We just finished a lake house deck on Jimmerson Lake here in Indiana. There were some challenges but the finished product is just what the homeowners wanted.
I’m reluctant to start out an article mentioning the challenges in the job but I do think it’s important to state them for this reason. There are many builders out there and all of them can build you a deck. The finished product on those decks is going to be as different as apples and oranges and everything in between. A deck is not just a deck.
So how do you know when you’re having a custom deck built whether you’re getting the right attention to the right details and what details you should be discussing and deciding on instead of having the builder decide on those details?
It’s always difficult to know if you have no experience having a particular custom build. But here’s a good sign. How many questions does the builder ask you? When you’re not certain of the answers, does the builder walk you through the questions, implications, and options? Do the builder’s questions make you think of important details you might never have otherwise thought of?
When I first took a look at this home and discussed with the homeowners what they were looking for, we discussed quite a few goals but also the challenges. These challenges included proper disposal of asbestos in this older home and checking for lead paint – again because the home was older. Another challenge was the footings need to hold the deck load. Instead of using 3-4′ footings when we encountered unstable earth on this lakeside property, we ended up using 17′ pilings.
The homeowners had a small concrete patio on the first level that was badly deteriorated. We removed an existing window and replaced it with a 6′ sliding patio door to allow access to a new large 10′ x27′ second story TimberTech ReliaBoard cedar color deck. The deck rails were made of TimberTech Builder Rail with with 3/4 round aluminum balusters.
The homeowners mentioned that they enjoy the view of the sunset to the west so the deck faces West. You can see that the 3/4 inch round pickets were used to maximize the view of the water from sitting on the deck.
The deck was designed to have the decking boards on a diagonal. This has strong aesthetic appeal and also adds strength.
You’ll notice on this picture that we built a custom door at the top of the deck stairs. The owners wanted to restrain an active black lab from leaving the deck. We built the gate with same materials as the rail and used extra heavy-duty hinges for supports. We installed an extra latch to hold it open when not needed.
By looking at these stairs, they look rather unremarkable. But a lot of thought went into the design.
There were 2 reasons we wanted to wind the steps back around to the other side of the house. First, the family also spends time on the concrete patio on the first story. This allows the traffic pattern to flow naturally from the 2nd story deck to the lower-level patio. Secondly and just as important, the stair design now complements the existing landscape which is very important when a lot of people are seeing your house from the lake side.
When the job was done, the owners said they “appreciated greatest attention to the littlest of details“. This short testimonial really sums up what we strive to provide.
Take a virtual tour of this project here.
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