Your Wants, Needs, and Design Considerations
When homeowners think of expanding their living space, one popular way to do so is to extend the home to the outdoors. What better way to do this than to build a deck?Building a deck can be an exciting project, but before you get carried away with building your dream outdoor space, ask yourself a few basic questions first: What design elements would you like to incorporate? What materials should you use? Will they suit the climate and weather conditions in your area? How much can you afford to spend on the project? Can you afford to hire a pro, or is a do-it-yourself (DIY) project more feasible?
In short, you need to decide on the right design and choose the correct materials to suit your lifestyle and your budget—and you need to build a structure that will last.
Here are two basic things to ask yourself as you plan your deck project:
Who will Use the Space?
Do you have a large family? Small kids? Teenagers?
Are there any old, infirm, or disabled family members to worry about? Or is it just you and your friends to consider?
Your answers to this question will partly determine what size your deck should be, traffic flow, as well as any safety precautions and accessibility concerns you need to include in its design.
What will it be used for?
- If you’re hoping to gather family around one big table for meals, allow some 4 feet of space all around the table for people to move around freely.
- Set up an area for your prep and serving. A grill area is often also very useful. Or do you need a full-size kitchen?
- Want an area to lounge around in? Space for the family to watch TV or to listen to your vintage vinyl record collection?
- Do you want to create a zone where you can snuggle with your partner, curl up with a book, or get a relaxing home massage? Pick a shaded or sunny area—whichever suits you best—for this purpose.
- Care for a hot tub? Or a water feature of some sort? What about a bonfire pit that can add to the ambiance—a fire pit can be the perfect addition for chilly evenings.
Before you actually start building, take the time to properly visualize the size and shape of your deck and to plan its layout carefully. Outline the area with stakes and string, then walk around to test the views and to check if there’s enough space around your proposed area to allow everyone to move around comfortably.
Also, consider privacy. Unless you want to parade around where your neighbors can watch you like they would a stage performer, think to build screens, fences, or add design elements like lattice screens or arbors to create some privacy.
In Part II, coming soon, we will look more closely at possible design challenges and what you can do to remedy them.