Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Custom Decks

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Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Custom Decks

While it is true that deck building can be an immensely rewarding process for the DIYer, there are some common mistakes to avoid when building custom decks. At Olympic Decks, we’ve seen it all and are happy to share some secrets of the trade to avoid less-than-desirable outcomes– from mild embarrassment to serious safety hazards.

Part of the appeal of being a homeowner is enjoying your backyard on a deck you built with your own two hands. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as hanging out with friends and family on a well-constructed deck. Plus, it’s a nice ego boost to be showered with compliments on your skilled craftsmanship. The last thing you want to hear is your friend, Ed, pointing out an uneven deck board, or mentioning the fact that your deck is blocking the dryer vent. Trust us, we all have that one friend like Ed.

At Olympic Decks, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and techniques needed to create a deck that is not only a source of pride but also a durable and safe addition to your Seattle-area home. Let’s get into the top deck-building mistakes to avoid, ensuring your deck becomes the envy of friends (even Ed) and the perfect extension of your outdoor living space.

Mistakes To Avoid When Building Custom Decks
Olympic Decks Builder

1. Failing to Plan Properly

Diving headfirst into building your dream deck without a solid plan is like setting sail without a map—you might end up somewhere, but it’s probably not where you intended to go. The # 1 mistake to avoid when building a custom deck is not having a proper plan in place.

The excitement of picking out materials and envisioning backyard barbecues can easily overshadow the nitty-gritty details of deck design. Yet, underestimating the importance of a detailed design plan is where many DIYers find themselves adrift.

Underestimating the Importance of Design: 

Imagine this: you’ve spent weekends building what you thought would be the ultimate entertainment space, only to realize your deck can’t comfortably fit your patio furniture, let alone host your extended family for a summer cookout.

A lack of a detailed design plan can lead to a deck that’s visually appealing but functionally awkward—too narrow for lounging chairs or positioned in a way that misses the afternoon sun. It’s the little details in the design phase that dictate whether your deck enhances your home or becomes just another space.

Not Considering the Deck’s Purpose: 

A deck isn’t just an addition to your home; it’s an extension of your living space. Before you hammer the first nail, take a moment to think about how you envision using this space. Is it a quiet retreat for morning coffees and reading? A robust entertainment area for dining and parties? Or maybe a safe play space for the kids and pets? Planning with these purposes in mind ensures your deck serves your lifestyle needs, avoiding the one-size-fits-all trap and making your backyard the place to be—for every occasion.

When building a custom deck, a well-thought-out plan is the blueprint for success. It’s what separates the decks that dazzle from the decks that disappoint. So, take a cue from the pros at Olympic Decks: sketch, plan, and dream BEFORE you build. Your future self (and maybe even Ed) will thank you.

Mistakes To Avoid When Building Custom Decks
Olympic Decks Builder

2. Ignoring Local Building Codes and Regulations

Our # 2 mistake to avoid when building a custom deck is ignoring building rules and regulations. Building a deck in Seattle—or anywhere in the U.S., for that matter—without acknowledging the essential roadmap of permits and regulations is a surefire way to encounter major detours and dead ends.

Deck permits stand as the golden ticket for lawful construction, a necessity embraced by cities and towns across the USA. Yet, the complexity deepens with some states demanding stamped construction drawings from engineers, adding another layer to the permit puzzle.

Always start your deck project on the right foot by consulting your local building authorities early. Understanding the permit process is crucial to avoid complications later. Here are some proactive ways to avoid mistakes when building a custom deck:

  • Secure Necessary Permits: Don’t start building without the right permits in hand.
  • Follow Local Building Codes: Ensure your deck design complies with all local regulations.
  • Check Zoning Requirements: Avoid future issues by confirming your deck meets all zoning criteria.
  • Consult with HOA: If applicable, make sure your deck project aligns with HOA guidelines.
  • Learn from Others: Speak with neighbors who’ve successfully completed deck projects to gather valuable insights.

The key to a smooth deck-building experience lies in due diligence—securing permits, adhering to local codes, and aligning with zoning requirements from the get-go. This proactive approach not only safeguards against potential legal and financial pitfalls but also ensures your deck’s foundation is as sturdy in paperwork as it is in structure.

For those under the watchful eye of a Homeowner’s Association, this step is doubly critical. Material restrictions and design stipulations often come with the territory, necessitating a thorough homework routine and consultation with neighbors who’ve successfully navigated the process. When in doubt, reach out to Olympic Decks who can help walk you through the permit process.

