The deck has quickly gained a place at the center of family life for many households. It’s easy to see why, as the perfect deck is an outdoor oasis that can be a unique mix of a living room and kitchen all contained in a single space. The dream of the perfect deck has quickly proliferated – with homeowners across the country considering their own decking options. For many, the first decision they will have to make is whether they want to do it on their own (DIY) or if they would rather work with a dedicated group of deck-building professionals.
For most homeowners, the difference between doing a DIY deck and going with decking pros will be a matter of the scope of the project, what price point differences, the amount of time they can spend on it, and one’s own capabilities as a builder.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits and negatives of DIY versus professional deck building, we will look at all the pertinent considerations a homeowner should become aware of below.
Consider the Scope of Your Decking Project
One of the easiest ways to decide if a decking project is feasible for a homeowner to DIY is to plan out how large of a job it will be.
A simple deck – simple being classified as under 10 square feet – can be a relatively simple job. Its smaller build size likely won’t require as much specialized equipment and the knowledge that the professionals have is less valuable when working on such simple projects. Largely, smaller areas and less materials leave less to go wrong.
On the other hand, those who want to create a large, elaborate, elevated deck should probably seek professional assistance. A complicated decking project can quickly spiral out of the control of the typical novice builder. Consider if your deck is raised high off the ground or has exotic design elements such as a firepit. If so, it is best to leave such complex details to professionals with experience. Bear in mind that you need to consider outsourcing the work to professionals for multiple reasons:
Not every homeowner is the next Chip Gaines, and even if you are able to get the project done, you may not be able to make something that is aesthetically pleasing;
If you don’t use the write type of wood, screws, and support, you or someone else who uses the deck could get seriously injured. This is especially true with highly-elevated decks. If you are an amateur, there is no shame in having a professional do it for you. It can be a good learning experience.
Consider the Cost of Your Decking Project
One of the main advantages that DIY deck building is cost. While your time may be worth a lot to you, it will likely be less than you’ll pay in labor costs for hiring out that work instead. Professional builders charge for materials and labor. Professional builders will charge a premium for the materials they use. This typically figures to be less than 10%, but with larger projects, this adds up quickly.
However, if you think you could recoup some of that money by doing the work yourself, proceed cautiously. Professionals may cost more upfront, but they also could end up saving homeowners in the long run.
Consider Your True Building Abilities
If you are an experienced deck builder or have worked in the trades for years, you may be much more adept at building your own deck compared to the average homeowner. Taking an honest look at one’s building skills will help homeowners ascertain if they have what it takes to try tackling a DIY deck project where you can sit and enjoy food later.
Not sure where you stand? Try taking this quick quiz to help see where your skills truly are. If your last home improvement project caused you to curse, or cost you more time and money than it should have, consider going with a professional to save yourself the aggravation.
Consider How Much Time You Have for Your Decking Project
Lastly, you’ll want to take stock of how much time you will have to dedicate to your decking project. The bigger the project, the more time-consuming it likely is to be. If you are not the best craftsman in the first place, you can expect to take longer to finish than a professional deck building operation would. This makes finding a reliable local decking partner a chief concern.
Local expertise can be invaluable – this is because local deck builders in Ephrata, PA, for example, will be able to pour more manpower and resources into a project than most homeowners will be able to muster themselves. A quicker project that is done by professionals may end up saving owners in the long run — as less time and materials will be wasted.
As you’ve likely come to agree, there can be a huge difference between a simple deck that is raised a few feet off the ground and a multi-level behemoth that you may see in some of the grander setups. Those that wish to DIY a more modest deck are more than welcome to try after they have done a thorough assessment of the project and whether they have the deck-building skills to match.
Yet, those that are looking to undertake a grander deck design are likely better off hooking up with a local deck building outfit to handle the project, as this is often the most efficient and safest option. When in doubt, always consult with a professional before taking drastic measures.
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