Homeowners love a beautiful outdoor space. When form and function comes together in a perfect harmonious balance the results can be breathtaking. But amazing outdoor spaces cost money. The more elaborate, the more dollars needed to pull it off.

This is one of the primary reasons many homeowners turn into weekend warrior do-it-yourselfers. Saving money on expensive labor leaves funds available for larger plans and better materials. Makes great sense, but unfortunately, DIY projects can be plagued with a host of unforeseen problems

We don’t want that to happen to you. So we want to share with you 5 common mistakes people make when building a deck. Avoid these prime DIY pitfalls and you’ll be enjoying your new outdoor paradise sooner than you think.

1. Poor planning.

Building a deck takes a lot of planning. It requires more than screws, some wood beams, and a few deck boards.

Failure to plan properly can lead to poor construction, budget killing surprise expenses, and code violations.

Before you head to the local home improvement store and load up your pickup, take the time to plan.

Get your design specs in order. Build out your supply list and leave some wiggle room for unexpected costs. Finally, talk to your local construction office and find out what’s required by code, what permits are needed, and what (if any) limitations you are subject to.

2. Improper footers

Every structure is only as good as its foundation. One of the worst, and sometimes costly, mistakes a homeowner can make is building a deck on the wrong footers or footers that are not dug deep enough.

Don’t half-ass it.

Find out what’s required by code. Figure out what’s best for your application, soil type, and property grade. Nail your foundation then move on to the rest of your project.

3. Wrong materials.

Pressure treated lumber, composite decking, vinyl … the choices are numerous. There is no one size fits all when it comes to building a deck. For example, if you aren’t planning on staying in your house for more than 5 years then composite decking might not be the way to go.

Also, if you do go composite but live in a very shady neighborhood then you could be regretting things if you buy a light grey, low-grade product that produces a harvest of mold for you to contend with every year.

Do your research. Compare all your choices and weigh the pros and cons of each. Make sure you have exactly what you want before you start screwing in your first deck board. 

4. Improperly installed ledger boards

Some estimate that as high as 90% of deck collapses (something you clearly want to avoid) occur because of deck separation from the house. This is primarily due to poor installation of the ledger board.

Trust us, all the screws in the world won’t make up for some good old-fashioned galvanized lag screws. It’s imperative that you use the correct hardware when attaching your ledger board … and don’t skimp on the flashing either.

5. Not following manufacturers’ instructions

Yes, we know … sounds a bit cliché, but it’s an absolute necessity that you follow the manufacturers’ instruction when you build your awesome deck.

For example, if you buy a lower grade, low-cost composite decking then make sure you find out what the maximum span of your floor joists should be to avoid sagging of your deck boards. 16” on center might work for a hardy pressure treated plank, but it’s not going to “cut it” for many composite decking manufacturers.

DIY is not a bad option for homeowners looking to maximize their return on investment. But if you make any of these critical mistakes (and these are just 5 of many) then you could be setting yourself up for a world-class nightmare.

New Life has been building quality decks for homeowners for over 10 years. We have the expertise to ensure that your deck is built the way it needs to be so you can enjoy it for many years to come.

Yes, hiring a professional contractor is going to cost you some more money than trying to knock it out yourself. But you might be surprised how affordable hiring a professional like New Life can actually be.

Call New Life today and get a professional quote on your decking project. You might decide to go the DIY route anyway but at least this way you’ll know your options.