Category Archives: Deck Construction

Best Decks in Westchester, New York and Fairfiled Connecticut

Best Decks in Westchester and Fairfield County

Permits slow the start, get someone who knows what they are doing!

All over the country regulations are getting stricter and stricter.  Who knew you needed a permit for a deck, much less a deck you are replacing exactly as is!  Well you do, and regardless of what you have, that may not be allowed anymore.

To begin with, it may not have had a permit to start, so right there you are stopped dead in the water.

Secondly, new regulations, such as FEMA, Stormwater management, Greenspace, Lot coverage, Wetlands, etc. makes it semi-impossible to figure out what one can do.  We here at Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties pride ourselves on our indepth knowledge of town requirements.  We are constantly reading the new regulations for every town. 

 When we design your deck, if we are unaware of your Towns requirements, we contact the town to determine what your setbacks are, and what is needed to aquare a permit..  But we never let them know your address…..just the area.

We have always been very aware of the individual locales requirements.  Several years ago the Town of Greenwich, CT instituted a “Storm water Management” manual.  This manual stated that any increase in lot coverage required an Engineer to be involved.  This mandate requirement reflected an additional $2,000.00 – $4,000.00 cost on top of the cost of the deck.

Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties worked hard, researched, and submitted a request to amend this aspect of the manual to not include decks.  It was our determination that decks are pervious, not impervious, and therefore should not count.

The Town of Greenwich accepted our modification  and amended the manual, provided decks will be built to certain specifications, ie decking boards be space 3/16”, which of course, is what we do.  They also require gravel under the deck for drainage.  This is helpful to you the homeowner also, as it keeps the water away from the foundation.

 Service is our number one goal.  Companies that do not recognize service do not stay in business for over 25 years, as we have.  We do what it takes to keep you the homeowner, informed and aware of what you can build, how it can be built, and what it will cost.  Our number one objective is to meet your objectives, needs, and make sure you have “no buyers remorse”.  This is why over 50% of our business comes from homeowner referrals.

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Maintain your Decks: Dogs “Peeing” on decks because of Snow!

Too Much Snow?

 Maintain your Deck and avoid problems of having your pets “pee” on them!  The old adage “Don’t eat yellow snow” should be don’t leave yellow snow on your deck!

The snow keeps falling, your deck and outdoor living space keeps piling up high with snow.  No where for your pets to go. What to do?  Shovel it!  Take the snow off your patio to prevent uplift of the stones.  If they were not installed properly, the freezing of the ground will cause an uplift of the stones.

When this happens, and you shovel it, the shovel will get bent due to the upheaval of the flagstone.  If you have a metal tip/lip to your shovel, it will get bent and scratch the next surface it hits…..which will probably be your deck!  Do not use that shovel on your deck, furniture, car, etc. it will cause scratches that cannot be repaired entirely.  If your deck is wood, they can be sanded, but if your deck is vinyl or composite the only way to repair those scratches is to replace the board.

The best solution, do not use metal on your deck.

We live in the Northeast too.  We’ve removed all the snow from our rails, tables, chairs, decks and barbeque.  This helps all of these items prepare for the next snow.

It also helps our dogs understand that it is still a deck, patio, and furniture.  Dog “pee” in snow doesn’t seem that bad.  It was always a joke as a kid, “Don’t eat yellow snow”, but when the snow melts, it all soaks into the deck or patio, leaving an odor that animals can detect.  All of a sudden, in the middle of summer you see your fine, loved pet, sniffing and using that same area as a “spot” to relieve themselves.

Avoid this anguish by shoveling your deck clean of snow so those “little ones” understand the path to their destination.

Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s a fact of pets!  Take care of your deck like you would your wood floors in your house.  You would never throw dirt all over you living room floor,  don’t leave snow on your deck….same ending

The Best Shovel for your Deck

The Best Shovel for your Deck

Do you ever notice scratches on your deck in the spring? The most common cause is the use of metal shovels, or plastic shovels with a metal strip/trip to remove snow.  I apologize if I sound repetitive, as I have posted this before, but DO NOT USE METAL on your decks!!!

