How do I plan a deck?
Planning your deck before going to the store gives you a huge head start and can save you money, time, and mental stress. It will give you a chance to figure out what you really want on, in, and around your deck. Remember your deck is essentially an extension of your house and becomes a seasonal room for you and your family to use. That is why proper planning before the entire building process is essential. It will help the rest of the process go smoothly with as few interruptions as possible.
Most big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Home Hardware etc) will tell you that you should be estimating your total materials and cost. As well as factoring in things like time, labour, and weather to minimize stoppages and delays. These things, while important, are not really valuable for you to attempt to figure out. They are generally above your experience and not worth your time researching in the beginning.
This is the first thing you should consider when planning for your deck.
What does your budget look like?
Are you going to finance?
How long are you going to use this space?
Your first budget might be way out in left field to what you actually want in your deck. This is to be expected and is not something to worry about. All that is important is to have some sort of number in mind when you get to the design phase of the planning process. It will help inform your decisions on all types of things in the building process and help you have reasonable expectations when it comes time to pay the invoice.
Purpose and Uses
Now that you have got your budget roughly decided it's time to start the fun part. Dreaming of your perfect deck. Here are a few great questions to consider while you're off day dreaming of coconut drinks and BBQs in your favourite new space.
What do you want to use it for primarily? (Dining, Lounging, Working, Cooking, ETC.)
What time of day are you going to use it the most?
Are you going to entertain on your deck?
How many people do you want to have on your deck?
How big or small do you want your deck to be?
Answering these questions will get you moving in the right direction when it comes to designing the actual final product. This is also a good time to create a wish list of things you want to do with your space once it's finished. There might be important design features you wouldn’t normally think of that would help the functionality of the deck that are easily overlooked. By putting your mind on your dream deck it can help you get the deck of your dreams as close to actual reality as possible.
With the concept version of your deck now securely in your minds’ eye you have to bring it back down to reality by thinking about the environmental factors that will limit your dream deck. Here are some common limiting factors to think about in your own space.
Where is the hottest part of my yard?
What time of day is the hottest?
How much physical space do I have?
How much yard space am I willing to give up?
Where is the entrance to the yard? (Both on the house and in the yard)
Efficient Use of the Space
With all the leg work you have done up until now thinking about what your backyard space will become, we need to consider one more piece of reality before taking all of these ideas to someone who can help you create your masterpiece.
How much of your yard are you willing to dedicate to the deck?
Based on your uses, should you create zones for specific functions?
Where is the entrance to the deck from the house? Is it high up or ground level?
Do you want patio furniture?
Do you have any other accessories you would like on your deck?
It's not that you need to come up with any of the ideas for efficient use of space but having a few answers to some of these questions will make it much easier when it comes to the actual design process.
Close your eyes and imagine a world where your deck is built in the backyard. You're relaxing in the warm bubbling waters of your brand new hot tub. Wait, you don’t own one of those yet and you haven’t planned for it in your dream deck either. This might be okay but planning ahead would allow the structure of the deck, the hardest part to get at after it's built, to be ready to take on the new dream hot tub. Or maybe it's a natural gas BBQ or a Brick Pizza Oven. Whatever your dreams may be, it's easier to build your deck to those specifications than change it in the future.
By mentally walking through all of these questions and imaging in your mind's eye what your backyard space will look like you can now start putting pen to paper to get the design fully realized. This is something that you can do yourself or if you need help getting started give us a call or check out our 3D Deck Design Service. We can take you through all of the necessary steps and show you exactly what your finished backyard experience will look like. If you purchase your materials through TUDS we will also apply 50% of the 3D Design to your bill!