Just thinking about the hundreds of hours you’ll spend outside entertaining friends and family makes building a deck one of the most important decisions a homeowner will ever make. But creating those lifelong memories with summer barbecues and patio parties requires both time and careful planning on your part. As such, the worst thing you can do is rush into things. One thoughtless mistake and your grand vision of an outdoor utopia is compromised. So have a look below at the five things you should do before building a deck.

  1. Size/Functionality/Aesthetics

When deciding on what you want your deck to look like, there are many questions that need to be answered. On average, how many people will you be having over to your parties? Will your deck be multifunctional? How about built-in seating? What about a built-in garden? Will it be connected to your pool? So make sure you know the desired size of your deck. A suggestion would be to go through some outdoor home magazines or visit websites like houzz.com or Pinterest for some inspiration. Have these photos ready to show your contactor when it’s time to sit down and go through all the details.

  1. Do you need a permit?

There’s one on every street. That pesky neighbour with too much time on their hands who is more than willing to snitch on you to the bylaw officer. Avoid that embarrassing confrontation and a potential work stoppage by making sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order. Call your town or city and ask if you need a permit before building a deck.

  1. Materials

Remember when your building a deck, there are many options to choose from that vary in both quality and price. Redwood or cedar? Metal, glass or wood railings? Research the benefits and drawbacks for each type of material and the cost so you have a good idea as to whether it falls within your budget.

  1. The Base

Never forget about the animal kingdom when building a deck. The likelihood of racoons, squirrels and rodents taking refuge underneath it is great if you don’t protect it with a strong base. In addition to concrete footings, ask about the best ways to ensure that pest control is strongly enforced.

  1. Talking to a Contractor

When sitting down with (multiple) contractors to iron out the details of your deck, make sure that in addition to seeing their references, you also ensure that the following boxes have been ticked off:

  • Price
  • Description of work
  • Dates/timeline
  • Right of recision
  • Insurance
  • Warranty
  • Release of liens