The most useful home improvement
A timber deck is one of the most useful home improvements you can make. With a deck you expand your living space and enhance your living style, gaining a new space for entertaining and socializing. But for a deck to do all these things, you need to start out with a good plan.
A well planned deck will harmonize with your home. It will provide a graceful transition from home to pool or garden. It can offer more exposure or privacy, and either take advantage of an amazing Southern African sunset or protect you from a chilly south easterly wind.
The best advice I could give is to watch shows like ‘Tree house masters’ and ‘Decked out’ which you’ll find on DSTV.. These shows are great for getting those creative juices flowing. Just remember to be flexible with your contractor and to keep in mind that our building practices and materials will differ.
Put some ideas down on paper so you and your contractor can address your wants and needs.
Here are some things you might want to consider.
Consider the suns positioning in both winter and summer. Look for both shade and full sunlight. Would you prefer a hammock or a swing chair or maybe a more formal table and chairs?
A pergola with retractable awning can provide some shelter from the hot summer sun and quite as easily be retracted to let in the warm sun on a cold winters day.
This will depend on your surroundings. A handrail constructed of tempered glass or cables will give a feeling of freedom and openness. A narrow deck with solid railings and lattice work can give the feeling of security and privacy.
Decks are often constructed high above the ground, which might mean you will feel a little exposed. If this is the case consider a well-placed lattice and some climbing plants to provide a pleasing screen.
It’s possible to waterproof a first floor deck above a patio. This will provide you with a dry spot in the rain. You can incorporate a pull down awning to keep out all weather for a cosy area to braai a chop or sit round the fire. Remember to insulate the fire from all decking.
Plan appropriate lighting if you wish to use your deck after dark. Low voltage is the safest DIY option. Hide wiring as much as possible. If you plan well in advance it’s possible to hide all the cables.
A deck makes an ideal surface next to a pool or spa. Your timber selection is important with this regard. Concrete and tiling are often slippery, while decking is slightly absorbent and more forgiving under foot. It’s great for lounging round the pool. Timber decking is almost always the choice of architects and engineers when constructing a pool on a slope. Rather than filling and retaining hundreds of cubes of soil, a deck can be a lot more cost effective in this regard.
In built up areas it is often nice to bring a little of the outdoors in by means of pot plants. Try to find pots and plants that will go well with your deck and décor, or plan to build some planters of the same material as used to build your deck. What you plant will depend again on sun and wind factors, ask your local nursery for some help.
Don’t be hasty in deciding to cut down trees. Consider building round it instead, to take advantage of the shade and transition from home to garden. Keep in mind what kind of tree it is and its leaf fall, be careful of staining berries.
Every project has its challengers. Here are a couple to consider before you challengers turn to disasters.
If possible consider storage space under your deck, for your garden tools or even a rainwater tank. It’s wasted space that could be put to good use. Pool pumps and equipment are often hidden under decking. Keep in mind solid wood decking can weigh up to a ton per cubic meter. The hatches that are made must be manageable.
Drainage will be a problem in the future if it is a problem now, or if you have removed ground to build your deck and your deck now lies at the lowest point to the ground. For minor problems direct as much water away from the site. If you have major drainage problems, such as standing water consider a French drain, however you decide to solve your drainage problem be sure to do so before the deck is constructed.
A sloping site will make the deck building process more difficult but also present an opportunity for an interesting multilevel deck with inter leading stairways, different themes and styles on each level.
Trees on a deck site present an opportunity to create character, building around the tree can create a stunning focal point. Keeping in mind the type of tree, age, and how it will grow. Make sure to leave ample room.
Remember to locate any sewer or waste water drains and cleaning hatches before building your deck. Allow access to these in your deck plans.
Hiring a Professional
If you decide to hire a professional to build you deck, make sure that you select them wisely. Check with friends and neighbours who have had decks built before. They will be more than happy to give their opinions. If possible inspect the decking companies work.
Ask for references and talk to previous customers. Did they get what they were promised? Was the project completed on time? And did they respond quickly to any complaints?
The Quoting Process
Where possible get more than just one quote. Don’t just go with the cheapest option. Cheap is all too often nasty. Compare the quotes ‘like for like’ to be able to see the reason for the difference in price. One company might be providing a service that another is not or is using different materials to the other.
Make sure the decking expert understands what you are looking for, and the reason behind choosing a deck. Ask his professional opinion. He can suggest something you may never have considered which could make your deck so much more practical and enjoyable. Make sure your contract has exact specifications of the project, with plans so you know what to expect. All materials should be listed, including timber grades and hardware fixings.