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Outdoor Entertaining: Save Money on Decks, Porches, and Patios

A new or updated outdoor living area might be the perfect space to increase your home’s usability - both for your own household and to entertain friends and relatives. A thorough plan is a vital first step in the addition of all decks, porches, and patios. The plan will provide construction guidelines including proper sizing, code adherence, and lumber tolerance.

Planning decks, porches, and patios doesn’t necessarily require an architect or a drafting professional. However, you will need to draw a sketch of what you want the structure to look like before you purchase materials, obtain a permit, and guide the construction.

There are several major issues related to the construction of decks, porches, and patios. If you are a first-timer with this particular type of home renovation project, you should most likely solicit some professional help to design the deck, since a solid plan is of the utmost importance. The following sections provide some general guidance when it comes to decks, porches, and patios.

Association With Your Home

There are several issues to consider regarding how a deck, porch, or patio will be laid out in relation to your home, such as the design of your home, access to the house, available space outside, the grade of the yard, and existing trees or gardens.

Attaching to Your Home

Decks, porches, and patios can be free-standing, but most people prefer to have them attached to the house for convenience. This requires the consideration of any siding that needs to be cut away where the deck, porch, or patio will attach to the house. You will also need to determine whether solid house framing is accessible to strongly support the deck, porch, or patio at the point of attachment.

Beam Size, Joist Size, and Deck Board Size

  • Beams In general, the more footings that you use in a given span between beams, the smaller the beams will need to be.
  • Joists The size of joists can range from 2x6 to 2x10. Spacing can be 12", 16", or 24" on center. Generally, the bigger the deck, the bigger the joists and the closer they should be spaced for proper support.
  • Deck Board The most common sizes are 2x4, 2x6 and 5/4x6. The main difference is board width. 2x4's yield more seams in a deck surface than 2x6's. More 2x4's would be required to cover a surface, but you would ultimately use the same total amount of wood at spend about the same amount of money

Building Permits

A building permit is usually required to construct decks, porches, and patios - especially if it will be attached to your home or is more than 30 inches from the ground. It is extremely important to consult your local building department regarding any home renovation you are undertaking. Keep in mind that some homeowner’s insurance does not cover accidents if the construction project does not meet local codes.

The fee for a permit application includes the cost of reviewing your plan before construction and field inspections that will be done after the work is completed. These inspections determine whether materials are being used safely and according to code. Your local building departing will be able to tell you which inspections will be required for your project.

Outdoor Entertaining Save Money On Decks Porches And Patios,
part of our article series in the Decks, Porches, Patios & Driveways category.
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