3. Choosing the Wrong Materials

The # 3 spot for mistakes to avoid when building a custom deck goes to incorrect material selection. Of course, every homeowner wants their deck to look a certain way, but choosing a decking material for its appearance only, or because it was on sale, could affect the longevity, appearance, and functionality of your deck. Here’s a quick guide to making informed choices:

Material Suitability:

  • Climate Consideration: Choose materials that can withstand the Seattle weather conditions—be it rain, snow, or sun.
  • Usage: Think about the deck’s purpose. High-traffic areas may require more durable materials.
  • Maintenance: Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in upkeep. Some materials demand more maintenance than others.

Cost vs. Quality:

  • Initial Cost vs. Longevity: While it’s tempting to choose cheaper materials, higher-quality options often offer better durability and longer life spans, saving money in the long run.
  • Investment in Quality: Quality materials can enhance the aesthetic appeal and increase your home’s value when it’s time to sell your home.

Do some research on the decking material you choose before purchasing them. It may seem like a great idea to buy those discounted deck boards, but you won’t be smiling when you have to replace them in a few years.

Olympic Decks uses only the best quality materials to build decks, from Deckorators, Trex, and Timbertech and we highly recommend these brands to ensure that your deck not only looks great upon completion but remains an attractive and sturdy feature of your home for years to come.

Mistakes To Avoid When Building Custom Decks
Olympic Decks Builder

4. Overlooking Safety Features

The # 4 spot on our list of mistakes to avoid when building a deck, is to forget about deck safety features. If you only focus on the aesthetics you could be jeopardizing the safety of your loved ones and pets, Ensuring the safety of your deck is as crucial as its design and materials.

Here’s what you need to consider to keep your deck safe and inviting:

  • Secure Railings: Ensure railings are sturdy and meet local height requirements to prevent falls.
  • Safe Stairs: Design stairs with safety in mind, incorporating handrails and making sure steps are of uniform size to avoid tripping.
  • Adequate Lighting: Install lights along stairs, pathways, and around the deck perimeter.
  • Ambient Lighting: Consider soft, ambient lighting options for a cozy evening vibe.

By incorporating these safety features into your deck design, you not only protect your loved ones but also enhance the overall enjoyment of your outdoor space.

5. DIY Overestimation

Diving into a DIY deck project is a bit like deciding to cut your own hair pre-big event—it seems like a great idea until you’re halfway through and realize maybe you’re not as skilled as you thought. Sure, the thought of showing off your handiwork to friends and family is tempting.

The truth is, that the complexities of design, permits, and construction can overwhelm even the most enthusiastic homeowners. This is where the expertise and experience of Olympic Decks can make a significant difference.

5 Reasons to Hire Professional Deck Builders at Olympic Decks:

  • Professionalism Ensures Work Done Right: Avoid the pitfalls of guesswork with our professional team, ensuring your deck is built correctly from the ground up.
  • Mastery of Building Codes: With Olympic Decks, there’s no need to navigate the maze of local building codes and regulations—we’ve got that covered.
  • Access to High-Quality Materials: Our relationships with suppliers mean your deck will be constructed with the best materials available, tailored to fit your project’s needs and budget.
  • Uncompromised Safety: We prioritize safety in every aspect of our work, from the initial design to the final nail, ensuring your outdoor space is secure for everyone.
  • Experienced Craftsmanship: Our team brings years of skilled craftsmanship to the table, translating your vision into a durable, beautifully finished deck that stands the test of time.

Taking on a DIY deck project without the necessary expertise can lead to subpar results that could be embarrassing, or worse yet, dangerous. Partnering with Olympic Decks not only elevates the quality and durability of your project but also ensures a seamless process from conception to completion. Let us help you build your deck to avoid the # 5 common mistakes to avoid when building a custom deck (and all the less common ones, too).

Mistakes To Avoid When Building Custom Decks
Olympic Decks Builder

Building Your Dream Deck Minus the Drama

So, there you have it— the 5 mistakes to avoid when building a custom deck for DIYers. From the pitfalls of poor planning to the trap of underestimating local regulations, and the all-too-common material mishaps, we’ve covered the ground to keep you on the right track. And let’s not forget the importance of ensuring your deck doesn’t become a safety hazard or, worse, a legend among friends for all the wrong reasons.

Building a custom deck should be an exciting journey, not a cautionary tale. That’s where a team like Olympic Decks swings into action. We’re here to transform your decking dreams into a sturdy, stylish reality—without the drama.

So don’t go it alone! Contact Olympic Decks today for a consultation. Together, we’ll make sure your deck is remembered for all the right reasons—solid craftsmanship, stunning design, and zero embarrassing mishaps. Let’s build something great together!

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