Building a compact structure such as a deck may seem like a good project for the beginning DIY home renovator, but it's something best left to professional deck builders. While the structures don't ramble around the yard and are relatively small compared to the rest of the house, they require a lot of details that are easy to forget during the planning stage.
Snow, Pets, Spring Cleaning, and That PSF Requirement
Each part of the deck has to be able to support a particular amount of weight, something called the load in pounds per square foot. There are live loads, which include the weight of people, plants, pets, furniture, and anything movable, and dead loads, which include anything permanently installed, including parts of the deck (remember that the base of the deck structure has to support the top of the deck structure, so all that weight is added up and included in the pounds per square foot value). As you calculate what the live load for your deck might be, keep in mind that snow in winter will add weight, as will new animals like pets or backyard critters, and any new furniture you buy as part of spring cleaning and renovating. All of that has to be able to sit on the deck without causing problems for the supports.
The deck's going in your backyard where no one can really see it but you, but if you live in an HOA-controlled neighborhood, you need permission from the HOA to build any structure; remember, these are the councils that go after people for painting backyard playsets the wrong colors. You don't want to forget to get the HOA's permission to build that deck in writing.
Decks have a lot of joists and supports to keep the top surface steady, but another feature you can, and should, add is blocking. This is a technique where you install additional pieces of wood between and perpendicular to the joists. The pieces are added in a staggered pattern, and they act as extra supports to stop the top layer of the deck from being so prone to bouncing. Without the blocking, the planks on the top of the deck can have more give and create more vibration as people walk. The blocking basically acts like a bunch of smaller cross beams.
This is not a complete list by any means, so what's the best way to ensure you don't forget other issues that could disrupt your deck plans? Have a deck builder do the job. Yes, the DIY deck always seems like a nice accomplishment to have under your toolbelt, but arranging for a professional building company to construct the deck is a lot safer. You'll get warranties as well as a deck that is built to all appropriate codes.
To learn more, contact a residential deck builder in your area.