Creating The Dream Deck
The ‘Dream Deck’ has been a project that has been in the making for 3 years. No, the construction of it didn’t take that long but the preparations for the deck, saving money and layout ideas have been a well researched project.
Firstly, let me start by saying there are three things that are really important to Daniel and I:
- Today, everything is becoming so disposable and not manufactured to the same level of care as it has in the past. With the idea of everything being cheap, it’s usually reflective that the manufacturers have cut corners to save a buck to pass it along to the consumer. We have to think long term and invest up front in better quality to get the best return for our investment.
- A referral is very important to us verses advertising in a phone book or street sign. We like to work with people who are referred to us so we can get an accurate review of the quality of work that is done.
- The house in which we live is mortgage-free. While other people have rent or mortgage payments, we don’t have those additional expenses and can make decisions, financially, that are in our best interest and within our budget.
The journey started four years ago with the concept that a deck would be one day added to the the kitchen. At the time, the kitchen was just a small window. The window was removed and the bricks cut out to make room for a 8’ sliding patio door. A new walk out was created with the hopes to build a deck in the future.
Once that was changed, we were ready to think further about our deck. We had this done close to the first snowfall in 2013. Unfortunately, due to a roof leak that was discovered at the same time. A patch of the roof was made and suddenly our priority for the next year was to have our roof replaced.
We opted for a metal roof verses asphalt. We looked at how long asphalt will last in comparison to a metal roof. Though the cost to doing a metal roof was double the cost of doing it in asphalt. Suddenly, the warranty of 12 years for asphalt verses the 75 year warranty of the metal roof, the answer was obvious to invest the money today then to wait to a point in our lives where it may be harder to find money to replace another roof. We realized we will most likely never to have to change our roof again within our lifetimes. With doing the roof, eaves, fascia and under siding of the roof hangover. Proceeding with a deck with not be an option for 2014.
Over 2014, Daniel did research for designs, materials and general aesthetic appearances that will go with our home.
We had planned on trying to get our renovation to be at the start of the season for the contractors to jump onto first. Once the contractors get busy, you have to wait usually to the end of the season or wait for the following year. We contacted our chosen contractors in very early spring when snow was still on the ground to get quotes and commitments.
Initially, the deck wasn’t supposed to be as big as it ended up. We decided to extend it further across the house and outward toward the side of the house. This decision led to addressing further landscape and structural support issues that added to our budget.
Our plans were to have a large deck with an inclosable gazebo on the top in one area. In looking at the costs of just doing the gazebo alone. We realized that were had to make a decision. Heavily finance ourselves to do the gazebo and deck OR just do regular financing with a 5 year plan and wait to do the gazebo another time. We’ve opted to hold off on building the gazebo and save our money and ideas for another time.
We took into account essential items like the railings. We had to determine what was important to us for view while sitting down enjoying a cup of tea in the morning. Did we want to see our property looking through spindles or have the option to view our property looking through clear tempered glass.
We also had to get a building permit from the town as well as authorization from the Saugeen Conservation Authority. We are backed onto a natural ravine where it’s protected. With changing anything on our property to this magnitude, the Conservation Authority has to approve it. If our changes affect anything such as water run off, destruction of trees and more. The project will not be approved.
We also opted to look into installing a hot tub which would be sunken into the deck so that the view of the ravine is not compromised. We had to take into account the additional electric and chemical costs of having a hot tub. We can justify it as the monthly costs are about the equivalent of a tank of gas for the car. While some people commute to a cottage or go on day trips, Daniel and I are pretty much home bodies and don’t have anywhere to escape to. Our home is our oasis and we can justify the monthly costs of maintenance.
The deck and structural changes of the landscaping would change the value of the home. If we go with cheap materials where we will have to do much work each year such as painting or staining, we feared the deck would be something that would need to be replaced in 10 – 15 years. We had to think long term.
Final decisions involved on who we were going to hire to do the work. What we wanted is beyond our skill levels and we want it done properly. We went with three companies to complete the job.
