By Ron Mifflin, Estimator
Nothing is more pleasant than spending summer and autumn days and evenings enjoying the outdoors in the Greater St. Louis area than from a deck. The outdoors literally becomes an extension to your house. As it always seems to be the case, though, leisure and luxury come with a price.
Like any remodeling project, ensuring that dollars are maximized means doing some preparation work before even choosing a contractor. The first and foremost before you move forward with deck remodeling is finding a reputable contractor who is qualified, eager to share references and familiar with codes and permitting in your community. What might be required in Ladue, MO may vary from those in Edwardsville, IL, for example.
Overall, make sure the contractor you choose has a solid track record in building decks. They can be complicated and a design-build remodeling contractor like J.T. McDermott or someone of that caliber is needed to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
The Deck Remodeling Checklist
While you are researching contractors, you should also be deciding what your expectations are for adding a deck such as:
- Is it just your wife and you living at home, and you want an outdoor retreat to enjoy peaceful evenings?
- Are there children in the house? Depending on their ages, safety factors must be considered in your deck remodel.
- Are you the social type and like to host gatherings of family and friends? In that case, a deck can become an extension of your kitchen.
- Is there direct access to a deck from the house such as through arcadia or French doors? If there is, do they need replaced or altered to improve function?
- What is in the backyard now? Is there a pool or just a wonderful view? If there is the latter you will likely want outside access if it does not currently exist by adding stairs to your deck remodel.
- Ask any of your friends who have decks — they come with maintenance requirements. Wooden decks have the most visual sizzle but required annual or semi-annual sealing and proper care. The good news is that the materials can be less expensive than composite materials that provide the look and even feel of wood. This is an outdoor structure that is exposed to the elements 24/7, 365 days of the year. With airborne pollens and dander, sweeping and hosing will be required regardless of materials. With the latter in mind, you want to check to see if you have convenient access to a spigot (or one heck of a long garden hose).
- What are the costs of a deck remodel? Be prepared to be floored. The 2017 Remodeler Magazine Cost to Value Report shows that a typical wooden deck constructed in the St. Louis area costs $10,707 of which 71 percent of it is recouped if you decided to sell your house. By comparison, the cost of a composite deck is $17,250 with a 65 percent return on investment.
- While you still might have some spring in your step, think long term and don’t let your deck outgrow you. Make sure it is built as handicap-friendly as possible.
In the past, deck remodels were fairly simplistic and almost primitive. That is not the case today. Built in seating, gas fire pits, great new lighting options, TV viewing and, of course, grilling and/or outdoor kitchens are being added. The new American lifestyle is to enjoy the outdoors as much as you can.
Even the space underneath the deck, typically where cobwebs collected and stuff that wouldn’t fit the garage was stored, has become usable space. New under decking products provide protection from the elements and becomes a nice shady retreat.
Once the heavy lifting has been made by you when it comes to preparing to hire a deck remodeling contractor, go shopping because you are going to want new outdoor furniture, the right umbrella and even some planters to spruce up your new living space. Enjoy the great outdoors.