Adding a Deck to Your Backyard

Building a deck in your backyard is one of the most popular home improvements homeowners make to get the most out of summer and to increase resale value. It gives you a better view of the backyard; there’s another “room” in your home where you can relax; food tastes better outdoors, especially shared with family and friends. To ensure that you’re making the right decisions for your budget and lifestyle, here are some things to consider before adding a deck to your backyard.

Patio or Deck

If you’re not sure if you need a deck or a patio, here’s a simple guideline: build a deck if you require stairs to reach the entry door; a patio if you can open the door and step directly on to the ground. A deck is better for homes with sloped yards or when the house sits high above a basement. However, a patio is more suited for a backyard where the land is flat.

Purpose of Your Deck

What do you want from your deck? For it to be a successful home improvement project, you first need to decide how the deck will be used. Will you be using the BBQ and dining al fresco? Do you intend on watching TV outside? If the only place for the deck will be easily seen by the neighbours, will you be adding an arbour or latticework for privacy? Do you like to host a lot of parties – perhaps you’ll need a deck large enough for a hot tub or fire pit? Build a deck that’s multipurpose if your deck will be used in a combination of different ways.

Cost of Building a Deck

The cost of building a deck depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • size and location – for example, if you want to put a deck at the back of the house where there are currently no doors, one will have to be added
  • the design – a multi-level deck will be more expensive than a single-level deck
  • materials – composite wood is less expensive than real wood
  • DIY or hire a contractor


When building a deck in your backyard, location is very important. You will want to take into consideration things like the purpose of the deck, its size, traffic flow, and accessibility. The size of the deck should be proportionate to the available space in your backyard. The location of the deck should support its main purpose: for instance, if the reason you’re building a deck is to have some place to entertain, it should be close to the kitchen or living room. If the deck will be built in a location with no existing access to the house, an opening will need to be made in a load-bearing wall.

Permissions and Codes

The deck is going to be just over 200 square feet and 3 feet off the ground – before starting on your deck building project, find out if you will need a permit. You want to include a fire pit: check to see if any bylaws dictate how far away it should be from the house. A hot tub sounds like something you have to have – make sure it’s allowed by your community guidelines. The last thing you want is to tear up what’s already been done and have to start over. Paying attention to specific permissions and codes will save you headache (and money) in the long run.