September 28, 2022

Description of Job
• Consult with clients about design and materials for decks, and prepare
detailed plans and a price quote.
• Obtain all necessary permits for construction.
• Purchase materials and build decks.
• Arrange for any necessary inspections after completion and confirm
recording of approvals.
The Need
In days gone by, nearly every house had a large front porch where families would
sit after dinner and exchange small talk with neighbors and passersby. With the
advent of suburbs, the front porch moved to the backyard and became a comfortable wooden deck.
In many parts of the country there is a strong market for new or expanded decks. Construction of a ground-level or slightly raised deck is a relatively simple construction project.
Stay close to the ground, at least at the start of this business. Building a secondstory or higher deck requires advanced design and the use of lengthy load-bearing
girders, beams, or supports, which will greatly increase your exposure to liability
In many localities you will need to obtain a building permit before construction and seek approval from an inspector afterward. You may also have to conform to local regulations about size and design of structures.
The most difficult jobs involve work on soft or sloping ground. You’ll also have
to deal with extremes of temperature and environment in some parts of the country.

Know the Territory
Learn the basics of deck construction from available books, web sites, and plans.
Among important concepts: proper installation of concrete footings or foundations; specification and use of pressure-treated lumber; and proper protection
against rot, splitting, and insect infestation.
You’ll need to prepare a plan for construction so you can show the design to
your customers, seek building permits, and order materials. Pressure-treated and
manufactured deck boards come in standard lengths and widths that should be
adaptable to most jobs; the simplest and least expensive jobs are built using readily available dimensions.
Advanced designs add railings, benches, and other wooden features. You
may also be called on to integrate lighting and electrical outlets into the deck; in
most localities you’ll need to work with a licensed electrician for such features.
If the plans call for creation of a new exit from the home to the deck, you may
want to partner with an experienced contractor or carpenter for that part of the job.

How to Get Started
Place flyers and ads in community centers and home supply stores. Place ads in
newspapers and shopping guides.
Make your services known to existing contractors who may refer small jobs
to you; you can offer them a commission. Ask satisfied customers to recommend
you to friends and acquaintances; offer a bonus or discount for business they
bring to you.

Offer to teach a class about small construction projects at a community
school; this may yield some publicity and clients.

Up-front Expenses
You’ll need commercial-grade tools, including a circular saw, power drill, hammer, levels, safety goggles, and mask. For construction of concrete footings or
foundations, you’ll need a wheelbarrow and hoses for making concrete.
Building supply companies should be able to deliver lumber to your construction site; you will need a station wagon or small truck to haul your equipment to and from jobs.

How Much to Charge
You should quote a price for the job that includes your time plus the cost of lumber and hardware, including connectors, nails, and screws. Base your price on
your cost—if the customer asks for special lumber or other features you need to
take that into account.
Your price should include amortization of tools and your vehicle, plus a portion of the cost of insurance.

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