyard deck.

Step 3: Preparing for the build

After you’ve designed something that meets your needs and complies with all codes, shop for the materials and a contractor if you aren’t building your deck yourself. You’ll likely need to consult with a builder for an estimate of the materials you’ll need so you can make a supply list. Additionally, a friend or relative can usually recommend a contractor; however, if you don’t have any recommendations it’s a good idea to schedule consultations with a couple contractors for quotes. You need to know the cost of building a deck and how long it will take from start to finish.

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