Deck Plans: Drawing Plans for Your Project


You can produce professional-looking deck plans even if you're not a professional draftsman. A pad of graph paper (use a 1/4-inch grid), a pencil or two, a good eraser, a ruler, and perhaps an architect's scale are the only tools you'll need.

Projects in Drawing Plans

Satisfying the inspector
Start with rough drawings that show the basic contours of the deck. Then move on to scale drawings. Create a final drawing that details board placement. Ask your local building department about its specific requirements for plans.

The building department may have sample plans that you can use as guides for your own drawings. Most departments do not demand architect-quality plans, but do want to see where all the pieces fit. Inspectors don't like to squint over unclear drawings, and they may want to see a complete list of all materials.

Produce at least one plan view (how the deck looks from overhead) and one elevation (how it looks from the front and side). Include separate, enlarged detail drawings for all the parts that are complicated or unusual.

Plans save time and money

Though it may seem tedious, draw every framing piece; this shows exactly how many boards of which sizes you'll need.

With a complete set of drawings in hand, you won't have to estimate materials; you can count the exact number of boards and hardware pieces you will need. Buy several extra pieces of each size lumber, in case some are defective or damaged.

Detailed drawings also can help you spot ways to save money on materials. For example, if a plan calls for joists that are 12 feet 2 inches long, you will need to buy 14-foot boards and waste nearly 2 feet of each piece. By shortening the deck a few inches, you can buy less expensive 12-foot joists.

Drawing careful plans enables you to solve problems before you start building -- it's better to waste pencil lead than costly lumber and your valuable time. The more detailed and precise you make the drawings, the more likely you are to catch design flaws that would slow the building project. For example, draw in outdoor receptacle boxes, faucets, or dryer vents that protrude from the side of the house; knowing that you may need to work around them when you attach the ledger will save time and minimize frustration in the middle of the project.

One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!