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  • Writer's pictureTeam Quartz Homes

The True Cost of Building a Deck: How Cutting Corners Can Cost You Big

Updated: Jun 2

Deck Build

As a homeowner, you may be tempted to take on a do-it-yourself (DIY) project, such as building a deck. After all, building a deck can be a great way to expand your outdoor living space and increase the value of your home. However, before you start hammering away, it's important to understand the true cost of building a deck and the risks associated with cutting corners. The allure of DIY deck building

Building a deck can be a fun and rewarding project, especially if you enjoy working with your hands. It's also a great way to save money on labor costs, which can be a significant portion of the overall cost of building a deck. However, it's important to remember that building a deck is not a simple project and requires a level of skill and expertise that not everyone possesses.

The true cost of building a deck: Materials and labor

​The cost of building a deck can vary widely depending on the materials you choose and the size and complexity of the project. On average, you can expect to spend between $15 and $35 per square foot for a new deck. This includes the cost of materials, such as lumber, screws, and nails, as well as the cost of labor, which can range from $20 to $50 per hour.

The importance of proper deck framing

​If you're planning on building a deck, get excited about doing it right! Don't skimp on the framing - this is the backbone that will keep your deck safe and secure. A well-constructed frame is essential to prevent any accidents or disasters. Not only will a solid frame ensure the longevity of your deck, but it also provides peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones can enjoy your outdoor space without any worries. So, don't settle for anything less than excellent when it comes to framing your deck. 

Common Issues With Decks

As residential remodeling professionals in the eastern Appalachian mounts of Georgia and North Carolina, Quartz Homes sees these issues all the time. Mostly all the decks we see are not properly attached to the structure (house) and are also built in a way that would not support basic use as the structure ages.

A deck that is suspended any amount off the ground will only be supported by two points. One is the posts on the outside end of the deck away from your home, and second is the ledger at your home's wall. The ledger is usually a pressure treated 2 x 8 or larger that is attached to the exterior wall of your home, and from where deck joists are installed. Depending on the depth of your deck, more than 50% of the load on your deck is supported by the ledger. It is at the ledger where many decks fail, and the primary cause is improper connection to the structure. It is not uncommon to see only nails used to attach the ledger, completely missing any form of structural bolts or lag screws. 

Another important oversight is assuming that the exterior wall of a home where a deck is to be attached is built in a way that will support the load of the deck. In rural counties of northeast Georgia and western North Carolina, building practices have not caught up with that of mainstream markets, and it is not uncommon to find thirty year old building practices still being used. 


​We often find that deck railings are not attached to the structure of the deck, but rather posts are set on top of the deck surface and toe nailed or screwed into place. Initially when the nails or screws are new the post appears strong and well set, but quickly as the wood around the fasteners expands and contracts this connection becomes weak. As the nail or screw rusts, the structural integrity of the rail post will ultimately fail. We frequently see rail posts that can easily be moved back and forth 2-4 inches simply by placing a hand on top of the post and wiggling it.

​How to properly build a deck: Step-by-step guide

If you decide to take on the challenge of building a deck yourself, it's important to follow a step-by-step guide to ensure that you do it properly. Here are the basic steps involved in building a deck:

Obtain the necessary permits and check local regulations.

  • Plan the design and layout of your deck.

  • Prepare the site by clearing away any vegetation and leveling the ground.

  • Install the footings and posts.

  • Build the frame and attach it to the posts.

  • Install the decking boards and railings.

  • Finish the deck with any necessary trim and accessories.

Hiring a professional deck builder vs. DIY: Pros and Cons

​While DIY deck building can be a fun and rewarding project, it's not the right choice for everyone. Before you get started with the hammering, it's essential to consider the pros and cons. While DIY can be an incredibly satisfying experience that allows you to showcase your creativity and save some money, hiring a professional deck builder comes with the added benefits of their expertise, tools, and materials, which ensures a top-notch finished product. Additionally, with a professional, you won't have to worry about errors or safety concerns. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make based on your own skill level. Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to hire a professional deck builder or do it yourself:

Pros of DIY deck building

  • Save money on labor costs.

  • Learn new skills and gain a sense of accomplishment.

  • Have more control over the design and construction process.

Cons of DIY deck building

  • Lack of expertise could result in safety hazards and costly mistakes.

  • May take longer to complete than hiring a professional.

  • May not be able to obtain necessary permits or comply with local regulations.

​Hiring a professional deck builder: What to look for

​If you decide to hire a professional deck builder, it's important to choose someone who is experienced, licensed, and insured. The excitement of having a beautiful and functional deck in your backyard is unmatched, but it's important to choose the right builder for the job. First and foremost, look for someone who has a great reputation in the industry and can provide references from satisfied customers. It's also essential to hire someone who is licensed and insured, so you can feel confident that your project is in good hands. When it comes to experience and expertise, don't settle for anything less than the best! Look for a builder who has a proven track record of successful projects and knows how to make your vision a reality. Finally, consider the cost and timeline of your project so you can plan accordingly. With the right deck builder by your side, you'll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy your new outdoor oasis in no time!

​Deck building permits and regulations

Before you start building your deck, it's important to obtain the necessary permits and comply with local regulations. Failure to do so can result in fines, legal issues, and even the demolition of your deck. Here are some common regulations that may apply to your deck:

  • Zoning laws and setbacks

  • Building codes and safety requirements

  • Environmental regulations

Maintenance and upkeep costs of a deck

Once your deck is built, it's important to keep up with maintenance and repairs to ensure that it lasts for many years. This may include regular cleaning, sealing, and staining, as well as repairs to any damaged boards or railings. The cost of maintenance and repairs can vary widely depending on the size and condition of your deck.

But don't let that discourage you! Think of all the fun times you'll have on your beautiful, sturdy deck. From barbecues with friends and family to lazy afternoons basking in the sun, the possibilities are endless. And with proper maintenance, your deck will be able to withstand it all. So get excited about all the memories you'll make on your deck and make sure to keep it in tip-top shape for years to come.

​Conclusion: Invest in your deck for long-term value

​Building a deck can be a great way to enhance your outdoor living space and  add value to your home. But don't forget to factor in the cost of permits, regulations, and maintenance for a truly successful project. With the right deck builder and a little extra TLC, you'll be able to enjoy your outdoor oasis for years to come and increase the value of your home. However, it's important to understand the true cost of building a deck and the risks associated with cutting corners. Whether you choose to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, investing in a well-built and maintained deck can provide years of enjoyment and long-term value for your home.

If you're not sure whether DIY deck building is right for you, consider consulting with a professional deck builder to get a better understanding of the costs and risks involved. Contact us today to learn more.

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