Using a Contractor

Planning your new deck is an opportunity to extend your outdoor living space and add value to your property. Although using a contractor will increase the overall project cost, the benefits often outweigh the expense – even for experienced DIYers. Before you decide, here are some items to consider:

All the time in the world, or not a minute to spare

Do you have the free time to devote to deck building, or will you be spending every evening, weekend and vacation day completing the project? Maybe you already coach a sports team or volunteer with an organization. How will you fit that in this project? Keep in mind family time and other household responsibilities. Might your time be better spent somewhere other than building in your backyard?

The devil's in the details

Professional deck installers know the ins and outs of permitting and code compliance. Do you know if you need a building permit, and how to obtain one? Are there construction codes regarding the soil in your area, load-bearing requirements or rules around frost depth? What about underground utilities? Understanding the codes and special challenges in your area will save time and reduce potential problems. A pro can help.

Right up your alley, or not in your wheelhouse

Next, consider the complexity of your deck design. Elements such as multiple levels, stairs, seating areas and unusual creative angles can add significantly to the enjoyment and value of your space. They are also more complicated, and therefore, more labor-intensive. Do you have the skills to ensure these add-ons will be built correctly, or would hiring a professional be a smarter move? Not only would a professional builder have the knowledge and experience to ensure your deck is structurally sound, he or she would also be far less likely to make mistakes that might waste materials and slow down progress. In much the same way, improper installation of any decking material could jeopardize your product warranties– not something you need right after your dream deck is completed.

Taking it to the next level

And when it comes to dream decks, professional installers know to plan for the extras that can turn a simple space into an over-the-top outdoor oasis. Lighting, sound systems, customized railing, built-in appliances, and water or fire features can all make a big difference. The pros know how to incorporate these elements in in advance, rather than force them in after the deck is built. What's more, they can usually suggest special features you might never have thought possible, such as color inlays, curved decking, flared steps and so on. And speaking of special spaces, don't forget the special tools needed to make it all come together. The right equipment can add up to big money, and this isn't the time to "make do" with tools lying around your garage. Do you have what's needed, or will this be an added expense?

Your new deck can increase your property's functionality and even your home's resale value. While doing it yourself isn't impossible, it is a significant undertaking. Consider all your options. Take the time to speak with some professional deck installers to understand the added value they can bring to your project. That way, you're sure to make the best decision for your specific situation.