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Deck location or siting: how to determine exactly where to place the deck at a building. Even a small shift in position may make a deck project much more successful, avoiding a window, or providing better access to a door, or improving the aesthetic design of the building. Here we discuss the importance of preparing a site plan (you'll need that for a building permit anyway). We also discuss rooftop deck design.
This article series describes construction details for decks and porches taking the design-build approach for homeowners who want to build their own deck.
For many sites, the best location for a new deck may seem obvious; for others, it can be a puzzle. Either way, it is worthwhile to give careful thought to the placement of your deck before proceeding. Sometimes the most obvious-seeming location can create unforeseen problems. Here are some questions to ponder.
Will the deck be accessible from both the house and the yard? If a deck is not in a convenient location, it may go unused.
Many home builders and contractors today are in the remodeling business and are working on remodeling complete homes, particularly kitchens and bathrooms.
They can save their customers money as well as offer the best price could create a safety hazard. And a deck built adjacent to a baby’s bedroom or a bathroom could intrude on privacy more than you would like.
Will existing windows and doors enhance use of the deck or detract from it? If access to the deck is only through a door from the living room, a bedroom, or a busy part of the kitchen, the traffic could prove disruptive. Casement or awning windows that open outward over a deck could create a safety hazard.
And a deck built adjacent to a baby’s bedroom or a bathroom could intrude on privacy more than you would like. As a general rule, decks are most convenient to use when they are located off a kitchen or family room.
At left is a simple deck rendering (not a site plan) but not a bad place to start if you want to picture how a deck will look at your home.
What will the weather be like in the location you are considering? This may seem like a silly question, but they're really can be differences from one side of the house to another.
One side, for example, may be too windy, while another may be too sunny or two shaded. For center wind, consider building an overhead or privacy screen to offset the problem. A deck that wraps around two sides of the house can also offer a choice of microclimates.
Keep in mind that you may want to make some changes to your house to better accommodate the new deck. It's for example, if your ideal deck location is not near a door, consider installing a new double wide or sliding glass door to serve the deck. You can also replace a relatively narrow door with a wider one. Likewise, if a sidewalk or driveway intrudes on your deck site, you may want to consider relocating, shortening, or eliminating the obstacle.
Prepare a site plan
A site plan is a flat sketch or layout, a rough birds eye view drawing of your house and yard.
The site plan can make deck planning much easier and will be needed in most jurisdictions in order to document details you will need to provide to your building department in the course of obtaining a building permit.
Include the property lines and distances to them from the existing structure as well as the planned deck. Also include utility lines that are overhead and walkways, patios, and driveway,t trees, shrubs, and garden as well as septic system components or other key site features if they are present.
You may want to save or would like to block; prevailing winds; the effects of sunlight and shading; septic tank; and other factors that may affect your decision. You may also want to sketch in doors and windows that could affect, or be affected by, the planned that. Compromises are often unavoidable. It's you want a deck that takes good advantage of sunlight, privacy from the tree line and the best view, although it may require building over a garden space or installing a new door.
Considerations when Building A Rooftop Deck
If you have a flat or nearby flat roof over part of your house, you may be inclined to put a deck on it. Such a choice can be a wise and affordable option. Sometimes, however a rooftop deck can become a source of constant aggravation, particularly by causing leaks into the structure.
Because the roof must be close to level, a poorly built that can collect water, causing leaks and serious damage to the house below.
To avoid this problem the roof must be carefully flashed and covered with a waterproof membrane, with a clear path for water to drain.
Watch out: most roof covering materials are not designed for foot traffic and will suffer damage if you simply try using the existing roof covering as a walking surface.
Building atop an existing roof, even if it has a good waterproof membrane such as EPDM, is likely to require special measures to avoid damaging the membrane by the weight of a floating deck or by deck supports. Generally it is best to avoid any unnecessary penetrations in a roof as every one is a potential future leak point. Attentive care to flashing and sealing if supporting posts or pads penetrate the roof membrane.
Finally, existing roof rafters may be inadequate to support the kind of load a deck will impose. To ensure structurally adequate support, the rafters may have to be beefed up substantially, or the roof may have to be reframed.
This is the kind of project that only experienced and knowledgeable do-it-yourselfers should tackle and even then, only with professional guidance.
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 Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
 Mark Morsching, Everflashing, Tel: 800-550-1667, Email: email@example.com. The Everflashing product comes in G-185 and Stainless Steel and is intended for use with treated lumber with copper in it. Everflashing produces a variety of specialty flashing products including flashings for use with decks at deck ledgers and deck perimeters.
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