TJ Construction – Tom
We have worked with Tom before as he and his team replaced our roof. One thing that is most important to us is that a construction company doesn’t leave a huge mess at the end of a day. The team is small and you will never hear the team swearing or arguing with each other. The team works diligently without drama.
We are given a quote and they work towards the goal and take the time they need to do the job right. They do an amazing job of doing final touches or things as a homeowner that we wouldn’t consider needing to be done. Knowing they have quoted the price, we don’t get concerned about the speed in which they work.
While in the process, you can be involved in changes, if required, but just know that your changes will most likely end up as an extra on the bill at the end. Tom is happy to accommodate.
Finally, we needed Tom to work with others to complete this project and know in advance he’s pleasant guy and that people don’t mind working with him either.
Paul Berberich Landscaping and Garden Centre – Paul
We chose Paul because we have an extensive history of working with them. Daniel used to work for Paul and Daniel also knows most of the team members. Paul works will with others and we needed Paul’s team to work with our construction company to help dig holes with the equipment for the support of the deck.
The team of 3 works like an assembly line. Rarely do you see anyone just standing around. Everyone seems to know what they are doing and is really efficient. We appreciate that as are being billed by the hour.
We needed Paul to rip out most of the backyard. Replace a retaining wall, cut cement and transplant some trees. They were also laid down interlocking brick and custom designed a fire pit patio.
Weber Electric – Brian
With outdoor electric outlets and our intended hot tub purchase, we needed to ensure we wanted to ensure the deck is completely safety compliant with proper outlets. At the time of publishing this article, the hot tub has been officially linked to the house but we are still waiting on the outlets and additional lighting sockets to be installed. We are not in a rush to have the other items installed.
Final Layout: We opted for a rough sketch that is close to how the deck ended up coming out. Initially, the deck was multi level in our ideas but cost analyses and space that a multi level desk provides can restrict outdoor living spaces.
Design with Costs In Mind: We were wanting a deck to have more angles but TJ Construction kept the costs in check with making our deck have multiple step outs with 90 degree angles. TJ helped create the final design which made it still amazing and affordable. Some things on the wishlist were doable but requiring a lot more labour and materials to pull off. We didn’t cheapen out, we just changed our priorities.
Hot Tub Extra: We located a hot tub to be able to purchase and install. We found a hot tub that was a scratch & dent model in a showroom. We examined the costs of having different options such as salt water verses fresh water. We also looked at the jets and sizing. Daniel and I rarely have company so getting anything bigger than a 4 person tub would be a waste of money heating and providing more chemicals for a larger tub.
Material Costs: We cross compared wood to composite and realized the composite is still affordable and will outlast the wood. We opted to have a composite decking top with aluminum rails with tempered glass instead of spindles.
Crew Working Together: We aligned Paul with Tom to communicate as they could use each other’s skills to cooperate in the build.
The retaining wall needed to be removed to make room for a new natural brown stone wall. Cement padding and other items needed to be taken out for the new plan.
Re-Building the Retaining Wall
Preparing the Deck Pads
Each of the holes had to be dug 4 feet into the ground to prevent the deck from shifting. Concrete was pour in. Deck supports were added after the cement was dry and the earth filled back in.
Interlock Bricking & Framing
Paul Berberich installed Interlocking brick for the underside of the new deck to be done before the framing. They also proceeded with building a fire pit and final leveling of the yard. Once Paul was out of the way, Tom continued to frame and build the deck.
Hot Tub was also installed prior to the surface of the deck being put on to ensure an accurate fit.
Daniel really wanted a Fire Pit. Paul’s team did an excellent customized job of creating a perfect setting.
Installing the Composite
While Tom laid the decking. Weber Electric came in wired up the hot tub.
Glass Rails and Final Touches
The Final Look
The budget has ran out. We opted to keep our own patio furniture and just accessorize the deck with some planters. The remaining landscaping of grass and flower beds will wait until next year.