Part of the fun of a new deck is the planning! When you plan your deck, you can let your imagination run wild and add all kinds of fun features. As your planning process moves forward, you can whittle down your design to a more practical (and buildable) plan. Planning a new deck can be as simple as a few sketches, or as complete as a blueprint. You can have an architect or designer create plans for you, or you can do it yourself. Also, there are many new software programs available to make planning easier.
Before you start planning your deck, you may want to browse through some magazines for ideas. You can also search the Internet for photos of existing decks to give you some better ideas. There are also entire books written specifically for decks and deck building. They usually have hundreds of full-color photos to help you decide what features you want to add to your deck.
So the first place to start, is to measure the area you have available for your new deck. This is sometimes easier if you have a long tape measure; a 50 foot long tape measure is usually best for a project like this. Using wooden stakes, hammer them into the ground at the corners of your deck. This will help you visualize where your new deck will be. It’s a lot easier to move wooden stakes around, then to change the layout while building your deck.
As you stake out your new deck, take into consideration any changes in elevation. You may want to consider a multi-level deck, areas for steps, or special task areas on your deck. Task areas may include things like a wet bar, a place for a grill, or even a private sitting area. These special task areas are what will make your new deck unique.
Once you have your deck staked out in its final position, you will want to draw some final plans. You can take these plans to your local home center or building supply store, and they can create a materials list for you. You will also need a set of plans if you need a building permit for your deck. Most townships or municipalities require building permits for a new deck. They will want to have one or two sets of plans submitted with the building fee. The more professional your plans look, the easier it will be for you to get approval to build your new deck.
Once you have your final building permit and your plans all finished, it’s time to start building your deck. The next series of articles will cover building your deck from start to finish.