Budget, intended uses important when planning a deck

Mar. 15—MOSES LAKE — The process of building a deck — one that will last, anyway, and one that will be what the homeowner wants it to be — starts long before construction.

"It's just like building a home," said Omar Jones of Handyman Starz Unique, Moses Lake.

Homeowners should start by considering what they want to do in their outdoor space, and how much money they want to spend. That deck with the built-in fireplace, seating for 20 and glass-panel railings might be the dream, but the reality could be that's outside the budget. Maybe it's just too big.

"Decks kind of go by square footage," Jones said. "You do the math. You have to get that, first and foremost."

The website Trex.com said the planning process should include paying close attention to that budget.

"Determine your budget early in the process and commit to sticking to it. Once you're exposed to the array of products and options available to you, it can be easy to let yourself get carried away," Trex.com said.

Factor in permitting costs, labor and any extras like furnishings, it said. Homeowners also should build in some cushion for any unexpected changes.

Some homeowners may need seating for 20, while others just want a quiet place to hang out.

"To get the most out of your deck, aim for a design that reflects your interests and activities," according to the Decks.com website.

Some people want to take advantage of a great view. Others want a shady spot. Some homeowners envision a space where they can dine and entertain al fresco, while others want a quiet spot for a book and a cup of coffee.

Location matters too, Jones said. A deck in a sloping yard will require a different design than one on flat ground.

Are there trees? Will they get in the way? Does the location get a lot of afternoon sun? What's the relationship to the rest of the house?

"If the deck will serve as the front porch, include design features that compliment the facade," the Decks.com website said.

Part of the design and budgeting process is a talk with local building officials.

"Consult your county or city regarding building code requirements and to learn what permits are necessary for building a deck in your area," wrote Ryan Gorton, L.C. Williams and Associates, in a press release. "If your neighborhood has a homeowner association, make sure you understand any rules regarding deck size, color, product type or design. And don't forget to check with your local utilities to locate any underground cables, wires or pipes before construction begins."

Jones said the type of building material — and not just the decking itself — will have an effect on the price. He cited the example of different kinds of substructures; some require more material than others.

Gorton said people should think about fire-resistant materials if they live in an area that's susceptible to fires. Some locations require Wildland Urban Interface materials, he wrote, one of the things homeowners should confirm when working with their contractor, or if they're doing the job themselves.

About that DIY — Decks.com said people should be careful not to overestimate their skills.

"If you're not especially handy, resist using your deck project as a DIY training opportunity. At best, your amateur efforts will delay completion. More likely your fun project will become a source of frustration as you discover your building skills aren't up to the task. Worse yet is making a serious mistake that renders your deck unsafe," it said.

If the decision is in favor of a contractor, Decks.com recommends talking to family or friends for references.

"Ask how their projects started, evolved and finished. What would they do differently?" it said.

Decks.com said online reviews are not as trustworthy but can offer guidance to common problems.

"Look for contractors who are familiar with local building requirements and who will answer your questions," it said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.