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How to Build a Deck in Edmonton - with Matt!

Updated: Aug 6


Did you catch Matt from @MHDecks on @CBCEdmonton? No worries, we have got you covered. Here is a guide to building a deck in Edmonton! 

As a homeowner, landlord, renter or first time home buyer one of the main questions is does the property currently have a deck, and if not can one be added to provide outdoor living space.  As a contractor, Matt has had the opportunity to meet with many people to discuss what is in existence and can it be updated if possible also what could be added to the property. Here is a compiled list of key things to think about before starting your project and what needs to take place to help see it through for a positive experience.


Start with a plan!  


Before starting any successful project you want to have a plan.  Sit down a make a list of what is important to you currently and in the future.  Do I entertain?  Do I host family gatherings?  Do I want a private retreat to get away from things?  Am I selling the home in the near future?  Do I want a ground level deck or raised deck?  Do we want to remodel our existing deck or just restart with a new one?  What type of building material do we want to use?  Do we want a lower maintenance deck?  These are just a few questions to think about before starting The sky can be the limit.

Develop a budget!  


This leads to some tough decisions about how big can we build, what type of material can we use, is it something that we can start this year or later.  Stay within your budget on material and be able to afford what you can to complete the project.  You may want to use composite decking but the cost point may be too high and you decide to go with wood but this will allow for an extra you want. Such as a raised flower box or a privacy screen.

What is my timeframe?  


Decks can be from a very simple rectangle/square to an elaborate multi tiered deck with built-in features.  Each deck does take time but be realistic on how long it may take.  We have a tendency to base our time frame on what we see on television this is not always the best reflection on my skill level.  Since a new deck of 12x12 could take one person a weekend to build but can take another person a week.  A remodel of an existing deck can take much longer because of demolition and that there are always hidden surprises. Also, Mother Nature can play into this part!  So take your time when constructing to make sure you are doing it right the first time with the right materials to ensure it will last for years to come. 

Do I need a building permit?  


Whatever area you live in or wanting to build your deck in you want to check with the city or local municipality on their requirements. Since there are types of decks that a building permit is not required.  These are referred to as a ground level decks. Other styles of decks that require a permit.  These are referred to as an elevated deck.  When a permit is required it will add to a timeframe since it could take a couple of days to have one issued to several weeks depending on the complexity and if the permit department has questions on the construction.  So if one is required ensure that you read carefully the permit application and ensure that all information is filled in.  In Edmonton, you can call 311 for assistance during this phase. The City of Edmonton also has a great document available online for free called - Deck Design Guide.


 Who can I ask questions to ensure my deck is being constructed safely? 


Local government agencies will work with homeowners to help provide direction and where additional information may be found to answer questions.  There are also some contractors that can be contacted but may have a fee associated with this consultation. Local lumber suppliers will sometimes have a contractor desk that you can talk to.

How do I get started? 

 

With permit in hand or if you did not need one your first step is to complete a take off of the material and have it ordered. Since special order items usually have a couple of weeks to arrive in store. Most stores also have a delivery option that saves wear and tear on a vehicle.

You then can start your groundwork with clearing, leveling, laying out the deck, marking & drilling the pile holes.  Place your deck posts.  Mount your ledger board if being affixed to the home. Build your beam. Once completed you can start laying out and building your deck. Let the fun part of construction begin!

Install your handrail, stairs, and any additional features.

Sit back and enjoy your new space!

Are there special tools that I need? 


For the most part, basic hand tools are all that is needed. Some of the tools Matt carries but not limited to are:  - tool pouch,  - tape measure,  - carpenter pencil,  - framing square,  - hammer,  - nail puller,  - circular saw,  - sawhorses,  - drill,  - string line.

You do not need to head out and buy the next best tool unless you really want to.  Also, some of the tools you may need could be rented for a fraction of the cost of a new one.


What material is available?  


The market has so many different types of materials available to the consumers but remember your budget and when choosing specialty items if you decided that you need more next year the style and color may have changed and are no longer available. Some types of decking material available are:

 - cedar,  - pressure treated,  - S-P-F (spruce, pine, fir)  - composite, and  - vinyl.

 When choosing a handrail.  There are a few types that are available:

 - wood,  - aluminum,  - combination of wood and aluminum,  - custom creation.

With the above items, a person can always add different features to them such as a glass insert.

What are some of the current trends?  


Since our summer months do not seem to be as long as they use to I have seen a change in what individuals are adding to their space.  Some of the decks are starting to include pergolas for shade on those hot summer days.  Screened in areas for those days that the bugs are unbearable but we want to be outside.  Entertaining space with built-in grills for those that love to cook.  Tabletop fire features that allow users to enjoy spring and fall evenings.  Radiant heaters that can heat a slightly larger area.  Built-in seating areas.  Barrier-free.


In closing the main point that Matt talks with clients on the structure of the deck. It is often overlooked since it is not visible but is critical for the longevity of a deck and being able to expand in the future if you want to.  

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