Different Options For Installing Your New Deck
When adding a deck onto your home, you'll have several construction techniques to consider. Floating decks, fixed foundations, and attached and detached decks offer different benefits and costs. Deciding which approach to take will require that you understand the requirements for each technique and what the result of your efforts will be.
A floating foundation offers great stability for decks with a low profile, resting against ground level. These are assembled using concrete forms that can be moved, leveled, and rotated until they suit your design. As an added benefit, using a floating foundation can eliminate the need for building inspections of your deck's final foundation.
Fixed foundations are just what the name implies, but they must meet certain guidelines for safety, stability, and structural integrity. Commonly, concrete footings are poured into the ground and upright posts are secured inside them. These footings should be deep enough to secure the upright posts and wide enough to support them structurally. In order to be usable, your fixed foundation must pass a municipal building inspection and must have an appropriate permit.
Attached vs. Detached
Attaching your deck to the existing structure of your home allows you to tie into your floor joists for added support and stability. This will require you to cut into the skirting around your home and laminate two floor joists together. As with fixed foundations, though, this approach will require building permits because of the alteration to your home's structure.
Detached decking relies on its own structure to support its weight and the weight of any people using it. This will mean that your design will need to have extra structural support for any upright beams, in addition to sufficient cross-bracing. Unlike a floating foundation, some municipal building codes do require permits and inspections even for detached decking, so check with your county officials to be sure whether or not this will apply in your case.
Adding a deck onto your home can be a nice way to expand your livable space and enjoy the outdoors. Done well, it should be a pleasant addition to your home, not a reason to have run afoul of a county building inspector. If you're not comfortable tackling such a large project on your own, consider hiring an experienced contractor to take on the job. Not only will they have the experience to do it right, they'll know precisely which building codes will apply to your specific design.