New Deck Specs - how long to build

lwimMarch 16, 2011

Hi Everyone,

I'm having a covered attached patio 15x32 added to our house and as a part of the contract they will replace our existing ground level deck. The new deck will be just over 1500 square feet (replacing a 25 year old 1100 sq ft deck)and is the last thing to go in. For whatever its worth, we live in Houston home of heat and humidity. The deck will be attached to the house (ground level) and about 700 sq ft will be covered. There are a couple of curves on it, but no elevation changes. Most boards will be run diagonally with straight cuts defining various areas of the deck. No boards are over 20 feet. The material is MCA treated pine and, yes I wanted to do IPE, but there were 20,000+ reasons I couldn't and our last PT pine deck worked out great - 25 years - probaly could get another 3-4 years out of most of the deck.

My first question is if it is reasonably possible with a two or three man crew working normal days, the area already cleared and all materials available to build this big of deck in 4 to 5 days. The problem is that my builder has come back to me and said I'm very particular and its takes them longer to build it and that he only has 4 days in the contact (there is nothing in the contract about number of days to build the deck) and that he'll give me an extra day, but anything beyond 5 days I have to pay $500.00 per day. The crew told me it will take 9 or ten days to build. It seems to me he must be running over his cost limits and is trying to get an unjustified price increase.

Generally he's been pretty stand up about their mistakes and have corrected them and while I had to point them out and make them redo it over, that doesn't make me particular or whatever you want to call it. there were a few other items where I had to pay extra and it wasn't cheap, but not necessarily out of line.

Unfortunately he has me over a barrel here because of two things that aren't spelled out in the contract. The first is routing of all boards. I told him that's what I wanted because that's the way the deck is built now. He put rounded edges in the contract and I wasn't smart enough to realize that boards now come with rounded edges, but don't look as good as a 3/8's routed board and we haven't even discussed that issue yet. The second item is nails or screws, which I haven't decided yet other than my edge boards will be screwed.

In any case can anyone tell me if 4-5 days is reasonable for a deck of this size?

Sorry for venting so much.



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Larry either his Contract to you is very strange or I am not understanding it.

Did you mean MCQ pt pine and is it 5/4'' thick, is handrail/skirting involved ?

Screw it down with ss trim head trox .

John Hyatt

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Thanks John for your prompt response,

The contract is a little skimpy for the deck, but the rest is pretty detailed. There are no handrails or benches. The planks are 2x6s. MCA and MCQ are just slightly different processes for the pressure treatment with MCA being Micronized Copper Azole. Some studies have shown MCA to outperform MCQ, but I don't believe there is any thing really definitive and only time will tell how good they are.

Wish I could afford the hardwoods, but such is not the case.

A couple of questions for you.

When you're laying the planks at this time of year, temp 75, humidity 70, how much do you separate them? Do you ever lay them side against side?

Thanks for the info on the screws.

WOW! The contractor just called. The net out is that he built the quote based on nailing it and using rounded boards, not routing. He said to screw down would add a day and a half and routing would add another day. He did agree to screw down the straight boards not the diagonals. There are 51 of these ranging in size from 14 to 20 feet. There will be about 425 diagonals. He said they'd complete it in 6 working days, but if takes 7 or 8 no additional charge. On the other hand if I want the screws all around and the routing, it'll be about $1,250 additional. Does this make sense. I guess its shame on me for not getting more specific on those items, although the contract is silent on the nail vs screws issue.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:41PM
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I am always going to be on the side of the Contractor.

Us Contractors need all the money we can get and there is no scale to measure how much is too much.

General Contractors add in their cut on top of the regular costs. Usually its around 20%.

That said your geting the corn cob where the sun dont shine. The man's pricing on routing/screwing is way out of line >> If I was doing the Job Your stuck with the Dude live with it.
Do the best you can with screwing all the 2x6 decking down You really want that.
Actually it would have been better to put down 5/4 over 2x6 with pt lumber the more size the more movement,same lifespan, but what the hay.

The trim head screws will put less stress on the decking and will counter sink. The Man will most likely want to use big head screws, because thats what he knows, they will sit slightly below the decking on install done right and after a season will be flush or a little above the decking. Do what he wants to do. Its not worth the fight.

Dont leave any gap at all, and dont jam the decking up by force, just snug them up. There is going to be plenty of space between them in a short time.

I run into this kind of thing with new buildings all the time. The Deck has little importance in fact its delt with as an after thought. Thus......a lot of them are very short lived. That's a good thing for Me I have a steady business replacing them.

Hang in there Larry, its just a deck, when its all done and the smoke has cleared, Get out there and have a Lone Star beer. Life is good and too short to mess with the small stuff.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 7:30PM
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Thanks for the comments and info. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had asked for these things to be included in the contract, it would have been less $'s. It's still not the end of the world. I was more peo'd about his original edict that anything beyond 5 days would cost me $500 per day.

One final question, with these new MCQ and MCA treatments, how long do you need to wait before staining?

Once again, thanks John.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:17PM
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Dont wait for anything but good weather to put the finish on any outdoor project.

We are stuck with mcq over here but no matter what kind of wood is used put the finish on right away.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 7:09AM
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If this 1500 sq. ft. deck requires new footings and framing, I don't think that there is anyway 3 guys are going to build in 4*5 days, even with gun nailing. His crew's guess is a lot closer.

I myself would figure 11 days, to do a quality job. 4 days would be about right to just lay the decking, as long as there were not many pre cuts to be made.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Here's an update. They got started on Thursday May 17, good ol' St Patrick's day. They are working today, Saturday Mar 26, so a total of 8 full days into the project. They will not finish until Tuesday, March 29, giving them a total of 10 days to build it. As we all know, there was no way to build it in 4 to 5 days. And it was a complete tear out with new frame and posts. When it's done, I'll send pictures. In regards to the extra costs, I decided that I wanted the routing instead of rounded edges. Builder called me back and said the only wood he could get did not have rounded edges and he was going to have to route it anyway, so I agreed to paying $250 bucks for routing and he covered the rest of the cost. I probably could have forced him to either delay the project a week to 10 days or have him not charge me for it. That wasn't my goal and I really wanted the routing, so I felt our agreement was fair.

The main issue I have had was with the frame. Just inexperience on their part on what makes a quality deck frame. For me, It's a frame that is level and doesn't give - solid as a rock. I had to go over it myself and show them where it sagged and have them shore it up - anything from additional cross bracing to additional stakes and posts. They weren't happy with me finding fault with their work, but they should have done it right in the first place.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 3:47PM
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