Deck and Patio Blog

3 Limitations That May Affect the Look of Your New Deck

September 15, 2015

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When you think about adding a deck to your home, your imagination probably starts running wild. So many options! So many colors and materials to choose from! But before you start sketching up designs and working with your Maryland deck contractor to draw the plans, consider these limitations you may encounter. They may not be of big significance to you, but it’s worth knowing what to expect as you get closer to the construction stage.

Zoning Requirements

One of the first things you would need to do before starting deck construction is to apply for a zoning review of your proposed deck plans. Your home is located in one of several zoning districts established in your county. The purpose of zoning is to control the use of land and prevent such things as a night club opening on a quiet residential street. Depending on your specific zoning district, there are certain regulations you may need to follow in order to build a compliant deck.

Zoning typically regulates things like height, location and intended use of the structures built on your property. When it comes to decks, the major zoning factor you need to worry about is setbacks (or minimal yard requirements). Essentially, this has to do with how close your deck is to your property line. The idea behind setbacks is to make sure your deck is not too close to your neighbors, as well as that you have enough lawn left to keep your lot green. As a result, you may be forced to downsize your deck, especially if you have a small lot.

Don’t skip the zoning review when building a deck! A single complaint from a concerned neighbor may lead to having to tear down a finished deck.

Building Codes

Once you have a zoning approval, it’s time to apply for building permits. As Maryland deck builders, we typically take care of this on behalf of our clients to save you time. During this process, we submit applications to your county’s Department of Permitting and Inspections to have the deck plans reviewed and approved. Not all decks require a permit. Typically, decks that are less than 30 inches above grade can be built without one.

The building codes that apply to decks regulate numerous aspects of how a deck should be built. For example, they address things like handrail height, span of stringers, gaps between balusters, depth of footings, etc. These regulations may somewhat limit your deck design, but at the end of the day remember that they are in place to ensure your safety.

After the deck is built, an inspection follows to check whether the structure is in compliance with the building code and is constructed in accordance with the original plans. Never attempt to build a deck without permits or listen to a contractor who says you don’t need any. A deck built without permits won’t provide any return on investment and will add a headache when selling the house.

HOA Bylaws

These types of limitations may vary widely and apply only if you live in a Homeowners Association community. Each HOA has its own set of bylaws that govern, among other things, the appearance of your home and any additions you make to it. These bylaws may restrict the size of your deck, the type of materials or the colors you are allowed to use. Run your deck plans by the HOA before doing anything, as they may strike down your elaborate designs.

As you can see, there is a lot of planning that goes into building a deck that follows all the codes, rules and regulations. If you need an experienced Maryland deck contractor by your side, look no further than North American Deck and Patio. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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