Maybe buying a vacation home isn’t in the budget this summer. This means you’ll be spending a lot more time in your backyard to enjoy the remaining sunny days.
But, if you would rather spend time melting indoors instead of relaxing on your outdated deck, it’s maybe time for a backyard upgrade. We won’t take you through all the steps for how to build a deck, like pile diameters and joist sizes (although you will need to know those things). But, we will share a few tips on how to get ready to build your new deck with as little stress as possible.
Here’s what you need to know before tearing off your current deck and breaking ground on a new one.
Check You Have The Right Insurance
We’re going to get the most boring stuff out of the way first.
There are two types of insurance you likely have on your home; property insurance and title insurance.
Property insurance helps pay for the cost of damage or theft to your home, such as hail, water, or fire. When you complete your deck, you’ll want to let your insurer know so the deck can be added to your policy.
Title insurance protects your ownership of the property. For example, title insurance covers the cost of your neighbour's error when they decide to build a fence on your property and has to be moved or protects you against identity theft on your property title.
Now, title insurance won’t protect you if you decide to make changes to your property without proper permitting or not meeting code. However, we still recommend purchasing a one-time policy in case there are any issues with your real property report or property deficiencies when you do go to complete permitting.
Even if your title insurance doesn’t cover all the costs of incorrect paperwork, the one-time fee to protect you from title identity theft is worth it.
Call Before You Dig
We don't need to say much else here. Before your shovel hits the ground, call your utility company to survey your property. This is a free service the company provides, marking any underground utilities on your property.
This is good advice even if you’re digging a new garden. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that clang of the shovel on an underground pipe!
Most companies recommend calling at least three working days (not weekends) in advance of digging. Depending on the season, it may take longer for the company to send someone out. If you’re planning to build, make a request at least 30 days in advance and give yourself some breathing room.
What Comes First - The Design or The Permit?
Depending on the structure and size of the deck, you'll likely need a permit. In most cases, the design for your deck will likely come before you get a permit. If you’re hiring a company to do the build, they will often design your deck to your local bylaw specifications.
However, to save you money and time when you’re building a deck yourself, research your local bylaw’s website for their permitting and inspection requirements related to your project. It can get confusing when trying to navigate the various permits and codes, back to our previous line about minimum pile diameters and joist size, so chat with their representatives to know exactly what they’re looking for.
Paying For Your New Deck
Depending on what you use for your building materials, plan to spend anywhere from $50 - $85/ sq. foot (including labour) on your new deck.
As a general rule, your deck should be about the size of the largest room in your house, on average 300 - 400 sq. feet. We’ll leave you to do the calculations, but it’s not cheap to build a new deck. So, how do you pay for your project?
Use Credit Responsibly: Most likely, you’ll be using either your credit card or line of credit to pay for your building supplies and/or contractor costs. And there’s nothing wrong with that! You’re going to need your credit card to order materials.
All we say is make sure you have a plan to pay off those costs over a reasonable period. No one likes paying more interest than they have to! This advice also goes for store credit cards, like a Home Depot or Canadian Tire card. While you can get great cashback and savings on supplies, make sure you’re making payments on that card to avoid their high-interest charges.
Refinance Your Mortgage: While we won’t swing an actual hammer, we can still help you build a deck. Refinancing means renegotiating your current mortgage to lower your payments or borrowing costs. Refinancing your mortgage allows you to access the equity in your home so you can use the extra cash for your new deck!
Cash Savings: The final option to pay for your new deck is to use your savings. Maybe you’ve already been saving money in your Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a savings account. What we would advise here is to not take out all of your money from these accounts. You do want to have some cushion in case of cost overages or other emergencies.
Now you’re ready to start building your new deck! Just make sure that when it’s finished (and inspected!) you invite us over for a beverage.