The best shovel is a plastic shovel with no metal on it.

Is your deck made of  composite/vinyl decking, like Fiberon, TimberTech, Azek, Gossin, or one of the many other composite/vinyl products on the market?  Or perhaps red cedar, pressure treated, Garapa, or Ipe?  They will all scratch when scraped with metal.

Your local hardware store, Home Depot, or where ever you purchase your snow shovels, sells all plastic shovels and they are usually less expensive then their metal counterparts.  Specifically look at the section that touches the deck.  Many plastic shovels will have a metal strip/tip on the bottom (the part of the shovel that touches the deck) for breaking ice.  These shovels are not acceptable.  Buy the shovel without the strip.

ImageImageMany of you may say, “Why would I shovel my deck?”  Although I cannot comment on decks built by other companies, I can comment on decks built by Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties. www.ctdeck.com, and this is what we believe.

Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties builds all their decks to a design load of 60 pounds per square foot. The design load is for “live load” which includes people, furniture, barbeques, heaters, and yes, snow. A 10 x 10 area, evenly loaded, should hold approx. 6,000 pounds. That’s a lot of friends, furniture, and/or a lot of snow.  If we have built an outdoor kitchen, fire place or spa,  your deck is engineered for those items in addition to people, furniture and snow.

 

The weight of snow is not exact, as all snow is different.  But in general terms a cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds. Light fluffy snow has less water than wet heavy snow and Ice is almost 100% water with air. Light, fluffy snow weighs approximately 12 pounds per cubic foot, where wet heavy snow is closer to 21 pounds per cubic foot.  Ice is the heaviest and is assumed to weigh approximately 62.5 pounds per cubic foot.

 

A deck built by Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties should accommodate 5 of light fluffy snow, 3 of wetter heavy snow or 1 of ice.

 

So what do all these numbers mean?  They are approximates and should not be challenged.  Snow can act as an insulator and may seem fluffy on top, but ice or wet, heavy snow could lie underneath.  Shoveling your deck helps avoid pushing limits or challenging any of these approximate numbers. Furniture and barbeques have weight of their own, additional weight is added when snow piles up.  It’s best to clean the snow off these items too, both for their preservation in addition to the extra weight the snow is creating.  Removing snow also keeps snow away from your doorways and sidewalls of the house where damage could occur with melting, freezing and new snowfall.

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Lastly, for all you pet owners, shoveling snow can prevent your animals (especially those little ones) from believing your deck is now the ground….need I say more.

 

For those of you who do not yet have a deck, or, would like to replace one, it is never too early to start planning for Spring.

 

Permits for your Outdoor Living Space

February 1, 2014….Seems a little early to start thinking about Spring planning, right?  Wrong!  Now is the best time to start planning.  Permitting in Southern Fairfield, CT and Westchester County, NY can be a time consuming process.  In order to have your outdoor living space built to enjoy this spring, now is the time to start.

Archadeck will sit down with you and discuss your objectives and work with you to find a solution to your dream yard.  Surveys are a necessity in this day.  In order to design an outdoorliving space you desire and one that can be built, we must first look at your survey to determine what you locale will allow.

Setbacks, wetlands and septic systems all play a role in what and where you can build.  Town requirements are constantly changing.  Design your outdoor living space to conform to your town requirements.  There is nothing worse than falling in love with a design and then finding out the town will not allow it to be built.
Surveying companies get very busy in the spring.  If you wait too long, you may not even be able to get a survey for a month or two.  Towns like Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield and Norwalk have a fairly quick permit turn around time provided the appropriate paper work is in place (updated survey, green space coverage, storm water management information, etc.)  Other towns like Darien, White Plains, Mamaroneck and Westport typically take at least two to three weeks if not longer after the initial paperwork is filed.

