Even though the economy is slowly recovering, signs of a depression still linger. New mortgages are tough to come by thanks to stricter lending requirements; consumers have spent less during the holiday shopping season, and traditional big ticket items – new cars, family vacations – are few and far between.
But the one area where consumers have dug in their heels is small to medium-sized home renovations to make their residence more comfortable, appealing, and to ensure it retains market value over time. A simple way to achieve such goals is the addition of a new deck by the outdoor design and construction specialists at Toronto Custom Decks.
A stylish and functional deck can be a great addition to any home, but a key component is a high quality deck design that takes in all facets of the project, from layout and integrating it into the existing outdoor space to the type of wood to use to popular features and safety concerns for anyone using the deck – pets included. According to government studies, thousands of people are injured each year falling off decks due to broken railings, steps, and floor boards, making homeowners ultimately responsible for how well the deck has been constructed.
In Canada, each province has their own construction and safety requirements in regards to deck design and construction, but the larger Canada National Building Codes, Part 9, spells out what is and what isn’t required. At Toronto Custom Decks, we follow all applicable codes and regulations to ensure your new deck not only meets the letter of the law, but is also safe and accessible for anyone using it. Development and maintenance of the codes is the responsibility of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, an independent committee of volunteers established by the National Research Council of Canada. The codes were first developed in the 1940s and have been updated periodically, including most recently in 2011.
Major safety issues revolve around the construction and placement of railings around the perimeter of the deck and on steps or areas clearly designed for traversing one level to the next, whether going up to another deck level, or down to ground level. Proper deck design calls for handrails to be included where stairs are present, and where the stairs are more than 43 and 5/16 inches wide, and between 31 and a half and 37 and 63/64 inches tall for optimum use.
A professionally designed and built deck can enhance outdoor living space and be a wonderful addition to any home, but it should also be enjoyable to everyone regardless of physical or other disabilities. Safety and security should be of paramount concern, and should be a focal point of the project from initial design through construction and final approval. If the consumer has someone living in the residence with a disability and requires the use of a walker, cane, wheelchair, or other device to enhance mobility, the deck design must include a ramp for proper entrance or exit.
These standards are set by the Canadian government, as well as provincial governments. The government of Ontario, in conjunction with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2005, has established the following standards when building ramps:
- The ramp must have a maximum gradient of 1:12.
- The ramp must have a minimum width of 900 millimeters or 35.4 inches.
- For level landings – at the bottom of the ramp, or the area between one ramp and the next, or the top of the ramp – the landing must be 920 millimeters (36.2 inches) wide and 1500 millimeters (59 inches) long.
- There must be colour contrast strips at all level landings.
- The ramps must have edge protection.
In our experience as the Greater Toronto Area’s leading custom deck builder, we’ve seen firsthand numerous examples of homeowners who tried building their own decks, but ran into problems because they were inexperienced, didn’t have the proper materials or equipment, or ran afoul of construction codes they didn’t understand. These speak volumes about the benefits of working with a reputable contractor, but other reasons include:
- Years of industry experience, particularly with deck design and construction.
- Membership in professional organizations that allow the contractor to stay informed of new codes, building materials and techniques, and the latest trends in outdoor deck design.
- Reputable contractors are licensed and insured.
- All work includes a warranty on workmanship and building materials.
- Reputable contractors have numerous satisfied customers they can refer potential customers to for questions and answers.
One of the key questions many customers ask is: What features should the deck include? Each deck design is different, based on a customer’s goals, budget, and what they’re going to use the deck for. If they do a lot of entertaining and outdoor cooking, then an outdoor kitchen may be the way to go. Some homeowners like to relax after a hard day at work, and ask for a spot where a hot tub can be installed.
Here are the top deck design trends we’ve seen in recent years:
- Comfortable seating areas that bring the indoors into the backyard, including couches, end tables, and other furnishings.
- Outdoor kitchens, which can as simple as a barbecue grill with a propane tank or something more elaborate with a built in grill with counters, a sink, and refrigerator.
- Bigger decks. Many homeowners are choosing a deck design that spans the width of their home and includes multiple levels.
- Renewable building materials, including the use of plastic, glass, wood composites, and steel or iron.
- Outdoor theatre systems, including projection screens and high definition projectors, lighting, and stereo components.
A new deck is the perfect way to increase the value of a home, and better utilize existing space that may otherwise go unnoticed or unused. Toronto Custom Decks is committed to value and high quality work, and can find a deck plan that meets your needs and budget. Call us today at 647-878-8780 for more information.