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Avoid These 5 Deck Building Mistakes and Save Thousands of Dollars

Who doesn't love the idea of sipping coffee on a sun-drenched deck or firing up the grill for a summer cookout in your own backyard?
Deck building can be exciting as it adds a whole new dimension to your home’s charm. But here’s the catch—it’s not always a walk in the park.

You’re probably imagining a couple of minor errors that make you go “oops” and then you move on, right? Well, not really. Some mistakes can make you hear a cash register continuously ringing in your head, as the costs just keep piling up. Simple missteps can rack up costs quicker than you could burn burgers on a new grill.

So, let’s save you from turning your deck project into a money-draining ordeal. We’ll share some common mess-ups that you can sidestep right from the start.
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The Pricey Price Tags of Poor Planning

Here’s the thing about deck building: while we love the vision of spacious layouts, comfy deck chairs, and artsy lighting, the hard truth is that it’s not just a DIY YouTube video project.

If you think you can wing it without a solid plan, you’re setting yourself up for a bumpy ride that could cost you a pretty penny.

Imagine this: You’re halfway through your deck build and then it hits you. Your stunning, spacious deck is too large for your backyard. Oops! Your excitement takes a dive as you realize you’ve bitten more than your outdoor space can chew.

You’re now left with two unappealing options: either go for a major revamp or, worse, start over. Both ways, it’s raining unwanted dollars from the sky!

And this is just one scenario. Building code violations, underestimating material costs, overlooking weather factors—there are countless other tales of oops moments that lead to a parade of problems, often taking the fun out of the process and turning it into an expensive lesson.

So, let’s dig into the most common pitfalls and explore how you can dodge these costly deck building mistakes from the get-go. These top five boo-boos can ultimately help you keep the project fun, stress-free, and, yeah, much kinder on your wallet.
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Mistake 1: Not Having a Budget Plan

Bursting with excitement and ready to bring your dream deck to life, who needs a budget plan, right? Pump the brakes there, my friend.

Picture this: You’re almost finished with your deck, and then you realize you’ve forgotten about that built-in bench you wanted. Now, you’ve got to backtrack, tearing down and rebuilding parts of your almost-finished deck. Hello, extra labor, and goodbye, budget!

Or worse, you’ve built a deck fit for a garden gnome because you overestimated the materials in your head. You skimped on supplies, only to discover you’re short on decking boards. Now you’re stuck with an unsightly, half-built deck because your local store ran out of the exact match. Who knew improvising a budget plan could be so painful and pricey?
Not keen on budgeting? No worries! Engaging an experienced deck builder can be a game-changer for your project. They come equipped with the expertise to foresee potential issues and provide solid plans, saving you from unwelcome surprises halfway through.

Remember, a well-planned deck design not only saves your hard-earned money and prevents material wastage but also ensures a smooth sail throughout your building journey. This way, you’re already on the fast track to enjoy those sunsets on your dream deck!

Mistake 2: Dismissing Local Building Codes and Regulations

“Building codes? Those are more like guidelines than actual rules, right?” Well, the straight answer? No, not really. Bypassing local building codes and regulations is a bit like speeding through a red light—it’s all smooth sailing until you see those blue and red flashing lights in your rearview mirror.

You might be in the heart of your deck building, high on the thrill of seeing your idea turning into reality. Then, an unannounced visit from a local inspector brings your grand project to a screeching halt. Why? Your dream deck isn’t in line with the local building codes. Cue in potential penalties, forced modifications, or even a complete rebuild. Ouch!

You see, these building codes are not there just to be a mean party pooper. They exist to ensure safety and order. When neglected, they can significantly deflate your deck-building excitement—not to mention, deflate your wallet, too.

Luckily, this is entirely avoidable. The solution is as simple as ABC: Always Be Checking—checking in with your local authorities.

Before you start, make sure you know your local building codes and regulations. Do the legwork—ask questions, get clarifications, and make sure you’re crystal clear on what’s allowed and what’s not. It may seem like a tedious task now, but trust me, it’s easy-peasy compared to the pain of redoing your deck or coughing up surprise fines down the road.

Mistake 3: Selecting the Wrong Materials

The glossy magazine picture of a deck made with exotic wood—truly a sight to behold. You want your deck to look just like that, and you jump into purchasing the same timber without considering if it’s the right fit for your local weather conditions, deck usage, or budget.

Fast forward a year, and your once-dreamy deck now resembles an aging zombie: cracking, fading, and a constant splinter risk—major facepalm!

Selecting the wrong materials for your deck is a common yet brutal mistake. The pitfalls are many: less durability, higher maintenance, weather challenges, and premature aging.

