Monthly Archives: October 2013

Building to Code

buildinginspectorWhether you want to build a deck on your own or hire a contractor like the experienced crew at Distinctive Deck Designs, a building permit is required for the project. Obtaining a building permit for the addition onto your home will insure that the deck is built safely and up to code. A permit will also protect your investment and avoid future costs. For instance, building without a permit can not only cost you in fines but you may be required to tear down what you have already built.

Most building permits are issued the same day that the application is received when a reputable contractor applies for the project permit and is listed as the responsible party. Contractors obtain a building permit by:

  • Submitting the building permit application
  • Obtaining the necessary reviews
  • Paying the required frees

Scheduled inspections throughout the building process ensure that the deck is done accordance to code and if any issues arise, inspectors are there to answer any questions or concerns. The problem with constructing a deck on your own is that a project can change in the midst of construction, so an inspector may find a different deck constructed than the one on the permit. What most homeowners that build a deck on their own do not realize is that even the slightest changes in building could result in a code violation. Examples of common code violations are:

  • No protection against decay – All structural elements must be protected from weathering and against decay. This means the constructor must use pre-treated lumber. If standard-grade lumber is used, the constructor must apply an on-site treatment to any exposed areas of the deck.
  • Too few or inadequate fasteners – All fasteners must be hot-dipped zinc-coated galvanized steel, stainless steel, copper or silicon bronze to resist corrosion. Untreated fasteners or nails can rust within the year.
  • Inadequate or non-approved structure – All structural beams and girders must be constructed with multiple 2x4s to 2x12s. Using 4x4s or 6x6s as girders is no longer allowed.
  • Insufficient support and anchoring – To prevent the deck from racking or becoming a projectile in high winds or earthquakes, the deck footing is required to be anchored against uplift and braced laterally.
  • Missing or noncompliant guardrails and handrails – If the floor surface is raised more than 30 inches off the ground, a guard rail is required, and benches alone cannot serve as a guardrail.

If you would like a deck constructed onto your home in Fairfax, Loudoun or Price William Counties of northern Virginia with the kind of expertise only Distinctive Deck Design can offer, please contact us today for a free consultation.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Deck Builder

professionalcontractorThere are many benefits to having your very own deck. It can increase your living space, enhance the usability of your yard, make your home look more attractive and can increase your home’s value. Adding a deck onto a home can be a great project that only skilled “Do-it-yourselfers” would love to tackle; however, before you go out and start buying materials, perhaps it could be more beneficial to contact a professional for a consultation to see if a contractor is the better option.

You must always make sure that your deck is safe, built sturdy and to code. Even with full knowledge of your state’s codes and the know-how, you could still be looking at spending much more than you have anticipated just from small or quick mistakes that need to be fixed. Remember, these are the things you are getting into when you decide to build your own deck:

  • Deck Design – What kind of deck were you hoping to create? The dream deck you have always wanted? Do you want it to compliment your house and its surrounding landscape or a simple square deck?
  • Code and Liability – Permits are required. Depending on what kind of soil you are working on, there are several construction codes you need to follow such as safety codes, load bearing, etc. Without the proper permits, your deck could be torn down. You also run the risk of becoming liable for any injury that could occur from a deck that is not installed properly, especially if it collapses. A licensed and insured professional will be able to cover any mishaps related to the deck on the owner’s behalf.
  • Materials – Are you going for the classic wood deck? Did you want to use composite decking like Trex for less maintenance? Are there going to be accessories built into the deck like track lighting or anything else electrical?

Designing your deck can be a challenge. When you have a broad idea of what you want your deck to look like but do not have the means or the proper tools to get the look you want, a professional deck builder will help take your designs and make it suit your home. Remember, they are working for a brand that wants people to recognize their work. It is sure to be top quality.

It is important to note that if something were to happen on your own built-deck and you have decided to use composite decking, manufacturers will typically deny any product claims if the installation instructions were not done properly or completely.

Experience can go a long way; one should never tackle a job like deck building if they just do it for a hobby or a “side-project”. At Distinctive Deck Designs, we have more than 20 years of experience in constructing decks and covered decks. Or let us know if you already built a deck and are looking to remodel. Contact us today for a free on-site consultation.