There comes a time in every Austalian homeowner’s life where they decide that they absolutely need a deck in their yard. Not only does a deck become the centrepiece of your outdoor area, enabling you to entertain and relax with pride – but it automatically increases the amount of use you can squeeze out of your yard. In the end, there’s no question that it is indeed a fantastic investment that guarantees you the ability to get the most enjoyment out of your property.
Now that you’ve decided to build a deck, you’re probably wondering what the process is. Look no further. Today we would like to share with you a detailed outline that includes the framework for everything you need to know when building a deck in Australia.
Step 1: Seek Permits and Council Permissions if Necessary
If you follow just this one step before doing anything else, you might save yourself a lot of time and energy down the track. Before you build your deck, make sure that you have approval from your local council. Each and every council has its own set of rules and regulations regarding the construction of decks and other home extensions. Some of the things that the council regulates include the type of material you can use, site setbacks, structural integrity, and the minimum standards you need to meet for construction.
When checking with your local council regarding the building of your deck, make sure you ask specifically about what exemptions apply to you. In many cases, you can get away with certain extensions if they fulfil particular criteria, without the need for a permit or extra expenses.
Step 2: Begin With Planning
As with any other home improvement project you take on, you are going to succeed brilliantly if you have a solid plan made before you dive in. You can either do this yourself, or hire a professional if you feel that’s a better option.
The first thing to decide on is which way your deck is going to face. You’ll thank yourself down the track when you’ve considered what time of the day it will get the most use, and whether or not you want to enjoy the sunrise in the east, or the sunset in the west. While taking all this into account, you can decide here whether or not you need to construct a solid roof to create shade.
Next, check out the floor levels of your property and decide at what height you want your deck to be. Mostly people opt for one of two variations: either they build it with steps that lead down to the external deck, or they construct it quite low and at the same level as their floor.
A very important (and sometimes overlooked) step in the planning process is to check out what’s happening underneath your backyard floor. Homes have all sorts of pipes and electrical wires running beneath them, and if you’re planning to build a deck, it might save you a lot of money and other headaches if you first find out what’s running below. If during construction, something is accidentally cut into, it can create a huge mess and cause big delays, even causing some danger. One way to find out what’s below is to call the utilities company and enquire.
Step 3: Decide on Materials
Next, you can decide on what material you want to build your deck from. There are four major ones that are commonly used. These are Hardwoods (such as Merbau), Treated Pine, Composite Decking, and Modular Decking. Each material has its own set of pros and cons
Hardwoods are extremely durable and offer a natural colour and finish that is appealing to many people. Some common hardwoods include Merbau, Jarrah, Spotted Gum and Blackbutt. While hardwoods such as Merbau contain an abundance of natural oils that protect and preserve them, you will want to make sure you maintain and treat your hardwood to guarantee longevity.
Treated Pine is the most economic of all timber options, with treatment applied to it in order to prevent decay and weathering. One thing people love about Treated Pine is that it can be stained or painted to match any colour scheme. It is lightweight and extremely easy to work with, but does require annual treatment to ensure it lasts.
Composite Decking is constructed from a blend of wood fibres and recycled plastic or fibre cement. Being more environmentally friendly than timber, it provides a good alternative. It also requires almost no upkeep as it does not fall victim to the same environmental damage that timber does. If you opt for composite decking, be prepared to spend more money.
Modular Decking is generally made from timber and provides a much easier installation process. The only thing is that it also costs more than traditional timber decking.
Step 4: Ensure You Have The Correct Tools and Supplies
Now that you have decided what material to go with, it’s time to ensure you have all the correct tools and supplies required to transform your decking materials into a fully functioning deck. When it comes to building a deck, these are some of the tools you really should have easy access to:
- Hand or powered saw
- Screw Driver
- Measuring Tape
- Builder’s Line
- Electric Drill and Drill Bits
- Adjustable Wrench
- Spirit Level
- Wooden and Metal Stakes
- Spray paint
- Nail Gun
To obtain any of these is as easy as visiting your local hardware store.
Step 5: Measure and Set Out Your Deck
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to measure out your deck. Begin by measuring and marking out the perimeter of it. When engaging in taking measurements, don’t forget to take into account the height of the decking and joists. Make sure you combine the height of the joists with your height measurements. After this, mark at each end of the sill, and measure from the ground to this point to get your height measurement. You can then run your string lines at this height around the perimeter of the area.
Next you must bolt your temporary timber guides in place around the perimeter of the decking area. To ensure that these are straight, make use of your spirit level. Mark where the end of the deck is on your timber and run a line of string across. Check that your deck is square using the 3-4-5 rule.
Now, refer to your engineering plans to determine how far apart your stumps must be placed. Measure and mark these out from the sill to the deck, then mark along the edge. Following this, run string lines to create a grid. Each intersection of the string is where a stump needs to go. Mark these out with spray paint.
Step 6: Install The Stumps and Bearers
Installing the stumps and bearers requires a few steps. Begin by digging holes for the stumps where you previously spray painted. Make sure they are dug to correct depth, which should be detailed in your plans and permits. Once this is complete, have an inspector come and check them out prior to installing the stumps.
Cut your bearers to size and join them together using glue and a nail gun. Then measure the height for them. You can do this by running your spirit level from the existing timberwork to brickwork. Now measure the distance between the spirit level and brickwork, which indicates the size of the check-out required. You can then mark the check-out on the bearer, ensuring you use a square set to also mark the depth and length of the check-out. This will provide your deck with extra support over the brickwork.
Next, cut the check-out using a circular saw. Make sure you have the correct depth set on the saw. Following this you can level and support the bearer, and then drill holes for the stumps. Now make sure you secure the stumps before concreting them into place. Repeat the previous steps to install all the other bearers and stumps. When this has set overnight, you will need to return to back-fill the holes with soil after removing support posts.
Step 7: Install The Joists
Now it’s time to install the joists. Begin by measuring and marking the wall-plate, and then cutting a check-out in the wall plate. Now attach the wall plate and fix the first joist.
After you’ve done this, run a string line across the joist, and measure and mark for the second joist. Then secure the second joist, followed by all the other joists. When you’ve finished this, it’s time to fit the timber between them.
Step 8: Lay The Decking
Finally, the moment has come to lay the decking. Start by cutting the decking material to size. Once this is done, line up the first piece and secure it using a fastener and drill. All you have to do is now lay the second piece of decking, secure it, and keep going with each consecutive piece till your deck is complete!
There you have it! You should now know what it takes to build a deck in Australia. This step by step guide should have provided you with a blueprint for doing so. If you need more in depth information, please don’t hesitate to call us on 03 9305 2000, where we will be more than happy to assist.
Do you feel more equipped to build a deck now? Do you have any questions? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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