Should You Build Your Own Deck or Hire a Contractor?

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you struggle to host guests on a too-small patio or have a wonderful view of mountains, hills, or water but no outdoor seating to enjoy it, you may be considering building a deck. However, the thought of spending thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars to have a deck professionally constructed may cause you to take pause. If you normally spend your weekends puttering around the house on home-improvement projects, you may feel that a DIY deck construction is within your reach. Read on to learn more about the components of deck construction and the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to build a deck on your own or hire a professional contractor and crew. 

What skills and equipment will you need to build your deck yourself? 

If you're planning to build your deck from a pre-measured or pre-cut kit with the wood delivered directly to your home, you likely won't need too much additional equipment. You'll need things such as post-hole diggers, cement powder (if you're planning to firm your supports in concrete), a nail gun, an electric drill with screwdriver bits, a power sander, a measuring tape, and assorted nails, screws, bolts, and other fasteners. Those who are cutting their own wood will need an electric saw and some sharp blades as well. 

In order to construct your deck without help, you'll need to be in good physical shape—able to lift heavy beams or a 5-gallon bucket filled with concrete without collapsing. You'll also need to be precise and abide by the "measure twice, cut once" advice to avoid winding up with a deck that's just a little bit askew. Building a deck alone can be a tough prospect even for someone young and in good shape, so you may want to enlist a few friends and family members to lighten the burden.

Many jurisdictions will require you to apply for a building permit when making any interior or exterior improvements to your home. In order to obtain a building permit, you'll usually need to file a set of plans (including specifications of the size of your deck, the number of supports, and the type of material you're using) and receive approval before breaking ground. Some areas may also send out a county inspector midway through the process to ensure your deck is structurally sound.

What factors should you consider when deciding how to build your deck? 

Unless you're planning a complex deck with multiple levels or one constructed on hilly, sandy, or otherwise troublesome ground, it should be possible for you to construct your deck without any outside help. However, just because DIY construction is possible doesn't always mean it's a good idea. 

If your deck construction will require you to remove siding or reroute plumbing or electrical outlets on the side of your home, it's generally wise to have a contractor take care of this. Making a mistake when trying to reroute electrical lines could put you in danger, and a broken faucet or pipe in your home's foundation could lead to long-term basement moisture problems.You'll also need to tread carefully if you're planning to drill into your home's foundation to attach side supports for the deck. The risk of causing damage to your foundation may eclipse the cost of having a professional (with appropriate levels of liability insurance) perform this task on your behalf.

Finally, it cam make sense to hire a professional if you have a busy family or social life and not much time to devote to your home-improvement project. Outdoor construction is at the whim of weather patterns, and unless you plan to build your deck over a single weekend, you may find yourself dragging this project out as other demands on your time take precedence. Having a contractor such as CEI Electrical & Mechanical build your deck usually means the job can get done more quickly.

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19 September 2016

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