When it comes to designing a deck, there are many different variables you must consider. One of those is whether you want a freestanding deck or one that is attached to your house. There are many reasons why you may want to choose a freestanding deck even though it will tack on a little extra cost and building materials.
What is the difference?
The main difference between a freestanding deck and one that is attached to your house is just like it sounds. One is attached to your home, while the other stands freely in your yard. In most cases you will see this type of deck surrounding a pool or supporting a gazebo type of structure. However, they are becoming more and more popular for those who want a deck built off of their home.
Why choose a freestanding deck?
One reason many homeowners choose a freestanding deck is because it supports itself and doesn’t add any weight to the structure of your home. This can be especially helpful if you own an older home, that shouldn’t bear any more weight than it already is. When a deck is built attached to a house, your home is responsible for supporting half of the weight of the deck, furniture, and people who are on it. This type of deck can be built to appear that it is attached to your home so to the naked eye you would never know it wasn’t attached.
It is true that building a freestanding deck will add some cost, but you might find that the cost under-weighs the benefits. It won’t necessarily blow your budget when you build this type of deck because it is only a few extra footings and columns. It shouldn’t make a significant change in labor costs either because the crew will already have to build the foundation of the deck, make sure it is properly braced and level.
There are many benefits to having a freestanding deck, one might be that you have a split-level home that won’t allow for proper support of an attached deck. Another is if you have a stone foundation, there might not be a way to attach a deck to your home. You might be able to avoid having to get a building permit. Most states have adopted the International Residential Code (IRC 2009, para. R105.2) which states that “Decks not exceeding 200 square feet (18.58 m²) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4″ are freestanding structures and do not require a building permit. If your state has adopted this code, then it might well be worth avoiding the headache of having to get a building permit. Freestanding decks also have a lot of other benefits
- Height options that aren’t feasible or possible with attached decking
- No drilling into your home
- No worrying about the structure of you home and how the deck will effect it
- Can be built in just about any style and can be made to accommodate a pool or garden
- Easier to replace your old deck
What is the downside?
There are very few negatives to building a freestanding deck, but there are a couple that you should be aware of.
- Excess cost for footers, columns, bracers, flashing, and labor
- Possibility of slanting if bracing and footing is done incorrectly
- Less stability, if it isn’t properly stabilized
As you can see, the list is very short, as long as you have a trust-worthy builder there should be no reason to build a detached deck.
What about ledger board attachments?
Ledger board attachments are only required for attached decks. However, if you are building a freestanding deck that will sit right up against your house, you will want to make sure that flashing is properly installed to prevent water from leaking onto or into your home. These can cause serious issues such as mold growth and rotting wood.
Although you might prefer an attached deck it might not be a possibility. The upside is that a freestanding deck not only will allow you to still have a deck, but one that you can completely customize to your specific needs. These types of decks are becoming more and more common as homeowners strive to update their homes and make additional living spaces.
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