By far the most appealing is the timber deck. Timber brings a warmth and aesthetic appeal that tiles and pavers just can’t match. When we think of a deck we often think of a platform at ground level or an elevated structure at the rear of the house. Keep in mind that a deck or verandah at the front entrance of the house will enhance the property’s street appeal and provide the welcoming feel that Buyers love and will be prepared to pay that little bit extra
As with all aspects of a great renovation, planning is king. Decide what the deck will be used for – what is its function? Think about the size and shape in relation to the rest of the house particularly with regard to how it will be accessed from the inside. Take a creative look at the design and location of your deck and see if it could offer a bonus such as car parking underneath or a play area for kids etc
The obvious purpose is to provide a space for relaxation or entertaining. Perhaps part of it could create a garden? Will it need a roof or will shade sails be a better option? Thinking about all its uses will help you decide on the shape and size, but importantly it will also make you think about the materials and type of construction.
Caution. Think twice before deciding to Do It Yourself. There have been many cases where decks have failed and people have been killed and injured. These incidents have involved both old and new decks. Some had been DIY built and others constructed by a professional. The fact remains that you are liable for the safety of anyone that visits your home. For peace of mind use a Builder or Carpenter, even some Cabinet Makers are skilled and proficient in building decks.
Provide the Tradesperson with a detailed plan for what you want to achieve. If you don’t convey exactly what it is you want this will lead to misunderstandings that ultimately, will cost you dearly both in time and money. You must do appropriate research into the project you are asking the Tradie to complete. You must also think about a budget. Many of the problems renovators find themselves in with Tradespeople can be traced back to a lack of communication or not enough detail about what was the intention or objective.
Tradesperson must do check list
• Check qualifications and testimonials
• Ask what they do and what they don’t do
• Ask what you can do to assist
• What work is to be subcontracted
• Time lines for work completion and payments
• Accreditation to Industry Bodies
Decks are closely scrutinised by pre-purchase building inspection companies. Get it wrong and it could cost you dearly come sale time. Whilst the fundamentals remain the same as far as timber sizes, fixings, height of balustrade etc, there are many ways to go about building your deck. It is the design, size and shape that influences the way it must constructed.
Tips for a great deck.
- A deck is traditionally made from timber. Use high quality hardwood, our Australian climate demands it. It will cost a little more but the result will be far superior to that of treaded pine. There are PVC decking materials and recycled plastics materials available. Both these claim to be easier to maintain, stain, fade and fire resistant. If you are more concerned with maintenance than aesthetics these material are a good alternative.
- Investigate the many and varied materials and styles of balustrade available. Decks built low to the ground may not need balustrade. Decks must be built in exact accordance with local government building codes. Consult with your Tradie and make sure you get the height required exactly right.
- Don’t overlook the importance of access from the inside of the house to the deck. Position it close to living areas to maximize a cohesive flow from inside to outside. If possible design the deck so there is no step between the deck and the inside floor level. The larger the size of the opening to the deck the more spacious the deck, and the room adjoining it will appear. Wide sliding or bi-fold doors look and function the best. Again, timber and glass is classy.
- Decks can have features built into them, if the deck is high off the ground balustrade can double for bench seating. Another idea is to add sections for plants or planter boxes to create a leafy screen around your deck.
- Consider a roof. It will cost more but buyers will really appreciate the all year round usability a roof provides. In the Australian climate it is worth considering insulation in the roof. Roofing also will save money in the long run by protecting the timber and your furniture from the elements.
- Lighting is often forgotten in the planning stage and will become an issue later, particularly if you are installing stairs and gates.
- Look down when planning a deck. Investigate what is below where the structural supports are to be positioned. It’s important to know where drainage and sewage pipes are, before you decide on the final design.