When you are shopping around for deck contractors, safety must be priority one and with so many homeowners choosing to build decks to add to their properties, more of them are turning to professional experts to get the job done.
But the do-it-yourselfers also know some of the best deck building tips out there, yet choosing to do the work on one’s own means safety is an even higher priority. If this sounds like you, then you understand how critical it is to be concerned with safety. After all, this is your home we’re talking about, where you live with your family. Building a deck should be a fun and exciting experience, not one that is fraught with danger.
You can avoid anything unfortunate from occurring by knowing these safety essentials and practicing them at every step of the construction process.
Compliance with Your Local Codes
Any deck that fails to comply with all town codes and ordnances where you live is going to be shut down. You won’t be able to complete your build and if you do manage to finish the project, you may be forced to demolish the deck and start over again. So that’s why you must always submit the plans for your new deck with the local construction authority that regulates these laws near you.
Without approval from this regulatory body you will not be able to receive a building permit, which is critical for your progress. If you don’t have a permit, you cannot build. It’s that simple.
The pros know that permits are sometimes a mandatory component of deck safety. But the DIY’ers may overlook or simply neglect this part of the construction process. So, let’s review it again, you need to obtain the permits required by law as per your local and state regulations. If you are unsure what the laws are near you, contact your county and city building departments to get all the information you need to ensure that you are in full compliance.
In some parts of the country, a permit is only necessary based on the size and height of the deck you are planning on building. You may need to submit payment on a fee for the permit you are trying to obtain. While you’re at it, check with your HOA, if you have one, to see what the standards and restrictions are for building a deck on your property within the community.
This isn’t so much about the construction of the deck as it is about the planning of the project. This is mainly about the placement of the deck as it relates to your house. You don’t want to plan to build your deck near any windows. Consider the location of any pipes and faucets, lighting, electrical outlets, and air-conditioning units or compressors in relation to the location of the deck.
If your deck is going to raise from the ground, you must take precautions for the stairs. If those stairs will be near any windows, you may want to replace the current glass with a tempered variant. This can prevent anyone or anything falling from the stairs by mistake from crashing through the glass.
Installing Your Railings
Any deck elevated above the ground is going to need railings for safety. Therefore, it’s vital that you know how do that properly and securely. In order to do that, you need look no further than The International Residential Code (IRC), which dictates that any deck over the 30 inches above ground be equipped with a railing height of at least 36 inches. Another thing to be cognizant of are the spacing widths between the balusters that are in place to support the rail. These widths should be no wider than four inches to keep pets and small children from crawling in between them and falling off the deck.
Finally, your railing should be rated to resist pressure of up to 200 lbs. Anything less could pose a safety risk of the rail breaking.
Of course, any safe and secure deck must be built upon a sturdy and dependable foundation. You don’t want the deck to be shaky and that means ensuring that your footings are secured deep enough in the ground below. The footings must be dug deep enough to withstand shifts in the soil or freezing temperatures. Sink them too shallow and your deck will not be safe to stand on much less relax or enjoy with friends and family. An unsteady footing makes for a poor deck.