Should You Build Your Own Deck?

can I build my own deck, or should I hire a contractor? man wearing hardhat in front of stack of lumber.

Should You Build Your Own Deck?

Building Your Own Deck vs Hiring A Contractor

Whether you’re renovating your existing deck or looking to install a new one, upgrading your outdoor space is an exciting endeavor. If you’re stuck deciding whether you should build your own deck or hire a contractor, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between building your own deck and hiring a deck contractor to build it for you. We will examine how much materials cost, what equipment and tools you’ll need, and how much time each process will take. From there, we’ll look at the pros, cons, and what you might expect to pay for each project.

Table of Contents

Materials to build your own deck

The first difference between building your own deck and hiring a contractor is the materials. In order to build your own deck, you will need to buy everything yourself. 

If you want to build a strong, sturdy deck that will last, you need to do a lot of research. This is especially true if you live in a region that gets a lot of rain or snow.

deck lumber stacked in a shopping cart

You will need to plan every inch of your deck, and create what contractors call “a cut list”. This is a comprehensive list of every single piece of material you will need to build your deck. If you don’t have a truck to haul the materials, you will need to hire a service to pick it up for you. It’s not uncommon for a delivery service to charge hundreds of dollars to deliver the supplies.

Equipment and tools

Deck contractors will already have the correct tools for the job at hand. Contractors use a lot of power tools, and they have the know how to keep themselves safe. Installing your own deck means you have to rent or buy all your own equipment and tools.  You’re going to need a lot more than a hand saw and a hammer to  build your own deck.  All of the tools you’ll need are things that your average carpenter will already have in the tool shed, but your average Joe may not.  If you want to buy all the tools to build your own deck, you’re easily looking at a couple of thousand dollars in upfront cost.  Then, you need to learn how to use them safely!  It’s not worth losing a finger to save a few bucks!

Here’s a list from the good folks at Deck.com on what you’ll need to have on hand to build your own deck:

  1. Spade shovel
  2. Chalk line
  3. Mason’s line
  4. Tape measure
  5.  Drain spade
  6. Post hole digger
  7. Clamps (multiple)
  8. Framing square
  9. Speed square (multiple)
  10. Pry bar
  11. Crescent wrench (multiple)
  12. Circular saw

13. Jig saw

14. Reciprocating saw

15. Table saw

16.Chop saw

17. Utility knife

18. Hammer

19. Nail gun

20. Router

21. Belt sander

22. Orbit sander

23. Power drill

How Long Does it Take to Build Your Own Deck?

The third major difference is the time it takes to complete your project. With all their experience, contractors know the best way to get the job done in the shortest time possible.

If you do the project yourself, you will likely not be as efficient. Additionally, most people don’t have access to a crew of highly trained workers that have done this a hundred times before. If you make any mistakes, you risk having to go back and fix them. This can add a significant amount of time and money to your deck building project.

According to our Project Coordinator, Marena Siladi, it will take an Average Joe 3-4x as long as our crew to build a deck.  That’s not telling the full story though!  Our crews can build your deck while you’re at work, whereas you’ll be working on the weekends.  A job that our professional crew can do in 3-4 days might take you 2+ months of weekend work.  Do you want to spend the next 2 months of weekends building your own deck?  Yeah, me neither!

contractor cutting away old deck with a reciprocating saw
contractor measuring lines on a deck installation

Cost to Build Your Own Deck

The obvious reason for building your own deck is to save money. Without paying for labor and overhead, your initial costs will be much lower. However, you need to factor in a few more things. 

Your time isn’t free, and any time you spend working is time you could have spent doing something else. What if your initial cut list is off? You may need to buy more lumber than you initially thought you needed. Do you have all the tools necessary to complete the job? Factor in the additional cost of purchasing any tools you don’t already have. 

Lastly, you can’t be sure that your DIY project won’t need professional repairs. The most expensive part of building your own deck is having to tear it down and start over.

Hiring a decking contractor is going to cost more upfront than your initial DIY estimates; that much is true. However, a professional deck contractor will give you an accurate estimate that includes materials, labor, and anything else they may charge. In addition, almost all deck contractors offer a warranty. This means they will cover any errors on their end at no additional cost.

partially finished deck installation

In both cases, there are a lot of factors affecting your end cost. The region where you live will be a big one, along with the size of your deck. Not to mention the local cost of labor and material

Pros and cons

Building your own deck means you get to customize the experience every step of the way. If you have building experience, it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding project that adds a personal touch to your home. For those with a good deal of carpentry experience, DIY just might be the way to go.

If you want to build a new deck and aren’t sure if you have the experience necessary, then there’s your answer. If not for the time, money, and hassle, go with a contractor for safety. Construction requires a lot of training and skill, and if you aren’t experienced you’re putting yourself at serious risk of getting injured.

By going with a professional, you’re sure to end up with a high quality deck that you and your family will love. You avoid the risk and get straight to the reward, keeping money in your pocket and time in your day. 

If you’re ready to tackle your next project, fill out this contact form. One of our awesome decking experts will get in touch to help you get started on the deck of your dreams.

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