Do you have what it takes to tackle a DIY deck project?
I recently met with a customer who called us to look at a deck project that her husband started months earlier. He had torn out much of the old deck, but that was as far as he got. We were looking at a huge pile of old decking and a bare structure attached to the back door of their house. She asked if we could resurface the deck over the remaining structure, and she was hopeful that the work her husband had performed would lessen the cost. Unfortunately, some important structural components had been torn out as well so any potential savings would be offset by the rework to the structure. It was a frustrating situation, and one that’s not uncommon.
I’m a big fan of DIY. It can save you a lot of money and there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction you get from taking on a big project, working through challenges, and then enjoying the fruits of your labor. But before you jump into a big home improvement project like deck installation, it’s important to have a complete picture of what you’re getting into. Here are some things I have learned in my many years of deck building that might help you decide if you’re up to the task.
Before the deck installation process can even begin, you’ll need to design and plan your deck. Where do you want it? How large will it be? How tall? Will it require railings and stairs? Think about how you expect to use the space and plan accordingly. There are a lot of online resources available to help you find basic deck plans. Just keep in mind that the more time you put into the planning phase, the smoother the construction process will be.
The best advice I can give here is to be certain that you are able and that you have time to take on a deck project. We get calls all the time by people who started a deck project but want us to finish it. This is never the ideal scenario for either party. The contractor could legally be held responsible for work his company didn’t perform, and honestly, once the owners starts talking to a contractor, they usually end up learning about additional deck options they might not have considered, but no longer have the option to incorporate.
Building your own deck will cost roughly half as much as if you hire a contractor. As with any DIY project, you’re only paying for materials, not labor. But the cost of materials varies widely based on the deck materials you choose and the shape and size of your deck. I go into this in much more detail here in "How Much Does it Cost to Build a Deck", but for the purposes of this article, be sure to include any extras that you’d like to incorporate into your deck plan when working out your budget:
Once you have a plan and your permits are in place, you’re ready to break ground. Building your own deck is not rocket science, but it’s usually more involved and takes more time people anticipate.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you have the time and a solid understanding of basic construction principles, you can build a pretty incredible deck all on your own. Just keep in mind that while a DIY deck project might be a great option for some, it’s not the solution for everyone. A professional deck builder will build a deck better and faster. They understand the nuances of the construction process and they’re able to recognize and handle potential issues before they become problems.
That said, not all deck contractors are the same. If you do decide to go the contractor route, check out my article about "How to Hire the Right Local Deck Builder".
And of course, if you live in Northeast Ohio and don't have the heart to tackle of DIY deck project yourself, Woodland Deck would love to work with you to help you build the deck of your dreams. Contact us or get a free estimate today!
I founded Woodland Deck in 2000 to create decks and outdoor spaces to be enjoyed for generations. Here in beautiful Northeast Ohio, we’re lucky to experience four dramatically different seasons throughout the year, and I want you to be able to enjoy each one of them from the comfort of your own backyard. As a deck-building company, we are always looking for ways to better our products, services, and ourselves. We are passionate about life outside and believe that enjoying God’s creation is a rich gift to us.
January 27th, 2019