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How to Budget for Your Self-Managed Deck Build

March 29th, 2024 | 6 min read

By Isabelle Braeutigam

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Are you excited to craft an exciting deck for your outdoor living space but concerned by the financial investment? Building a deck is an exciting project, but budgeting for it can be stressful. Without a clear plan, you may be overspending or compromising on your vision, leading to frustration and disappointment.

One of the best ways to save money on your deck is to self-manage your project, where you manage your own contractors and subcontractors.

This approach is different from the do-it-yourself (DIY) strategy, where you’re designing and building your deck yourself; as well as the design-build firm approach, where all design and construction elements are taken care of through one company.

At Custom Built, we understand the challenges homeowners face when embarking on a self-managed deck build. With our 15+ years of experience in the industry, we've navigated through various projects, witnessing the highs and lows of budgeting and managing contractors firsthand.

In this article, you'll gain valuable insights into budgeting for your self-managed deck build:

  1. Assess Your Needs and Goals
  2. Research Contractor Costs
  3. Create a Detailed Budget
  4. Design Your Deck
  5. Oversee Material Procurement
  6. Manage Project Timeline and Schedule
  7. Consider Financing Options

1. Assess Your Needs and Goals

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Determining what you want and need is crucial before thinking about money for your self-managed deck project. Think about how big you want the deck to be, how you want it laid out, what you'll use it for, any special features you want, and how you want it to look. By defining your objectives upfront, you can make informed decisions aligning with your vision and budget.

Overall Tips:

  1. Define Your Vision: Start by envisioning how you want to use your deck. Are you looking for a cozy space for family gatherings, a stylish entertaining area, or a tranquil retreat for relaxation?
  2. Consider Functionality: Decide what you'll use your deck for, like eating, cooking, relaxing, or having outdoor fun. This will help guide design decisions and material selection.
  3. Check Size and Layout: Check how much room you have in your backyard and think about how the deck will fit with your yard and other buildings. Sketch out rough layouts to visualize different configurations.
  4. Factor in Special Features: Consider any special features or amenities you want to incorporate, such as built-in seating, a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen, or lighting. These elements can enhance the usability and enjoyment of your deck.

2. Research Contractor Costs

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Once you understand your project requirements, research the costs associated with hiring contractors and subcontractors for the various aspects of the build. Get quotes from multiple professionals, including deck builders, carpenters, landscapers, and any other specialists required for your project. Compare pricing structures, labor rates, and materials costs to ensure you get competitive estimates within your budgetary constraints.

Overall Tips:

  1. Check References and Portfolios: Review past projects and client testimonials to gauge the quality of workmanship and customer satisfaction. A reliable contractor should have a solid track record and be transparent about their credentials.
  2. Clarify Inclusions and Exclusions: Review each contractor's proposal to understand what's included in the price and what may incur more charges. Pay attention to material specifications, labor costs, permits, and cleanup services.
  3. Negotiate Terms: Don't hesitate to negotiate with contractors for a fair price that aligns with your budget. Discuss flexible payment schedules, potential cost-saving measures, and any areas you want to compromise without compromising quality.

3. Create a Detailed Budget

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With contractor costs in mind, create a comprehensive budget that outlines all anticipated expenses for your self-managed deck build. Include line items for materials, labor, permits, equipment rentals, and extra expenses such as design fees or project management software. Be sure to divide contingency funds to account for unforeseen circumstances or potential changes to the project scope.

Overall Tips:

  1. Itemized Quotes: Request itemized quotes from contractors to understand the breakdown of costs for each aspect of the project.
  2. Negotiate Pricing: Consider negotiating pricing or seeking alternative bids to secure the best value for your budget.
  3. Consider Permit and Inspection Costs: Factor in the cost of permits and inspections required by your local building authority to ensure compliance with regulations. Determine if your contractor is covering permitting costs. Ensure your budget includes permits and inspections.
  4. Divide Budget: Allocate a part of your budget for project management tasks, such as scheduling, coordination, and quality control.

4. Design Your Deck

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Designing your deck is crucial because it sets the foundation for your project. By sketching your ideas and exploring design resources, you ensure your deck fits your needs and matches your home's style. Seeking professional input helps refine your design and ensures it meets local building codes.

Finalizing your design with detailed plans provides a roadmap for construction and helps you budget.

