FFf Eclectic Red Barn: 7 Steps of a Successful Deck Remodel

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

7 Steps of a Successful Deck Remodel

Many of us love to live outdoors in the summer and that means grilling, eating, and entertaining outdoors. 

Do you wish you had more outdoor space? Have you thought about replacing or designing a new deck?   If you have thought about remodeling your outdoor space, I hope you will find some helpful ideas below for a successful deck remodel.

Establishing and maintaining good working relationships is important in life and in the deck remodeling process. Many of us consider ourselves calm, reasonable and understanding people, but remodeling projects can stress out even the most “Zen” among us. 

You know what I mean … that old saying, “stuff happens.” The best way to approach any remodeling project is to have realistic expectations. To be realistic, you need to be educated, or at least informed, on the process.

7 Steps of Successful Deck Remodeling
1. The “dirty” side of deck remodeling
When most homeowners think about remodeling their deck, they paint the finished picture in their mind and skip over the steps it takes to get there. I’m talking about:
  • dust, 
  • debris, 
  • scheduling issues, 
  • delays, and
  •  other “little” problems that need your attention along the way.
Whether we like it or not, these factors can come into play during a remodeling project.
  •  As a client, you must be realistic and accept the fact that there will be inconveniences.
  •  As a contractor, you should educate your clients about the possibility of problems, as well as try to anticipate and head them off beforehand.
2. Be honest. Be open. And expect the unexpected (sometimes).
  • Be honest with your contractor about your expectations from the beginning. Clear communication is KEY to a successful project.
  • Be realistic about what you are looking for and what you are willing to budget for the project.
Many homeowners enter a deck remodeling project with grandiose plans that must be scaled down to meet their budget. When a project’s cost exceeds its budget, it is usually because:
  1.  the budget was optimistic and not realistic;  
  2.  the changing cost of an evolving design was not monitored; and/or 
  3.  the client’s needs and preferences were not fully articulated before work began. 
Learn what your type of project typically costs so you can set a realistic, workable budget. And please, remember that contractors, like other professionals, must factor some profit margin into their prices.
3. Planning for your new deck:
  • Consider your needs and be clear and certain about what you’re looking for.
  • What kind of size and space are you envisioning? 
  • Are there entertainment considerations that you believe are essential to your outdoor area?

Perhaps you should speak with a designer to ensure that you are getting the best possible use out of your outdoor area. 

Unexpected spatial limitations certainly can put an unwanted damper on your decking project. Enlisting the aid of a professional designer can be the first step to efficiently using your outdoor area and getting the maximum benefit out of your investment. 

For example: are you more interested in a hot tub or grilling area? Maybe you want both? When entertaining summer guests nothing is more irritating than being crowded into a small space due to lack of room, and planning ahead can save you from a costly long term headache.
There is also the issue of building materials. Be sure to list the materials you may be using and weigh the pros and cons of traditional wood versus composite decking. 
  • Wood may initially be a more economic decision when compared against the cost of composite decking, but will also require more yearly cleaning and can be prone to developing mold and unsightly mildew. 
  • Composite decking offers a less stressful option for those building an outdoor deck or patio, but can be more expensive.
4. Stages of Remodeling

Realize that certain stages of a remodeling project seem to go more quickly than others. For example, during stages that involve more visible work, you’ll have a true sense of rapid progress. 

During other stages, however, when work is more of the “hidden” nature, it may seem as if nothing is happening. If your contractor and his crew are on-site and busy, work is getting done.
5. Design Changes

If possible, avoid making changes to the original plan once the project is underway. For construction to be done efficiently, most design decisions need to be made in advance of building. If made during construction, these decisions can interrupt the work flow and increase its cost.
Late design decisions are also more difficult to incorporate into the original plan. And truthfully, while people believe that they know a good deal about architectural design, they often don't realize how much more they need to know to design well.

For example, homeowners often rely on pictures and do not consider how a picture will fit with the style of their home.  A contractor/builder translates the client’s verbal or sketched wish into buildable form, addresses compliance with state and town regulations; completes or oversees the work, and coordinates all technical and aesthetic aspects of the project.
Of course, sometimes changes do need to be made and will pay off in the long run, in terms of increasing your overall satisfaction and enjoyment of your new space. It’s a matter of being informed and educated, and weighing the pros and cons of making the changes. If you do decide some changes are necessary, settle the cost difference up front to avoid misunderstandings.
6. Keep in mind that even the best-laid plans may be upset by “hidden issues.”
I often refer to hidden building/remodeling costs as “what’s behind the walls?” The answer is, I don’t know until we open them up. When building a deck, some hidden issues that might crop up include:
     Framing and structural issues
Insect and water damage are often the cause of project over-runs. Framing that was supposed to be solid sometimes will have to be removed and re-built. When the current framing is not code-compliant or structurally sound for the renovations you’re attempting, it’s going to require replacing.
     Inadequate fastening 

Many decks are constructed with too few fasteners, weak deck-to-house connections, or improper flashing, which can lead to premature rotting. Every year, people are injured by failing decks.
     Improper flashing
Many of the deck repairs can be traced directly to improperly flashed ledger boards. If the flashing fails and water penetrates the house framing, it can result in severe mold and decay, as well as serious and expensive structural damage. 
7. Maintain “face time.”
One of the best things you can do is simply stay connected with your contractor. I call this “face time.”  Communicate expectations in person, verbally, and follow up via email.  If you see something you don’t like, speak up now before the project moves further along and it becomes a bigger issue to change. Top-quality contractors take their business seriously, and customer satisfaction matters.
Of course, finding a high quality contractor is no small task. Scouring Angie’sList reviews or Home Advisor may be one way to locate a decent contractor, as is word of mouth. Be certain the contractor you have selected has a positive reputation he/she has built with their clientele. Fixing the mistakes of one bad contractor can be a time consuming and unwanted process that can become a stressful and unwanted burden.

 For more information on your outdoor decking needs be sure to visit Fiberon’s blog.

The post  7 Steps of  a Successful Deck Remodel first appeared on Eclectic Red Barn.

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