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Planning and Materials – Deck Building Step by Step Part 1

Planning and Materials – Deck Building Step by Step Part 1
This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Building My Deck Step by Step
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Getting Started Deck Building

From the plan drawings to the joists, what you do at the beginning of deck building can make a difference in both the ease in completing the project and the life of the finished project.

Think about what materials you would like to use on your deck as you have many choices and knowing what you are going to use before you do any drawings is a good idea.

Check your local building codes as well before hand so you understand if you will be needing a building permit or not.

In some locations like my own, any deck over 600mm or 24 inches off the ground requires a building permit.

Building Permit For DeckMany people avoid this step, which I have yet to understand. For me safety comes first and cutting corners is never something I do or want others to do. Passing your inspections is something to be proud of and if ever you go to sell your house and the buyer asks about any renovations done you can prove to them that they are all legal and done right. This can be a huge selling feature to a smart homebuyer.

Actually my neighbor laughed when I told him I pulled a permit for my deck. All it cost me was $100 for a building permit and with that comes peace of mind. Oh, I bet my neighbor does not know that the city can demand you remove something you built without a permit. So if you need one get one after you have your plans drawn up.

Next decide on the size you would like your new deck. You can take a garden hose and lay it on the ground in the shape and approximate size you think you would like to have. It is easy to tweak it now, rather then later when construction starts.

Now that you know the basic layout, stairs, widths, length and height as well as, areas and their uses you can start to get drawings done.

For decks that do not need permits you can either have a store like Home Depot, Lowes or Rona do your deck plan on their store systems or you can also sketch up something at home.

If you deck building needs a permit and you are qualified to create the plans then do so, I did my own as well. If you are not qualified by having knowledge of construction and the codes then I highly suggest hiring a professional draftsperson to do it for you. (You will need proper drawings for the permit which includes – a site plan, a framing plan, a section plan, decking plan and also railing details)


Wood Deck Building MaterialsAfter your plans are completed, it is now time to make your materials list for both ordering the items needed as well as if you need to work within a budget you can figure out all the materials needed and do a costing spreadsheet.

You may be surprised how many items are needed just to build a deck.

Remember you have more then just lumber; there is joist hangers, brackets, concrete, sonotubes, screws, nails, tool rentals, tools, finishing materials, delivery of materials and also garbage removal.

(I budgeted $350 for my garbage removal as I had an old deck and old fence to get rid of)

If you had the home centre do your plans, then they should be able to do takeoffs from the set of drawings they created and make a quote up for you.

To view and download my deck plans, site plans and view my list of materials and costing spreadsheet please share this post by using the buttons below.

Series Navigation .... Deck Footings – Deck Building Step by Step Part 2 >>
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Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any woodworking or home improvement task!


  1. Very useful information – I’m building footings in Alberta for a 10×16 and there are quite a variety of methods out there

    • HI Andy,

      You mention you need footings for a 10×16, is that a deck you are building, a shed or something else?

      I guess it really depends on the type of structure you are building and also your needs.
      Thanks for dropping by.

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