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So You Think You Want a Deck

Do you wish you had additional space for your family to stretch out, but can’t fathom the idea of an addition to your home? Have you considered building on a deck to your home?

It may still be a while before the housing market rebounds completely, but a deck may help you maintain your home’s value, or even increase the value of your home a bit.

“We often have homeowners who come to us with the dilemma of wanting more space of their family, but not wanting to put in the large investment required for an additional under-roof room,” says Ed Heller, a Montgomery County contractor and owner of Heller’s Building. “Decks are not only cost effective, they help you maintain the value of your home.”

Remodeling Magazine’s cost versus value report for 2014 found that homeowners in our area of the country were able to recoup 80 percent of the cost of building a deck when they sold their homes. But homeowners who remodeled bathrooms only saw 64 percent of those costs back and those who added a family room only recouped 58 percent of their costs.

Why is that? Quite simple, it’s cheaper to build outside. Adding rooms means wiring, roofing, insulation, etc. throughout the entire addition. You’ll be adding stress to your heating and cooling unit, and may even need to purchase a larger unit that can effectively service the whole house, or consider a small unit just for the addition.

But you don’t have to think of a deck just as a simple collection of wood. Experts like those we employ at Heller’s Building are only limited by your imagination, and budget of course. We can help homeowners build the outdoor spaces of their dreams, complete with electrical and plumbing.

The advantage lies in the cost savings to the homeowner. On average, a homeowner will be able to spend less than half as much on an outdoor living space as they would on an addition the same size. The average price to add a deck on to a home in the U.S. is $100 per square foot, while an addition may be closer to $300 a square foot. Talk about a lot of savings!

So what should you think about before building on that deck?

“We want our clients to get the most use possible, so we encourage them to really think about where the deck should be in relation to the home,” says Heller. “We work with our clients to determine who it will be best to access the deck. For instance, do you find most of your company convenes in the kitchen? Or would you rather direct traffic away from the kitchen?”

Your contractor will work with you to determine the best spot for the door to the outside, based on how you like to entertain family and friends.

The next step is to make sure the deck fits seamlessly into your yard. Local codes will most likely dictate how much of your yard can be occupied by a deck, so be sure you ask your contractor about that. He’ll also know how close to your lot line you can build.

You’ll have to consider things such as where to place stairs, how sunlight during the day will affect your ability to use the space, how your privacy can still be ensured. Some homeowners prefer screened in decks, which allow the space to be used in different weather than an open deck, but add a substantial cost to the project.

So how much should you spend on your deck? In reality, this is a question that can only be answered by you. If you plan to truly use the space as an extension of your home and do a lot of entertaining, a larger deck with more sophisticated features, such as an outdoor cooking area, might be for you.

But keep in mind that the best return reported for the 2014 Cost vs. Value report came from a medium sized deck. A 16 foot by 20 foot deck made of pressure treated wood gives homeowners an average national return of 87 percent.

Decks made of composite material are more expensive, but are easier to maintain. The average national recoup cost is just more than 74 percent. Once you add railings, lighting and other bells and whistles, you may only recoup back 60 percent or so of the cost.

That means that in terms of getting the most back on your investment, it’s best to keep it simple.

What else should you consider?

If hiring a company to do the work, you’ll want to be sure you hire someone who uses the best materials and can offer beautiful craftsmanship. Heller’s Building uses only the finest materials, which ensures your deck can be enjoyed for years to come.