November 17, 2018 Ed Stam

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Deck

A well-constructed deck can expand your living area and give you a place to BBQ, entertain guests or just relax and enjoy a good book. However, there are a number of mistakes to avoid when building a deck that can ruin your ability to enjoy your new space or create a serious safety concern. Here are a few pitfalls you will want to avoid:

Deck Building Codes

Some people think that construction on your own property is outside of municipal bylaws. Don’t make this potentially costly mistake! Deck building codes are typically managed by local permitting offices in your municipality, we recommend speaking to an expert before even planning the new construction.

Improper Deck Post Footers

One end of the deck is typically connected to the house via a ledger board. The other resting points are anchored to the ground itself. The posts resting on the ground must support the deck’s weight, not just empty but full of people as well. These posts must rest on top of solid footers that cannot move under any circumstances. Footers should be in undisturbed soil and extend below the frost line to avoid heaving. At a minimum, they should extend 12” below grade.

Blocking Escape Routes and Access to Services

When building a deck onto the side of a house, some home owners make the mistake of blocking water faucets, dryer vents and exterior outlets. Another key consideration is fire escape routes. If your deck hinders egress from a basement window it will likely not be approved by the local permitting office.

Horizontal Beams Installed Incorrectly

Another common mistake that can cause a collapse is when home owners attach the horizontal beam (or girder) to the side of the vertical support posts, instead of on top of them. This is considered a substandard building practice as bolts can have poor shear strength. The proper method is to rest the horizontal beam on top of the vertical posts, then secure with bolts, washers and nuts. This creates a much more solid structure that will prevent collapses.

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when building a deck is to not seek professional help. While some homeowners have the construction experience to build such a structure, many are not aware of the many problems that can be created by improper installation. If you are looking to build a deck, or add to an existing one, contact the landscape construction experts at Blossom Hill Landscape & Design.

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