Building a Deck? Maximize Your ROI
In a market like Miami, a deck is a must-have. Not only can you enjoy it year-round, but it offers incredible versatility — especially when you add an under-deck ceiling — and a strong return on investment.
Check this out: The average homeowner can recoup about 72% of their investment in a new deck, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. This compares to getting just 54% return on an updated kitchen or 54% on a bathroom addition. Additionally, while the average price tag for the new construction of a 2,000-square-foot home is about $85 per square foot, a wood deck costs less than $35 per square foot, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
So you know that a deck offers good value for the money, but how can you maximize your ROI? Here are 5 ideas to take to the bank!
- Build it large enough to entertain. Before you spec out your deck plans, think about how you will use them. If you’ll usually use it to dine al fresco with your family of four, maybe you just want just enough room for a small patio table and chairs. However, if you’re creating an extension of your living space where you’ll have weekly hangouts, birthday fiestas, graduation celebrations, and pool parties, you’ll want to think bigger. Perhaps, you’ll even want to design a multi-level deck where you can curate various sitting, dining, lounging, and grilling spaces. Also, think through the amenities. Wouldn’t it be terrific to have a built-in grill or kitchen for such events? Will you often watch a game or listen to music on deck? Be sure to plan for an outdoor sound system or television.
- Create useable space beneath your deck. Most Americans say they’d like a larger home — only 32% of us would choose a home the same size as the one we’re in, according to Trulia. Expand your options by making the space under your deck waterproof. Install a high-quality drainage system so that whatever you put beneath won’t get wet from rain and snow seeping through your deck boards. Add a ceiling and you have a finished space that’s as personalized as you want it to be. Some homeowners use this space as an outdoor living room, a screened-in porch, an at-home spa with a hot tub or endless pool, a play area for the children, or added storage. Check out this video to understand how an under-deck drainage system works. Be sure to choose an over-joist drainage system to keep your wooden substructure from repeatedly getting wet, which will eventually lead to costly rot and damage.
- Protect your deck with regular maintenance. As with any construction, good maintenance will help you get the most from your investment. Sweep off the deck regularly to prevent debris from holding moisture on your boards, which can cause damage and discoloration. At least annually, inspect for any cracks, loose fasteners, and rot. This North American Deck and Railing Association(NADRA) handout provides a 10-point inspection checklist. If you built your deck with composite decking boards, sweeping, hosing off dirt and annual inspections will keep your deck in great shape for years to come. However, if your deck was built entirely from wood, you will need to seal the fibers every couple of years. Apply a deck sealer or stain with a sealer to cover and protect those top boards — much like you would wax a car to protect its paint. While a sealant is usually clear, deck stain can be semi-translucent or opaque. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to seal, try this simple test: put a few drops of water on top of your boards. If the water beads on top, you have more time. If the boards immediately absorb the water, you need to apply a sealer.
- Add wow factor. When building a deck, think of the aesthetics, as well as the functionality. Look at different colors, designs, and amenities. Take time to dream and consult online galleries for ideas. While you’re planning, including built-ins, such as benches, planters, and deck boxes. Consider installing lighting, ceiling fans, and other electrical appliances at the time of construction. Fire tables and fire pits are popular add-ons; however, remember to consider all fire codes and precautions
- Use quality materials. Whether you build with composite boards or wood, you want to start with the best materials. Should you go with softwood or hardwood? Is it better to use sapwood, redwood, pine, or Douglas fir? Go for timber that is more naturally resistant to rot; for example, tropical hardwoods such as ipe and old-growth teak are some of the most resistant. Domestic varieties that are more rot-resistant include red mulberry, Pacific yew, Osage orange, and black locust. Use galvanized metal fasteners and best construction practices. For example, instead of burying wood posts, use anchors on top of concrete footings.
Plan with inspiration and creativity, buy the best materials, and then protect with regular maintenance. You’ll enjoy all the ways you can use your deck now, and you’ll love the ROI when it comes time to sell your home!