Pssst! Wanna Buy Premium Remodeling on Sale?

We live in a society of supply and demand. Things that everyone wants to own (a Mercedes SLR) typically cost more than things no one wants (a Yugo). The same applies to services; a haircut from someone who cares about the details and has years of experience in creating the latest styles will demand a premium over a cut delivered by a beauty college student just starting out with scissors.
But what if you wanted that car, haircut, (or in our case, remodeling) that was the better quality option, but you wanted to secure it at a discount. Well, for the car, it might involve looking for a used model, for the latest haircut you might have to look for a coupon or promotion… but what about that finished basement, attic storage space, or outdoor kitchen/deck dream?

Custom Deck, Patio, Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen, Patio, and Deck

Getting the lowest price possible on quality remodeling requires 2 things: Honesty and Flexibility.

  • Honesty: Have a clear understanding of your financial limitations, as well as a list of wants/needs in priority, and communicate these to your remodeling contractor or designer. Once they know what is most important to you, they will be able to revise the project to fit your needs, and can offer revisions and options to best suit your preferences.
  • Flexibility: Timing can play a crucial role in lowering costs. For instance, most contractors in the northeast are slower December thru February, and are willing to work for less just to stay busy during those months– but this may require waiting until that timeframe, or allowing them additional time to complete the project while they work around the weather or availability. Again, clear communication up front– and throughout the project– will help keep expectations accurate and satisfaction within reach.

Keep these simple thoughts in mind, and start the conversations with your prospective deck designer/builder as early as possible to allow you both to work thru any questions, and create the perfect project, at an affordable price.

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Gate Thoughts for Your New Deck…

As a deck designer I frequently get all sorts of special requests from our clients, but one of the most common requests is to install a gate on a deck.

Typically a gate is added for security, to keep pets or kids on the deck and away from the steps, but a gate can also be added to improve privacy or as a fashion statement.

When considering a gate for a deck, consider first the “needs”: should this have a child-proof latch, be self-closing, or rated for pool access?

Trex Deck Pool Gate

Custom Pool Deck

This deck needs a gate

While it may be required because of the location or client’s needs, it’s important to consider as well the location of the gate and operation-will it create an inconvenience when open (blocking travel, or opening over the steps)?

Gate at deck steps

Once you know what a gate “has to” do, it is worth considering what you’d like the gate to look like. Should it perfectly match the deck’s rail?

Matching Deck Gate

This custom-ordered gate matches the TimberTech Rail

Or would this be an opportunity to do something just a bit different to create an artistic statement or accent?

Matching Deck Gate

Privacy wall gate in Fiberon Horizon

Wrought Iron Gate

Custom-designed and built metal gate

Lastly, once you know what you want, it is time to get a price, and see if the cost fits within your budget.

  • As a generic guide, a basic pressure treated or vinyl gate might cost between $250-500.
  • A wrought iron or aluminum gate may range from $400 to $1000.
  • Lastly, a custom-fit, matching gate can often cost $500 to over $1500 installed.

 One thing to keep in mind is that while gates should be discussed during the planning stages, if budget dictates or your needs change, they can usually be added at a later date rather simply.

Ah, yes… the numbers!

In my neck of the country, decks can cost as little as $20 per sq. ft, and as much as several hundred dollars a ft, depending on what goes into them. (Most of our projects end up between $30 – $60 per sq. ft.) that’s a big range, isn’t it! This is where a deck design professional can assist- in helping to understand just what you expect of your new outdoor living area, and the tag-along costs.

But if you aren’t yet ready to talk to a professional just yet, take heart! There are a few things you can do on your own to get a feel for what to expect.

Glenn Mathewson suggests you think thru some of the “rooms” you would like to see included on your new deck, then measure the corresponding rooms in your house. Like your 400 sq. ft. dining area, maybe half of your 600 sq. ft. living room, and just the basics of your 500 sq. ft. kitchen? Well, you may be able to share some of the size (think of your first apartment’s kitchen/living room), but you will need some space for walkways, or “hallways” in the deck. So you may be looking at a deck that is 800 to 1,000 sq. ft. in size. It might be worth doing a little thinking and research to find out what that type of square footage is worth if it were a complete house, simply as a point of reference.

Now that you know the size, and you have some idea of what you want for features (remember, more stuff costs more), take a look at your house and neighborhood. Live in a gated community in a pricey zip code? Or maybe you live back a dirt lane at the end of an unpaved county road.

While a deck builder will most likely build whatever you want regardless of where you live, a seasoned deck designer will usually make recommendations in design and materials that reflect the area, and will complement the design and construction quality of your house. You rarely see a throw-away PT deck attached to a beautiful brick home. Your new deck will most likely cost between 5% and 30% of what your house is worth.

Again, this is all about you, and what you are looking for. Don’t let a deck builder bully you into allowing them to build a shrine to their ego- do your research and talk to professionals to find out who you are comfortable working with, just like you probably did when you bought your house!

With a basis of what you would like to accomplish, and some rough idea of what it could cost, you are ready to talk to a deck design professional to start the process of narrowing down the layout, features, materials, and options that will help define the outdoor living space you and your family will create memories with for years to come.

Setting a deck budget… And how about that design!

So you’re thinking about adding a new deck, or replacing an existing deck that has outlived it’s welcome. This is the perfect opportunity to improve not only the value of your house, but the comfort of your home.

See, here’s the thing. A deck can be a simple box,and that’s not wrong, but with a little bit of thought, it could be so much more. But this isn’t about deck design (at least this entry) it’s about budget. However, your budget will drive your design, so a few simple questions should be considered.

Whenever I meet with a new client to talk about designing a deck, we spend some time talking about how they plan to use the deck, before we get to the dollars and cents. If you don’t ever picture using the deck- it’s just simple access, or you need SOMETHING there in order to sell the house, then we will want to look at designing the simplest and most affordable deck that will safely accomplish those goals. I mean, after all, why have an 800sq. ft. Deck, if you only need a 16sq. ft. landing!?

OK, so you need more than a landing with a set of steps… This is actually something you and your family are going to use.

Again, your intended use of the new deck will drive the design, which will help to determine the project budget. Simply put, the more “rooms” of your house the deck will replicate, the more $$ you will need to allocate to the project, in order to meet your needs. Want a big outdoor dining room, with a separate sitting area, and perhaps a built-in kitchen? Then not only will we need to set aside some space, but we will need a proper budget as well.

Ah, yes… The dreaded budget. Stay tuned for some facts, figures, and numbers!