Budgeting for the Cost to Build a Deck

By Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow · December 06, 2023 · 8 minute read

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Budgeting for the Cost to Build a Deck

A deck can turn your backyard into a dream destination. But the reality is, building one isn’t cheap.

A new 320-square-foot wood deck can set you back around $19,248, according to the latest estimates from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. A composite deck of the same size runs around $24,677. On average, a typical homeowner will spend between $30 and $60 per square foot to have a deck professionally built, according to Angi. But project costs can vary based on where you live, the materials you use, the size of the deck, and other factors.

Whatever your deck plans entail, you’ll want to make sure you’re financially prepared. Here’s a closer look at the factors that can impact how much you could pay to have a professionally built deck added to your home.

Get an Idea of Labor Costs

No matter what kind of deck you’re building, count on labor taking up a big chunk of the budget. Generally speaking, it’s around 50% of the overall project costs, though some estimates put that figure closer to 70% (The rest of the budget typically goes toward covering the cost of materials and other smaller expenses.)

One way to get a rough idea of how much you’ll pay for labor is to use the rule of two. This method involves estimating the total cost of the project (labor plus materials) and dividing that amount by two. The result is the estimate of labor costs.

The rule of two also works the other way around. Let’s say you get a quote from a contractor who will be building your deck. To get an idea of the total cost of the project, simply multiply the labor cost you’ve been quoted by two.

While this method can provide a solid starting point as you plan your budget, it doesn’t factor in any unexpected costs that may crop up as your deck is being built.

💡 Quick Tip: With home renovations, surprises are inevitable. Not so with SoFi home improvement loans. There are no fees required, and no surprises.

Consider the Decking Materials

Another important factor to consider is the material you want to use for your deck. More durable decking material will likely cost you more, but could save in the long run with minimal upkeep or less-expensive repairs. Here’s a look at the average cost of common materials, according to Angi:

•   Pressure-treated wood: $15 to $25 per square foot

•   Composite decking: $4 to $12 per square foot (materials only) or $25 to $54 per square foot (for an installed deck)

•   Bamboo: $3 to $10 per square foot

•   Cedar: $4 to $9 per square foot

•   Redwood: $5 to $35 per square foot

•   Metal: $15 to $20 per linear foot

Of course, price is just one factor. You’ll also want to think about the climate where you live. Do you get a lot of snow in the winter? Is it very humid in the summer? Be sure whatever decking material you choose can stand up to the environment.

Choose a Design That Fits Your Budget

After materials and labor, the actual design of a deck can influence the overall cost of the project. To help keep prices low, you may want to stick with a simple design, traditional, squared-off corners, or even a smaller deck.

One affordable option? A ground-level deck, which sits within 30 inches from the ground. Because it’s so low, this type of deck requires fewer materials and structural reinforcements. And you won’t need to add a railing or stairs, which can be additional savings.

Factor In Additional Costs

While labor, materials, and design are the major players in a construction budget, there are other costs you’ll want to consider.

Permits are one example. Most towns and cities require permits for additional structures like decks. Deck contractors are usually well-versed in this process, and most will include the price of permits in their quotes.

If you’re building the deck yourself — or your contractor won’t pull a permit — you’ll need to handle the red tape yourself. Start by calling your local building department and explaining the project to them. If a permit is required, they can explain how the process works and provide you with the correct application form.

It’s also a smart move to factor in any costs you may incur once the deck is built. For instance, the new addition could increase your home insurance premiums. (Your agent can explain what changes, if any, you’ll need to make to your policy.)

You may also be hit with a higher property tax bill, since the addition of a permanent fixture like a deck typically increases a home’s value. To get an estimate of the change, contact your local building and tax departments.

Comparison Shop

Construction is similar to plumbing or automotive repair in that if you aren’t an expert, it can be hard to gauge the price. Whether you’re hiring a contractor or a carpenter, it can help to ask for bids from a few local professionals to ensure you have the right person for the job — and your budget. Ask potential candidates to provide photos of their projects and names of previous clients you can call.

For a long-term investment like a deck, going with the cheapest option might not be the best strategy. While there are ways to potentially lower the cost of a new deck, be sure you’re not sacrificing quality for price. After all, this is something that you and your family will hopefully be using for years.

Ways to Pay For a New Deck

While a deck brings comfort and enjoyment, the cost of building one can be significant. Here are some common financing options to explore.

Personal Loan

If you need to access funds quickly, don’t want to use your home as collateral, and can afford to make the monthly payments, consider a personal loan.

With this type of loan, you borrow a lump sum from a lender, which you’ll pay back with interest. The money can be used for almost anything, including paying for a new deck. Personal loans are usually unsecured, which means they don’t require collateral. Instead, a lender will consider a borrower’s creditworthiness.

Most lenders offer a personal loan amount of $50,000, though some lenders, including SoFi, offer lending amounts up to $100,000. Repayment terms are usually two to seven years, and interest rates are typically fixed.

💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. SoFi personal loans come with no-fee options, and no surprises.

Fixed-Rate Home Equity Loan

If you’ve built up equity in your home and have a one-time cash need, you may want to look into a fixed-rate home equity loan.

This loan type is fairly straightforward: You receive a lump-sum payment from the lender, which you’ll repay over a period of time with a set interest rate. The term of these loans typically spans five to 15 years, and the amount you borrow must be repaid in full if you sell your home. If you’re unable to make the payments, you could risk losing your house.

Note that the closing costs may be similar to the cost of closing on a home mortgage. As you’re comparison shopping, be sure to ask about the lender’s closing costs so you can prepare your budget accordingly.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

If your deck addition turns into an ongoing project, and you want some flexibility to pay as you go, then a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be a good fit.

A HELOC is revolving debt, meaning that as you pay down the loan balance, you can borrow it again during the draw period. That’s when you can use, or draw, funds against the line of credit, typically 10 years. After that, you can no longer draw funds. (Another important time period to keep in mind? The repayment period, which is the amount of time you have to repay the loan in full.)

Note that unlike a fixed-rate home improvement loan, a HELOC’s interest rate is variable. This means it changes to reflect the current interest rate, which could cause your monthly loan payment amounts to vary.

No-Interest Credit Cards

With a no-interest, or 0% APR, credit card, you won’t be charged any interest on your purchases for a set period of time. Some cards also extend the temporary 0% APR to balance transfers.

A no-interest credit card comes with low borrowing costs, which could make it an attractive way to finance a new deck. But qualifying for one of these cards can be difficult. And when the promotional period ends, a potentially high APR will start accruing on the remaining balance.

The Takeaway

Adding a deck onto your home can be a great way to enjoy your backyard and add to the value of your home. When budgeting for the cost to build a deck, you’ll want to factor in labor, materials, design, and extra expenses like permits, insurance premiums, and property taxes. Enlisting the help of a reputable, licensed contractor or carpenter can help ensure you get the deck you want, at a price you can afford.

There are some common ways to finance a new deck, and each has its own set of pros and cons. With a personal loan, you may be able to get a lump sum fairly quickly. A fixed-rate home equity loan may have lower rates and longer repayment terms than a personal loan, but you’ll need to use your house as collateral. A HELOC allows you to pay as you go, which could be handy if the construction project runs long. And a no-interest credit card offers low borrowing costs, but a potentially high APR kicks in once the promotional period ends.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

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