Hit the Deck

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Two experts share their tips for building your dream outdoor space

DECKING IS LIKE ICING ON THE CAKE, and with new construction projects it’s usually the last thing that happens. People like to be outside doing things in their yard. It’s really an extension of the house. A screened porch means six to eight months of use instead of three or four, but I recently had some clients from Canada, and they use their deck all year. One thing we’ve seen recently is an increased use of engineered decking materials. Money spent on material is always a good investment — more money up front, but less in the long run. When we’re updating a deck, there can be some hidden costs in getting every- thing up to code depending on what we find. The main thing is to hire a good licensed contractor who knows the code and can guide you through the process. — TOM HARPER, HARPER CONSTRUCTION

IN SAVANNAH, our temperatures change dramatically, but if you situate a deck to catch the breeze in the summer and add some heating elements for the winter, you can maximize your time outside. This particular deck was on a second level, and we cantilevered floor joists in every direction to add 400 square feet more space overlooking Wassaw Sound. I’m a fan of blind fasteners rather than hardware you can see, for aesthetic reasons but also function — exposed connection points can pick up quite a bit of wear-and-tear over time. I always tell my clients that if they choose the right products from the get-go, there’s a huge return on investment, and it can lend a maintenance-free aspect to outdoor living. — BRUCE GREENE, BRUCE GREENE CONSTRUCTION CO.