How should I build my deck for my new home?

I’m having a new house built and need to know about adding a deck to it. Can I build the deck right away? What type of footing do you recommend? Should the deck be attached to the house or not?

Congratulations on your new home. A deck will certainly make it better, but you’re right to ask about details. There are lots of ways to go wrong with deck construction.

My first recommendation is to wait a year before building. There are two reasons why:

  1. First is the issue of soil settling. Chances are this won’t happen much around your home, but it is a possibility. Better not to have a deck ruined by unstable soil.
  2. The second reason to wait is as an aid to design. There are countless ways to build a deck around any house, and without some life experience, you have nothing to help guide you towards an optimal shape and location. Over the next year, pay attention to traffic patterns. Imagine how different deck designs would enhance the enjoyment of your house and yard. Knowledge like this certainly helps.

Over the winter, take a look at the book Building and Designing Decks by Scott Schuttner (Taunton Press). It’s the best I’ve seen, outlining all the highest quality techniques for foundations and house attachment issues. My usual choice is concrete pier foundations supporting the deck on all sides. If your house is brick, then attaching the deck directly to the outside wall works fine. Siding is more difficult to deal with in this way, making a fully detached deck more sensible in this situation.

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