How to plan for an outdoor deck

A deck large enough for a couple of chairs is big enough to become an outdoor living space, even though it only seats two. Increase the area of the deck and you increase your outdoor living space to accommodate family and friends. When planning your outdoor living space, you might start by envisioning a deck and the location of new outdoor furniture. Before you start designing the deck though, there are important considerations to investigate.

Location of utilities

Request a check for underground utilities in the area where you want to place your deck. Better yet, in case the desired area is heavily laden with buried utilities, enlarge the inspection area so an alternate deck design plan can be created if needed. Underground utilities may include telephone, gas, electric, or water or sewage pipes. To find out who to call in your area, in your web browser, type "miss utility" and then type in your state or call 811 before you dig. A representative will be sent to your location to mark underground utilities with paint or small flags.

Get permission

Obtain the appropriate building permits for your project. Contact your town hall, who will want to see plans of the project to identify things like: will the deck will be attached to the house or be freestanding, or will the deck be one level or multiple levels.

In addition, if you live in an area with a homeowner's association, you may need their permission before you build your deck.

Location of the deck

Decks for family use are typically accessed from the kitchen or family room/living room. This type of deck will also have steps to the yard. A deck accessed from a bedroom may not have steps to the yard to give privacy to the bedroom and deck.

Choose a location for the deck that is preferably not going to extend under a bathroom window. The deck might wrap around one or more corners of the house to create additional seating areas or to place the cook areas out of sight from the main deck.

Consider starting with a small deck of about 12 feet square with a plan to expand the deck outward on one or more sides as your needs (or money) expands.