A properly planned deck or patio can add functionality as well as beauty to a home’s design. Equally important, it can expand the living area with the addition of charming and usable outdoor living spaces.
The first step to creating a deck is finding the perfect design to compliment the exterior of the home and meet the desired outdoor lifestyle of the homeowners. Large home supply stores have design software accessible on their websites allowing homeowners to create and print a customized 3-D deck design. Designs and materials can be changed with a click, and do-overs are definitely allowed.
Spending time envisioning the deck before putting pen to paper or mouse to hand will help. Ideas are everywhere — readily available in magazines and on-line. Houzz is a great website where you can find ideas, beautiful photos, products, and professionals in many home-related industries. You can open a free account, start saving ideas and plans to your “idea books” and do some great planning and dreaming. As you are envisioning your perfect outdoor room:
Some questions to consider include:
- what will the deck be used for
- how often will it be used
- who will use it
- and what time of the day or night will it be used
Considerations in Deck and Patio Design
With these ideas in mind, a homeowner can create a variety of areas on and around the deck or patio for different uses, including food prep, eating, relaxing and entertaining. If a pool or hot tub is also part of the design, other issues will need to be addressed such as electrical supply, privacy and adequate safety measures.
The location of the deck will be determined by the available yard space, accessibility to and from the home, and showcasing the best views. Enclosing part of the deck with a roof can make the use of the deck more flexible and can act as a transition from the home to the outside. You also may appreciate the weather resistance of a partially covered deck, adding areas to bring fabrics and other items that don’t survive the elements easily.
Building Permits Are A Must
Location of he deck may also be dictated by local building and zoning ordinances. These ordinances will have guidance regarding the size and placement of the deck, height of privacy screens and the distance needed from property lines.
Home Owners Associations may have restrictions or guidelines on anything that is considered an outdoor room. A call to the utility company to check on the location of buried pipes and utility lines can prevent any loss of service, as well as save time, expense and trouble later.
Some of the requirements listed in building codes for an above-ground deck include the distance between support posts – usually no more than 6 feet apart, and distance between railing spaces – usually no larger than 4 inches apart.
The height, design and spacing of the railings is important, because they are the most repeated and most prominent visual element on the deck. Railings may be adhered to posts that are placed in the ground or attached to the decking itself. Material choices are many and include wood, metal, heavy cording or rope, stone or other building material, as long as code requirements are met.
Design Without Regrets
One of the complaints most often heard after a deck is built is that “we should have made it bigger.” To make sure to get it right, stake the layout into the yard and tie string between the stakes at the height of the railing. Grouping lawn furniture in various areas can simulate the ways the deck might be used. This added planning step can help you visualize the results.
On the other hand, a deck that dwarfs a home will awkward. To get the most out of the available space, multiple levels can add extra space without over-taking the home.
Making a deck blend in with a home’s decor can be done by incorporating and repeating design elements from the home. Paint in a similar or complementary shade will also help. Turning a deck into an extension of the house is a great way to create an outdoor room with a comfortable vibe.
Asian Landscape design by San Luis Obispo Landscape Architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture
Built-in benches, tables and planters add a feeling of stability and permanence to the deck and create the tie between deck and the landscape. Flowers, potted ornamental trees and other deck accessories can create a seamless transition between the deck itself and the natural surroundings. Homeowners with small lots are even finding space to grow herb and vegetable gardens.
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Thanks to David Goldberg for an informative guest post!
David Goldberg – Home Inspector
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322
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