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Help me choose my deck and harscaping

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO

Help me choose my deck and harscaping

Hi all,
Looking to have a large deck 16x18 or even bigger built over a walkout basement.

I had a local contractor come by i the weekend and have a couple more in the coming weeks to give me quotes.

I live in a semi built in 2009, in Ajax.
Currently there is a builders deck with a long set of stairs going down.
My wife and I finally have the finances to get this project going as well as other upgrades to the house (basement, floors, washrooms etc)

That being said aside from the large upper level deck we’re looking to get some interlock done at the front (shoulder @ planters). As well as the side of the house which includes steps.

What I’m stuck on currently is to either go with Interlocking below the large deck. But having gone through my neighbours listings in the past decade or so via house sigma. One of our neighbours did a lower (I assume floating) deck under the upper deck.

I personally love the lower deck option (see pics)
What is the price difference between interlock(leaning towards unilock) vs pt deck?
The first company that came in on Sunday will be giving me quotes in the next day or two.
But hopefully some of you fellow rfd’ers can give me an idea.
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25 replies
Deal Fanatic
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Oct 13, 2008
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Personal preference. Go with what you want and NOT what others want.

It your house ... so you want to enjoy it your way ... NOT living in a place and designing it for others because others like it differently.
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Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5241 posts
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Toronto
I'd do that lower deck if it's me. However more wood deck means more maintenance, if you want to keep it looking good. But still much prefer look of wood deck than concrete pavers. Personal preference really.
Deal Addict
Jan 11, 2007
3446 posts
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Mississauga
I used Trex and do not regret it as i am not big on maintenance of the wood. its more expensive in the short term and some folks like the natural wood look, I personally love the way it looks even though its obviously not wood (mine is a rope color) I didnt go crazy but my level is MUCH lower then yours and I simply redid the same deck the original one was before but new. (and added lights/glass)

Note: with those images you shared using Trex to accomplish that will be a small fortune :)
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[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO
boyohboy wrote: I'd do that lower deck if it's me. However more wood deck means more maintenance, if you want to keep it looking good. But still much prefer look of wood deck than concrete pavers. Personal preference really.
Yeah. Most backyards I’ve seen with pavers and it’s meh. Usually colder and unappealing. Maintenance would definitely be a concern considering we’re looking at upper and lower.
dreaderus wrote: I used Trex and do not regret it as i am not big on maintenance of the wood. its more expensive in the short term and some folks like the natural wood look, I personally love the way it looks even though its obviously not wood (mine is a rope color) I didnt go crazy but my level is MUCH lower then yours and I simply redid the same deck the original one was before but new. (and added lights/glass)

Note: with those images you shared using Trex to accomplish that will be a small fortune :)
Yeah, trex is an option. But considering the amount of sq ft of both (if we do lower) would definitely be a small fortune. The other concern is the amount of heat it doesn’t reflect. We have a dog and a 4yr old. Don’t want to deal with burnt feet/paws. But I feel it makes a deck look high end and clean.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5241 posts
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Toronto
akswun wrote: Yeah. Most backyards I’ve seen with pavers and it’s meh. Usually colder and unappealing. Maintenance would definitely be a concern considering we’re looking at upper and lower.

Def look to stain with good stain, if it's me :). Starting when the deck is still in good new condition (i.e. doesn't require too much prep) and keep it that way would be easier.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO
Ok, so finally got a quote from a referral. Chinese gentleman. Aside from landscaping and deck we're looking to get our basement done. Ideally we would like our contractor to do the whole shebang but understand that some contractors aren't down with the whole gamut.

That being said this contractor quoted me labour for the deck. He said that materials for decks fluctuates in price everday. Be it PT or composite.
So this morning he message me, $8000 for labour for the deck(s): Upper deck (18'x16' with staircase) and ground level deck (24'x16'). If we want composite (leaning towards Trex 'better') add another $2000 for labour.

My wife are really leaning towards trex to future proof our deck. IMO, would look so much better.

Any of you deck guys have any opinions on the quote?

Another contractor who actually came by before this contractor hasn't gotten back to me with a quote yet. So we will see.
Deal Guru
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Sep 1, 2005
13870 posts
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Markham
I hate having to say this but if finances/budget are an issue you really are better off waiting as cost of materials are double normal and getting the items is also a challenge. IIRC correctly, I saw a news story recently where a contractor priced a job $35k (pre-covid) for a deck and repriced it at $50k due to material cost increase.

For deck... You might as well look at composite as pricing is marginally more vs pressure treated right now. Also watch for air nailing boards vs screwed in.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
[OP]
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Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
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TORONTO
gr8dlr wrote: I hate having to say this but if finances/budget are an issue you really are better off waiting as cost of materials are double normal and getting the items is also a challenge. IIRC correctly, I saw a news story recently where a contractor priced a job $35k (pre-covid) for a deck and repriced it at $50k due to material cost increase.

For deck... You might as well look at composite as pricing is marginally more vs pressure treated right now. Also watch for air nailing boards vs screwed in.
Yeah, I totally agree with you that prices are crazy right now. I'm sure prices settle down later in the season. But like with anything home related, you can't really predict what the market is going to look like 6 months down the road. Maybe things will settle when the pandemic eases up. But when will that be?

Anyway, we have a very healthy budget. Any excess from our budget is going to our investment portfolio.

We're willing to pay to get the job done and done right.

That being said, Trying to price out materials for Trex, PT(sub structure), railings, stairs etc... is a real eye opener. Currently have sub structured (PT), trex deck boards, & facia in carts between home depot and lowes and hovering around $13000. That doesn't include about 25 feet of railing and all the hardware to put it together.

