Building a deck is a perfect way to extend your living space into the outdoors. And who doesn’t love the great outdoors, especially in the summer?
In theory, it’s as simple as building an adjacent platform or a freestanding structure in your yard. But, in practice, building a deck requires a lot of planning and careful consideration. Firstly, you need to decide on the size, location and design of your deck. Secondly, you need to consider the type of material to use as well as the level of maintenance and costs involved. Then, of course, there are building codes and regulations to take into account.
Check out the following guide to help you in planning for your new deck.
From hardwoods to treated pine, there’s a decking material to suit every budget and application. Choose a material that can withstand the climate conditions in your area. Keep in mind that some materials are quicker and cheaper to maintain, while others will need regular upkeep and treatment.
Below are some of the common options for New Zealand decks:
- Hardwoods. Tropical hardwoods are commonly used for decking due to their extreme durability, resilience and natural appeal. They look, feel and even smell great. While they have a tendency to split or splinter in our low humidity climate, oiling and coating will easily solve this issue. With regular maintenance, hardwood decks can retain its stylish look for many years.
Kwila is the most popular hardwood decking, although it has water-soluble tannins which can bleed and stain surrounding tiles or concrete. Another popular option is Vitex, a creamy-grey timber that bleeds less and weathers to a nice silver-grey colour. It’s the middle road timber option in terms of price and quality.
- Treated pine. Versatile and affordable treated pine is a great choice if you’re looking for a low-cost material. It’s particularly cost effective for a large decking project. This type of wood is pressure-treated to become rot and insect resistant. Higher-grade woods hold up pretty well and are treated with water repellents, but cheaper options are prone to shrinking, warping and twisting. Nevertheless, pine is lightweight and easy to work with. Although it’s no match to hardwoods when it comes to aesthetics, treated pine can be stained or paint treated to achieve the look you want. As for maintenance, yearly oiling is necessary for lasting results.
- Macrocarpa. Like pine, this wood species is an affordable and low maintenance alternative to hardwoods. It is acclimatised to our dry climate so it doesn’t need treating. Still, it needs some sealing and restoration to maintain their colour and finish.
- Wood composites. Composite is an environmentally conscious choice as it’s made from recycled plastic and wood fibres, a by-product of the timbre trade. Its composition makes it highly weather resistant, incredibly durable and less likely to warp, rot or splinter. It also comes in various finishes that resemble the natural aesthetics of some hardwoods. The best part is composites don’t require staining or oiling – just a wash with composite cleaner every now and then. Quality varies according to price.
- Bamboo. Bamboo is relatively new in the decking market. Bamboo decking is made of bleached, carbonised and pressure treated bamboo strips moulded into a solid piece. It has excellent strength and density, and is the most sustainable wood-type material to use.
There are countless brands producing decking materials of various grades, so the price does vary. To give you an idea of how much the decking material would cost, here are estimate prices per lineal metre for each type of wood (not including GST):
|Type of Decking Material||Estimate|
|Heat-treated pine||$8 (150mmx40mm)|
|Wood composites (Outdure brand)||$11.50 (140mmx25mm)|
|Macrocarpa||$5.40 for 150mmx25mm|
|Bamboo (Evoca brand)||$9.65 (140mmx19mm)
Decks that are over a metre high must have a safety rail. A balustrade is also a good option if you want to add privacy to your outdoor living space or for added safety.
A good fence can make or break the aesthetics and value of your property, so it’s a good idea to plan and build it with a specialist designer and tradesman.
Generally speaking, if your deck is not higher than 1.5 metres, you don’t need a building consent. However, you may still need a resource consent before you can start your building work.
Examples of work that require a building consent are:
- -Decks, platforms or bridges higher than 1.5 metres above ground level
- -Fences or walls more than 2.5 metres
- -Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres (3 metres in rural areas if designed by a Chartered Professional Engineer)
- -Decking in a special heritage area
- -Building work close to a boundary (you will need a written approval from your neighbours to apply for a Deemed Permitted Boundary Activity)
Even if your decking work does not need a building consent, as the owner it is your responsibility to ensure your building work complies with the Building Code and does not damage public service drains or other structures.
Unless you are skilled in design and construction, it’s best to have the work done by a deck installer. This ensures your deck is structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing and compliant with local building regulations. It can even be the cheaper route as a professional can help you choose a budget-friendly decking material, prevent potential delays and avoid costly mistakes.