Now is the time to start planning.

A Deck Collapse, Winter of 2011

On January 24, 2010 I posted an entry entitle, “Three Reasons a Deck Can Fail.  These three reasons stated were, Rot, Lack of or inadequate flashing and connectors, particularly those used at the house. In this post I said that the great majority of deck collapses happen at the house not on the outside edge. So here is an example of exactly that occurrance.

Today I was called out to this deck pictured, with a request for an insurance estimate. This winter, there has been a tremendous amount of snow, whose weight, has pushed all of our structures past limits they have previously experienced. Engineering for dwellings and structures is typically done for the worst conditions not the average, however, too often, assumptions are made based on the average conditions and that “which has worked before”.

This collapse supports my findings or three common reasons for failure. These are not the only reasons, just the most common. This deck is approximately 25-30 years old. It was attached to the house without flashing, directly over the house siding, with nails only. My Jan 24 post explains how we do it. The siding has rotted as has the interior sill plates and box beam. This is because no flashing was installed to prevent the rot from occurring. The nails used to fasten the band board to the house has lost their withdrawl strength due to soft and crumbling  wood. Add the weight of the snow and initiate the failure. The snow is not the reason the deck failed, it only exposed this deck’s inadequate installation. It was not enough snow to bring down a well built deck, just this one. In all fairness, our industry has grown and learned a tremendous amount in the last thirty years. History is a great educator.       

Westchester Deck and Patio

We were resently asked to build a new deck over a new lower patio. The homeowners desired a nicely finishedDeck because they would be spending the majority of their outdoor entertaining on the Patio, therefore, viewing the underside and back of the deck.

The deck floor is Trex Transcends, the Treehouse color (www.trex.com), the railing is white Timebertech Radiance rail (www.Timbertech.com), the columns and deck face are wrapped with the Azek PVC white board ( www.azek.com) and the lattice is the fantastic Durashell Permalatt vinyl lattice (www.Permalatt.com)  This lattice is truly no maintenance other than occassional cleaning.  A lattice door was constructed for access under the existing screen porch, creating an area for reasonably dry space.

The railings on the Stone wall were mounted with steel pipes driven into the heart of 4×4 posts then the pipes are cemented into the cored walls. This is one of few proper ways to mount railing or fences on stone walls or concrete stoops etc. These rails are very strong.

Before and after pictures are always fun, so here they are:

 

Building Permits and your Construction Schedule

Adding a deck or porch  to your home is an addition that requires a building permit. Often times homeowners think that because it is a replacement of a previous deck or an unheated project, a permit may not be required. That is not the case. The permit process helps insure that current building codes and current health and zoning ordinances are recognized and followed.

The permit task is a service we provide for our homeowners. Construction drawings must be prepared. In Westchester County, these drawings must be redrawn and stamped by a lisences Structural Engineer or Architect, Site Plans drawn, property Survey’s updated and a definitive process followed. New York and Connecticut look at property lines, Inland Wetlands, or Coastal Area Management, proximities to Septic Tanks and/or drainage from roof run off and displaced natural buffers.

What does this mean to the Homeowners? Time. The 30+ different Towns in Connecticut and New York inwhich we have built, the process has taken from one week to four months. Every town is different and has their own process. Most of the codes and ordinances are the same or similar, but the Permit process is specific to each Town.

It is not unusual for a family to be dissappointed with their construction start, if the permit process is unanticipated. It is never too soon to plan your deck and hire your contractor. Many years ago, one could call in April and have their deck completed in May. This no longer is typical. In a few towns in Connecticut this can still happen , but only a few. In  Westchester County, New York this will not happen. It is difficult to start plnning and become excited about a deck, when there is snow on the ground. Nevertheless, January and February are the months that get your construction starts in March or April and so forth. So if you would like your deck built in the Spring, start your planning early.  The earlier the better.