If anyone out there has a place to purchase trex other than big box, please let me know.
[OP]
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Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
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TORONTO
Newmomtotwins wrote: Hahaha - I need to collect :)

Hope it works out - My friends deck looks amazing and they are really happy with their experience - we are waiting to contact them next year as we still have some years left on our deck.

Keep us posted.
Well that was a very informative quote from Richard.
He went over structure after giving him the size I wanted. He made a lot of sense in terms of how many piers we should have. Whether or not we should do flush joists.
Where the stairs would be and how many steps.

They mainly sell PVC, said something about Wolf PVC.
So to outline
17x16 upper deck
17x24 lower deck
Stairs 11 Treads
800sqft
Railings Aluminum with glass

$55/ sqft

He said 41-50K depending on the finishings.

WOW!

Things he mentioned were that the posts on the lower deck will be covered with pvc.
Lower deck would be fixed on piers and not deck blocks.
And he said that if we had a deal done that he could have it finished at the end of May.

As for permits and such... lol. He said out of a hundreds of deck jobs going on right now, 2 have permits.
Been a common sentiment from the 4 contractors I've talked to so far.

That being said, as expensive as his quote was, it really gave me some insight on how it should be built structurally. Richard was really nice and frank about everything. Said he's worked on a few jobs in the area. Tribute and sundial here in Ajax by Rossland and Audley.
Which I'm kind of familiar with as a friend owns a house in that area. From what I gather, Tribute and Sundial aren't the greatest builders.
He was able to give me a decent plan for the structure which I appreciated the most.

On to the next quote in a week!
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2004
4868 posts
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Wat
akswun wrote:

As for permits and such... lol. He said out of a hundreds of deck jobs going on right now, 2 have permits.
Been a common sentiment from the 4 contractors I've talked to so far.
With a high deck like you have I don't think skipping the permit is a good idea.
[OP]
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Nov 7, 2012
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TORONTO
Wiseman wrote: With a high deck like you have I don't think skipping the permit is a good idea.
Trust me, I want permits.
I want this done right.

But if the $50K contractor is giving me the "don't worry about it" spiel as well as the older contractors that I've talked too... I'm guessing this is industry wide.
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2004
4868 posts
1409 upvotes
Wat
akswun wrote: Trust me, I want permits.
I want this done right.

But if the $50K contractor is giving me the "don't worry about it" spiel as well as the older contractors that I've talked too... I'm guessing this is industry wide.
They're just saying that because they don't want to go through the hassle.
If it was my deck, I'd insist on the permit. It only takes one complaint and the city will force you to dismantle it.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO
Wiseman wrote: They're just saying that because they don't want to go through the hassle.
If it was my deck, I'd insist on the permit. It only takes one complaint and the city will force you to dismantle it.
100%.... I think the other common question is whether or not I am cool with my neighbours. Which I am. lol
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5241 posts
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Toronto
akswun wrote: 100%.... I think the other common question is whether or not I am cool with my neighbours. Which I am. lol
You can be cool with neighbours, but mainly if the neighbours will be cool with your big new deck... may be they dislike it, or may be like it too much and getting jelly..
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO
boyohboy wrote: You can be cool with neighbours, but mainly if the neighbours will be cool with your big new deck... may be they dislike it, or may be like it too much and getting jelly..
lol... definitely a possibility. #BigDeckEnvy
Newbie
Nov 13, 2003
86 posts
5 upvotes
Edmonton
akswun wrote: They mainly sell PVC, said something about Wolf PVC.
I chose Wolf PVC for my deck and I'm really happy with it. I've only gone barefoot on it once but it was a pretty hot summer day and there were no complaints from others, and it was marketed to me as having cooler temperatures than composite. Noticeably grippier than the composites that were in the store. Good stuff.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
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TORONTO
Aridyme wrote: I chose Wolf PVC for my deck and I'm really happy with it. I've only gone barefoot on it once but it was a pretty hot summer day and there were no complaints from others, and it was marketed to me as having cooler temperatures than composite. Noticeably grippier than the composites that were in the store. Good stuff.
That's good to know. I'm leaning on composite for now. PVC is an option but much more costly.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
3646 posts
1189 upvotes
Edmonton
akswun wrote: That's good to know. I'm leaning on composite for now. PVC is an option but much more costly.
I can see that money is a big issue for you.
How about paying for full plans and then getting the permit and doing it yourself?
A deck is really quite basic, even the two tiered one. It's quite basic and simple. Sure it is alot of work especially if you are very picky and want it perfect, but in the end you will be able to save a ton of money some of which can go towards a better material.

I do like the look of the picture you posted, and would definitely use piers.
Use the cardboard piers where you pour concrete and I would use ready rod for anchors, metal plate and then wood on top bolted. Get it deep enough to be below your frost line and your good for life

Also use SS or galvanized rod
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Oct 19, 2008
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akswun wrote: Trust me, I want permits.
I want this done right.

But if the $50K contractor is giving me the "don't worry about it" spiel as well as the older contractors that I've talked too... I'm guessing this is industry wide.
How much are you saving by skipping the permit vs the risk....its really not worth it. Even if you game the system a bit, submit permit plans as though you are building the deck yourself (more lax on drawings) the permit process really protects the homeowner. You can be sure the building code is followed, the plans examiner and on site building inspector will ensure of that.
Don't think you can just get a permit later if the building department shows up because a neighbour complains. Sure the contractor might build the deck correctly, everything visible is good/setbacks bylaws followed. What of the post holes?.....contractor should not pour cement until the inspector visits and measures each holes depth....one Whitby inspector checks every hole at 3 locations, won't sign off if it rained and there's mud in the holes etc. Ajax will have you dig beside each hole to show its at least 48" deep, or pour new posts. I saw Ajax building department have an unpermitted completed basement washroom demo'd because plumbing inspector didn't ok pipes below slab.
Get the permit, its about $200.

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