For instance, while hardwood might look grand, it may not work best in a region with substantial rainfall since the moisture can cause the wood to warp and rot.

Every material comes with its pros and cons. That untreated pine might appeal to your wallet now, but factoring in the cost of regular treatments to keep the termites at bay might tell a different story. Likewise, certain composite decking might have higher upfront costs, but the low maintenance might make it favorable in the long run.

So how do you make the right choice? Knowledge is your best buddy!
Understand your needs, your local environment, your budget, and the deck usage. If you’re a frequent entertainer, look for durable and stain-resistant materials. If your deck is constantly exposed to the sun, a UV-resistant material is your answer.

Living in a rainy region? Water-resistant materials are your friend. And don’t forget your budget—balance between upfront costs, maintenance expenses, and long-term durability.

Choosing the right materials can seem complex, but remember, it’s your key to a sturdy, long-lasting, and easy-on-the-pocket deck. And once you’ve hit the sweet spot, you’ll not just have a deck—you’ll have a deck that thrives!

Mistake 4: Undertaking a DIY Without Experience

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good ‘ol DIY project? It’s thrilling, empowering, and kind of makes you feel like a superhero, doesn’t it?

But, building a deck isn’t quite like assembling a bookshelf from a box or creating a floral centerpiece. There are aspects of it that stretch beyond the reach of a YouTube tutorial or a DIY guide—where details matter and experience counts.

Deck building can be intricate. Structural integrity, weight distribution, proper fastening techniques, selection and handling of tools, and let’s not forget—those all-important local building codes!

Plunging into a deck-building project without the necessary know-how is like walking a tightrope without a safety net. Sure, you might make it to the end unscathed, but the chances of a misstep and potential tumble are pretty high.
Rather than winging it and crossing your fingers, why not take a safer route? If you’re new to the whole DIY space, consider gathering knowledge first—attend a local deck building workshop, take an online course, or even consult a seasoned deck builder before starting your own project.

Of course, if DIY isn’t your cup of tea or the complexities appear too daunting, don’t sweat it. That’s exactly when you bring in the cavalry—professional builders. Yes, it comes with a price tag, but think about it: an expertly built, safe, and durable deck will serve you for years, without the constant repairs and headaches that come with DIY gone wrong.

Remember, there’s no shame asking for help. When done properly, your deck will be a place where you lounge and laze, not labor and lament. So, give yourself the best shot to enjoy your deck—not just build it!

Mistake 5: Ignoring the Future Maintenance and Costs

We all love surprises – surprise parties, surprise gifts, surprise visits from an old friend. But a surprising deck repair bill… not so much! Yet, many of us jump straight into our deck building adventures without considering the future maintenance and costs. Thrown by the initial excitement, we tend to ignore this silent, potential party pooper.
Remember, maintenance and future costs are not a "maybe they will happen."
They are a sure shot activity that needs your attention from the very beginning. No matter how well you build your deck, Mother Nature has her ways, and regular usage will result in wear and tear.

So, how can you soften the impact of these unforeseen financial outlays? Factor in future maintenance while planning the design, size, and materials. Understand the life cycle costs of your chosen decking material—it isn’t just about the price tag on the day of purchase but the costs for upkeep over the years.

Also, decorate your budget with a bit of cushion—a maintenance fund, if you will. Consider possible future expenses like painting, staining, board replacement, and even potential damages from unforeseen events. A more comprehensive budget helps your financial foresight, so no upkeep cost can catch you off guard.
In the grand scheme of your deck building project, looking beyond the horizon ensures your deck remains a backyard haven. Let’s keep the surprises limited to the good ones, not an unexpected hole in your pocket.

It Starts With a Solid Plan

Planning to build a deck can be as exciting as unwrapping a Christmas gift. Maybe even more so! But if you go ahead, Apollo-mission style—launching straight into action without sober planning—the result can feel more Halloween trick than Christmas treat.

The first blunder of many aspiring deck builders shares the title of a popular song, “Jump Right In.” Not having a proper design or plan can lead to errors, wasted resources, and rehearsing the chorus of “Oops, I Did It Again.”

Deck building is a symphony where each note needs to be in harmony—with your home’s structure, local codes, and lifestyle needs. Some keys you might not be familiar with, but hitting every note right is crucial.
Clear the fog of building anxiety with deck design software tools, or even better, get professional designers on board. They offer services and tools to help tweak your space into an enviable deck, balancing aesthetics, function, regulations, and budget.

Remember, a well-conceived plan isn’t just a road map. It’s your GPS to a successful, hassle-free deck building journey—with fewer detours and more enjoyable pit stops. Whether you’re steering solo or with a skilled co-driver, a sound map keeps your build on track and pitch-perfect.

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