Planning a Deck – Pre-Planning Advice

Visualise Your Deck

Although planning a deck is a fairly simple exercise, it's sometimes difficult to visualise what it will actually look like at the back of your house. Therefore, before you begin, take a good walk around your property and identify where you think you want the decking to go.

For ground level and partially evaluated decks, the joist of the subframe should be laid on a free draining area of compacted hardcore (or similar) not straight onto earth or areas of lawn. Subframes that are laid in direct contact with earth are at increased risk of fungal decay and subsistence.

Work out who will use the deck and for what purpose. This will help you decide upon decking designs including the size and shape of the deck, and what furniture will be needed. If space is restricted you might think about building-in benches and storage planters.

To help you visualise what your deck will look like it's sometimes helpful to create a full size outline of the deck where you want to build it. Use whatever you may have to hand and map it out in the garden, leaving it in place to see if you're happy with it and see whether it's right for the garden taking into account factors such as the position of the afternoon sun, normal wind direction and level of privacy. Later, when you're happy, draw a plan of the deck layout, measure out the size and shape of the deck, and map its location to the house.

Consider Existing Features in Your Decking Plan

If you have trees or other established features, which you want to retain, these can become the focal point and the deck can be designed around them. Make sure that you allow access to the decking from existing doors and steps, and tie in the deck to any existing walkways that you may wish to retain.

If your deck design means your deck will cover a manhole or other services to your home, ensure that you design a removeable panel into the deck surface to give easy access in the future.

Consider Decking Planning Permission

Timber decks differ from conventional patios and terraces most significantly in their elevation and general height of construction. For all but the simplest, patio style/ground level garden deck, property owners should satisfy themselves that planning regulations do not apply to their proposed structure. In addition to contacting the Local Authority, we strongly recommend that you talk to all your neighbours about your plans. Neighbour objections are the most usual reason for planning refusal or enforcement notices after completion.

Local Authorities can insist that structures are dismantled and removed where consent should have been obtained, but was not. Deck structures are often considered to be exempt from planning regulations, but this is not always the case. There are a number of specific instances where consent is required prior to building a patio, terrace or deck as shown below.

Situations Requiring Planning Permission

Consider Decking Building Regulations

Building Regulations (ie the involvement of building control) should be assumed to apply to every deck structure requiring planning permission.

Consider the Need for Balustrades

Balustrades (or parapets) on decks can serve several functions, ranging from simple decorative boundaries to full safety barriers. Even a small change of level can be a hazard, particularly for elderly or infirm users. Unless the deck surface is flush with the surrounding ground level, a parapet or edge protection detail should be incorporated. For very low-level structures, this may take the form of a simple decorative rail, a lattice panel or a raised planter.

The height of the parapet depends on how far the deck surface is off the ground:
For 'low-level' decks up to 600mm from ground level - parapet height should be 900mm.

For 'high-level' decks over 600mm high – parapet height should be 1100mm.

Where parapets act as safety barriers, they should be designed and constructed to meet the UK building regulations (the Building Regulations for England and Wales and the Technical Standards for Scotland).

The Q-Deck® Plus glass balustrade system is suitable for outdoor use in situations where the fall on the outside of an enclosed area is not more than 600mm high (according to BS 6399 Building Regulation requirements).

Quality Decking Installation Guides

The Q-Deck 'How to Build a Deck' video is now available online, you can view it on YouTube, here.

We also strongly recommend the specific deck building publications shown below. These publications are available to buy at good book shops or via the internet.

Timber Decking The Professionals Manual by Patrick Hislop
Building and Designing Decks by Scott Schuttner
The Complete Guide to Decks by Black + Decker

Note: the construction information provided in our brochure can be used as a guide for decks up to 600mm above ground level (for domestic applications/loadings). For decks 600mm or more above ground level, those requiring Building Regulation conformity or those used in a commercial application, it is necessary to seek advice from a professional deck installer.