Decks: should I build larger, or better quality?


Dear David,

Our house is ten years old. The small back deck looks like an original builder’s model. It’s been adequate so far, but will need to be replaced in the near future. I would like to build a bigger deck, while my husband thinks we should keep it the same footprint but upgrade from wood to composite. Which of these will offer a better return on investment when it comes time to sell? – PATIO PERFECT

DEAR PATIO: When it comes to decks, everyone has a different opinion. I know this to be true because I show hundreds of houses a year, and see every conceivable variation from the humble homemade porch, to the Taj Mahal of backyard entertaining.

When it comes to replacing an existing deck, clients often ask me if they should go bigger. My answer is almost always “yes”. One popular school of thought suggests that a well-proportioned deck should span about twenty percent of the overall footprint of the home in terms of square footage. While I prefer to err on the larger side, builders have a tendency of going smaller, so they can list the deck as an “included feature” of the home. 

As with most things real estate-related, I suggest you do some research and perhaps get a designer involved. As a baseline, every deck should have a barbeque area and a natural gas line if possible, which avoids the hassle of half-cooked chicken when your propane tank runs out on a Sunday evening. If your ultimate goal is to add value to the home, it’s worth exploring the innovative trends that have gained popularity in recent years. Installing clear glass panels instead of standard balusters can improve your backyard view and expand your sense of space. Solar-powered lighting can create terrific nighttime ambiance without needing an electrician or available circuit in your electrical box. Even outdoor furniture options have improved by leaps and bounds. Comfy conversation sets made of weather-resistant materials can transform your backyard experience, especially when combined with a fire table or shade arbour. Best of all, because it’s outside, a deck construction project tends to be much less disruptive than a kitchen or bathroom renovation.

Price is a primary consideration, of course. Many homeowners backed away from deck renovations during the pandemic when lumber prices went through the roof. With today’s prices returning to normal (at least in terms of lumber), it may be time to re-visit the options. You can work your budget in a number of different ways. Building a bigger deck increases the useable square footage of your home, which is always a great investment. When it comes to materials, man-made composite has a much longer lifespan than wood and needs very little maintenance, but is also a lot more expensive.

PRO TIP: When hanging out in the backyard, most people want to be on a solid surface. When deciding what that looks like, assign your options a “joy score”. If a tripped-out deck with a screened pergola or natural gas fire pit will be well used and possibly entice future buyers, it may be worth the investment for your family. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator 

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.