Essential Budgeting Tips for Building a Deck

Consider these essential tips when building a deck so you can factor in all the budget concerns you need to be aware of before you start.

Decks are less expensive than many other home additions, and they come with a big bonus—they're so popular, they can make your home more marketable. Whether you're looking to add a new deck, or improve your existing design, the upgrade will provide the perfect spot for relaxing outdoors with friends and family. But first, you should know the average cost to build in today's market. This will help you to create an adequate remodeling budget, whether you plan to build the deck yourself, or find an experienced contractor for the job.

The national average cost for building a deck is about $12,600, according to the home improvement comparison site, Fixr. Costs range from $2,200 on the low end, and up to $35,000 on the high end. With lumber costs (and supply) in flux, planning ahead and considering all the contingencies can help save you money and time, whether you're building yourself or hiring a contractor. Here's a look at the average cost to build a deck, along with essential budgeting steps to take before you get going.

Tree House Deck Home Back Exterior
Bob Stefko

How much does it cost to build a deck?

For basic deck designs using the least expensive lumber, you can expect to pay from about $8 to $10 per square foot (depending on the material) if you do the work yourself. You'll pay about $30 per square foot if it's professionally installed.

When you consider that hiring out the job will perhaps double (or likely triple) your costs, a do-it-yourself deck can seem attractive. In fact, the economy of a DIY deck may allow for a larger design or higher-quality materials. These examples show you the DIY vs. contractor prices for a variety of sizes and styles.

  • 8x8-foot Raised Deck: Doing it yourself, you can build an 8x8-foot raised deck attached to your home, using treated lumber, for about $1,300 in materials. Changing the decking material to red cedar would raise the cost by approximately $700. Having a contractor build it for you raises the price from $3,200 to $4,800.
  • 12x16-foot Raised Deck: You could build a 12x16-foot treated-lumber raised deck with stairs, for about $3,100 in materials. Hiring someone to do the work for you brings your total cost from $3,700 to $9,500. For the same $3,700 you might spend on a professionally installed 12x16-foot deck, you could have one almost twice the size (18x20-foot) if you build it yourself.
  • 16x16-foot Raised Deck: You can buy composite materials for a 16x16-foot (256 square-foot) deck for about $5,600 to $9,800 if you build it yourself. A contractor would charge closer to $7,800 to $15,700 to construct a deck of this size.

Actual prices in your area may vary. Any extra features, such as shade structures, built-in benches, or planters, require additional materials and add to the cost per square foot. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, or you simply don't have the time to devote to building yourself, concentrate on designing the deck you want, then finding a builder who can work within your budget.

How to Hire a Contractor

Choosing the right contractor is an important first step in the planning process. You should get at least three written estimates from contractors. Choosing a local contractor is best, because they're easier to contact should problems arise in the future, and they're more likely to be familiar with the building codes in your area. Check their references and examples of their past work to be confidant they'll provide quality workmanship and customer service. Finally, check whether the contractor is insured and bonded—ask for a certificate of insurance. You can contact the insurance company directly to verify the coverage and confirm that the policy is still in effect.

How to Add Value to Your Home

When you're planning your deck, balance its cost with the added value it brings to your home. It can not only provide additional living space, it can increase your home's value.

Your Home's Resale Value

According to Remodeling magazine's 2022 Cost vs. Value report, on average, a homeowner can recoup around 62 percent of the cost of a composite deck, or almost 65 percent of the cost of a wood deck. Why? Because home buyers are willing to pay top dollar to own a deck. According to the National Association of Realtors' 2018 Remodeling Impact Report, a new wood deck ranks fifth among the top 13 outdoor features that appeal to homebuyers.

Increase Your Happiness

The same study also reports that homeowners experience increased happiness once their new deck is built. After completing the project, 81 percent said they had a greater desire to be home, 74 percent had an increased sense of enjoyment at home, and 77 percent experienced a major sense of accomplishment.

Prepare for a Possible Tax Increase

When considering your costs, you should factor in a possible increase to your property tax. According to IRS guidelines, if you make an improvement that adds value to your home (like a deck), it will increase the amount of property taxes you owe. The actual amount of the increase depends, of course, on where you live and the value of the deck. But when planning your new deck, check with your local tax assessor's office to prevent a surprise.

Plan for Added Insurance Costs

Before construction begins, contact your insurance agent to check that your deck is covered by your homeowners' insurance. After it's completed, and you have a certificate of occupancy, let your insurance provider know how much the new deck cost to build so that additional coverage can be added to your insurance policy.

Deck with wooden floor and marble table
Edmund Barr

How to Finance a Deck

Now that you know the costs involved, how will you finance it? While you might be inclined to use your credit card, or tap into your savings, both of which feel familiar, a personal loan might be an easier and more affordable way to fund the project. Choose a lender who'll work with you, listen to your situation, and do what's right for you, both now and down the road. Consider a fixed rate and flexible repayment terms to allow for planning your finances. Know how long it will take to pay off your loan. You can preview your rate and monthly payment without impacting your credit score.

Plan for the Unexpected

When planning the expenses for the project, don't forget to include a contingency fund in your total budget. You might need more than your original estimate to cover unexpected costs. Some personal loan products make the loan process extremely easy, with little collateral required.

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