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Old 01-31-2012, 03:17 AM   #1
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Dying to build a deck

Hi all, been thinking of building a deck but I'm no pro and I'm thinking through the logistics of the build.

To start, I'm in Surrey (just south of Vancouver) BC. So wet climate, mostly mild winters.

I've attached two images - one of which is an existing 9'x10' concrete slab and the other is a future 12'x18' deck I'd like.

I have a few problems:
1) The clearance over the concrete is about 6" to the sliding doors.
2) The slab is horribly slanted away from the house. I'd suggest that the corner farthest from the house is about 8"-10" lower than the corner closest to the house. I know the slab is supposed to slant for drainage but there is an existing rail that used to be attached to the house and slab that has pulled away from the house by about 4 inches
3) The slab is about 4" thick. It sits off the ground by a good 6" where it's attached? to the house. It's resting on the ground farthest from the house.
4) To the right of the sliding door on the far wall, below grade is an egress window to the basement. In the future deck plan, I've railed that off to prevent my two kids from spelunking but leaving the egress off to the right (I hope that's ok).
5) The ground is very uneven all around the backyard.

I probably have many more problems but I've only just started.

My original plan was to build right on top of the slab but the more I read, the more I think this is a bad idea. Simply because I don't have the clearance for it (6") and I don't think it's up to code to do that on a 4" slab. If that is possible, I'll explore that further.

I'm now thinking I should break up and remove the slab (which is reinforced no?) and start a new with sonotubes. But how do I break up the slab that is against the house without damaging the home?

Hoping for some advice or other ideas. Thanks all.
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Dying to build a deck-deck-original.jpg   Dying to build a deck-deck-new.jpg  


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Old 01-31-2012, 05:30 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting your location! When was the home built/how old is the slab?

The renderings are helpful, but it sounds like you may have some issues with the land sliding or with drainage. You should correct these issues prior to building, or be sure your plan takes the issues into account. If your plan is to just go ahead with it, don't attach the deck to your home.

Some quick quesitons:
Can you post actual photos outlining what you mean by " It sits off the ground by a good 6" where it's attached." Does that mean there is space (air) between the bottom of the slab and the ground, or are you saying it's 6" thick (min) at the home foundation?

Can you verify the 8-10" dive across the slab? What does the rest of the yard do?

It is unlikely that the slab has metal reinforcement, more likely is just fiber. Your local tool rental should have a breaker hammer (The new bosch is really easy on the joints). It's also unlikely that the slab is mechanically attached to the house. A different mix of concrete is used for exterior vs foundation/interior, so this would have been a separate pour. After breaking up the slab, you should be able to use your concrete chisel and a small sledge to clean up your foundation.

HOWEVER, there are local guys on this forum that will know more about what the slab is made of. I differ to them.

Everyone on here will have TONS of suggestions on construction, but I'll bet they have similar/additional concerns. I've done floating decks in similar situations (see attached), but first it would be great to know more about your current conditions. Pictures would be ideal.
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Dying to build a deck-20.jpg   Dying to build a deck-50.jpg   Dying to build a deck-100.jpg  
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:07 AM   #3
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There are lots DIY books available, for designing decks. Start there. You will need a permit, so you need detailed plans with support posts/beams and structure. Far too many collapsed decks have caused injuries and death, so do it right. Once you understand the basics, it is not hard for someone with good DIY skills.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:38 AM   #4
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Reno, that's a nice deck. I like the way you matched the colors on the 45.
"True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and only that which is."
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:09 AM   #5
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Wow...Reno...that's some deck. Do you travel?

I'll take some pictures if I can get home from work before dark otherwise, I'll have to do that this weekend.

But yes...it sits 6" off the ground where it's "attached" to the house and under that is air.

The rest of the yard is undulating at best. It's not a huge yard. The lot is about 4200 sqft and the footprint of the house is about 1000 sqft if I had to guess (not including the garage).

The house and slab are roughly 8 years old.

I didn't think about having to level the ground prior to installing the new deck...the question about drainage did pop into my mind though. I'll have to factor all that in. But if I'm to level the ground (and now I'm off on somewhat of a tangent), wouldn't it be much easier and cheaper to use stone or pavers? Would be easier to maintain too.

Bill...what book(s) would you recommend? I was thinking of the following:
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:31 AM   #6
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Pavers are a good idea when you're talking low to the ground, what I like about pavers is that if you don't get all the compaction done properly or you have future sinking the pavers are not ruined like a slab would be, simply remove, backfill, tamp, and reinstall pavers. Deck piers should be dug to undisturbed earth so you have no settling in the future but then you want to ensure that all drainage is done properly so water runs away from the home.


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concrete , deck

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