9 considerations before you build your dream deck | homify
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9 considerations before you build your dream deck

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Ocean Vista Guest House by John Smillie Architects Modern
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Winter might be approaching, but we are already looking forward to the warmer weather later in the year. That’s when we South Africans come out and do our al fresco thing with so much pride, whether it’s a pool party with friends or a wine-and-dine date with that special someone. 

And speaking of outdoor fun, today we thought we’d focus on the planning that needs to go into the designing and building of an outdoor deck or patio. From budgeting and material choices to DIYing and calling in the professionals, let’s see 9 very important things to consider before you start planning your spring party on that dream deck. 

1. Determine its function

Yes, we know the reason for that deck you’re dreaming about is to allow you to get out more, but what exactly are you planning to do on that deck? Entertain friends? Enjoy some privacy with family? Kick-start a little container / herb garden on your very own? 

Determine what the most important uses of that deck will be early on in your planning process, as that can help you determine the right size and location, for instance, of your new outdoor space. 

2. Find the perfect location

With limited legroom, you don’t have much of a say in terms of where your new deck will be built. But if you’re lucky enough to have multiple options (and a great big yard), then your deck’s location may be determined by:

• Microclimates

• Sun and shade

• Rain and snow

• Wind 

• The views (a striking view of a garden or pool is one of the best views anyone can enjoy while relaxing on their own private deck) 

• Privacy. 

3. Get your budget straight

Unless you have an unlimited budget (in which case lucky you!), some cost-related things you’ll need to factor in before proceeding with your deck-building project include:

• Its size

• Design details / intricacy 

• Extras such as built-in seating or railings

• Will it be a DIY project or are you hiring a professional for this job? 

• Cost of materials and labour. 

To further cut costs, consider a smaller deck made of concrete, brick or loose materials next to an existing patio.  

4. What are your DIY skills?

Building a deck (correctly) requires a certain amount of carpentry, engineering, and some basic DIY skills. For example, can you work a circular saw? Do you even know what that is? 

Also consider the design / placement of your deck. If it’s going to be positioned uniquely (such as over water or unstable soil for visual effect), it might be best to rely on an expert (who has the relevant skills and experience) for this job. 

5. Consider your materials

Ocean Vista Guest House by John Smillie Architects Modern
John Smillie Architects

Ocean Vista Guest House

John Smillie Architects

Aside from wood (which can include weather-resistant options like cedar or pressure-treated ones that contain wood and preservatives), other well-known decking materials include:

• Composite decking (made from recycled plastic and wood fibre)

• Alternatives such as plastic and aluminium. 

6. Style, size and shape

Size will be driven by your deck’s location and budget. For the shape, you may find inspiration from your home’s design. Is it super modern with sharp corners and angles, or does it offer a softer, more subtle look with curves and a seamless transition between the interiors and outdoors? 

Remember that a deck, in addition to being super practical, also needs to enhance the beauty of your home’s architecture and/or the landscape / garden design. 

7. What about building codes?

Small, low maintenance garden Minimalist style garden by Yorkshire Gardens Minimalist Wood-Plastic Composite
Yorkshire Gardens

Small, low maintenance garden

Yorkshire Gardens

Like any building project, your new deck will be subject to certain rules and regulations depending on your deck’s size, your location, how it impacts neighbours, etc. Be sure to do your research thoroughly before you start buying any building materials! 

homify hint: Don’t have time to check up on what’s legal and what’s not? Working with a professional, such as an Architect, means there’s one less responsibility on your shoulders! 

8. Light it up

Socialising past sunset is nothing new, and luckily there exists a tonne of options when it comes to outdoor lighting designs for decks, gardens, patios, swimming pools, etc. But this is not only about ambience – safety is vital for you and your guests. 

Some choice lights and locations you could consider include:

• Recessed lights on the stairs / steps

• Pathway lights

• Overhead lights

• Wall- or post-mounted fixtures

• Landscaping spotlights. 

9. Storage and seating

What could you possible want to store on your new outdoor deck? Well, how about garden tools and supplies, kids’ toys, outdoor patio cushions, exterior furniture and décor..? Do not overlook the importance of storage for your deck, especially built-in options like water-tight closets and lift-top benches. 

Looking to link up with a professional for your next project? See Our top tips for working with an interior designer

Are you satisfied with your outdoor socialising spots, or are you considering adding a new deck?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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