Overall Tips:

  1. Sketch Your Ideas: Present your vision by sketching different design concepts for your deck. Consider shape, layout, elevation, and traffic flow to create a functional and appealing space.
  2. Explore Design Resources: Use online design tools, deck planning software, or architectural books and magazines to gather inspiration and refine your ideas. Look for design elements that complement your home's architecture and reflect your style.
  3. Seek Professional Input: Consult a professional designer or architect to refine your deck design and ensure it meets local building codes and regulations. Their expertise can help optimize your layout and address structural or safety considerations.
  4. Complete Your Design: Once you've settled on a design concept, create a detailed plan that includes dimensions, materials, and specific features. This plan will serve as a blueprint for construction and guide your budgeting process.

5. Oversee Material Procurement

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As the project manager of your self-managed deck build, you'll be responsible for procuring all necessary materials for the construction process. Research suppliers, gather quotes, and select vendors based on price, quality, and availability. Order materials well to prevent delays and ensure everything is on-site when needed.

Overall Tips:

  1. Research Material Options: Explore different decking materials available on the market, such as pressure-treated lumber, composite decking, hardwoods, or PVC decking. Compare their cost, durability, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal to determine the best fit for your budget and preferences.
  2. Get Material Quotes: Contact local suppliers or home improvement stores to request quotes for the materials on your list. Inquire about bulk discounts, special promotions, or alternative product options that may offer cost savings without compromising quality.
  3. Seek Discounts: Take advantage of bulk discounts or seasonal promotions to save on material costs.
  4. Think About Lead Times: Consider the lead times for specialty items or custom materials and plan your orders.
  5. Organize With Contractors: Coordinate with your contractors to confirm material quantities and specifications to avoid overordering or underestimating.
  6. Factor in Extra Costs: Don't forget to account for ancillary materials and accessories, such as railing systems, lighting fixtures, post caps, and deck stains or sealants. These items can impact your material costs and should be included in your budget calculations.

6. Manage Project Timeline and Schedule

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Maintaining a well-organized project timeline is crucial for keeping your self-managed deck build on track and within budget. Develop a detailed schedule that outlines key milestones, deadlines, and dependencies for each phase of the construction process. Communicate expectations with your contractors and subcontractors to ensure everyone is aligned with the project timeline.

Overall Tips:

  1. Segment Your Project: Break the project into smaller tasks and assign realistic deadlines.
  2. Track Progress: Watch progress and address any delays or setbacks to prevent cost overruns.
  3. Leverage Project Management Tools: Use project management tools or software to track tasks, deadlines, and communication with contractors.
  4. Encourage Healthy Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your team to address any issues or schedule changes.

7. Consider Financing Options

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Not every self-managed project will require financing. However, depending on the complexity of your project, securing financing will be crucial to fund your project.

Assess your finances to determine what you can afford. Explore financing options like loans or credit cards to find the right solution. Apply for financing and review terms to understand your financial obligations and proceed.

Overall Tips:

  1. Assess Your Financial Situation: Evaluate your current financial status and determine how much you can divide your deck build. Consider your savings, available credit, and any other funding sources you may have.
  2. Explore Financing Options: Research different financing options for home improvement projects, such as personal loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), or credit cards with promotional interest rates. Compare interest rates, repayment terms, and eligibility requirements to find the most suitable option.
  3. Apply for Financing: Once you've identified a financing option that meets your criteria, apply and provide any required documentation to start the approval process. Be prepared to undergo a credit check and provide proof of income or assets as part of the application process.
  4. Review Loan Terms: Review the terms and conditions of any financing offers you receive, including interest rates, loan fees, repayment schedules, and any potential penalties or restrictions. Choose a financing option that aligns with your budget and offers favorable terms for your circumstances.

Next Steps to Building Your Deck

You're not alone if you've been overwhelmed by the prospect of sticking to a budget for your deck build. Worrying about unexpected expenses and whether your project will stay within your financial goals is expected.

Through this article, you've gained valuable insights and practical tips to help you navigate the budgeting process for your self-managed deck build.

At Custom Built, we understand the challenges homeowners face when undertaking self-managed projects. With 15+ years of experience in the industry, we've helped hundreds of clients bring their visions to life while staying on budget.

If a self-managed project is too much for you, or you have more questions, our team is here. Remember, our team is always here to offer guidance and support as you bring your vision to life. Happy building!

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Now that you know more about how to budget for your self-managed deck build, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project, how much your new structure will cost, and how long it’ll take to build:

Isabelle Braeutigam

Isabelle has worked at Custom Built for over 7 years, learning the systems from all sides. She has become an industry advisor in the customer relations software HubSpot, has a keen talent for elements of design, and currently leads the marketing team under the innovative TAYA system.