So last post we talked about some of the realistic considerations that must be taken into account when designing your dream deck. Each deck and property owner has their own limitations to deal with prior to settling on a design, and just to help flesh out some of the potential concerns, we’d like to cover some of the most limiting factors in custom deck design.

Site Context

Last week we talked about some major design limitations such as elevation, door location, ledger board and home atmosphere, and in keeping with this theme, we want to start this post off by discussing the deck site context.

By deck site context, we mean exactly that, the context in which your deck will exist. Is your environment in an urban setting, or will your deck be secluded in the country? What kind of neighborhood are you in? What is the back yard setting like?

Having a clear understanding of the site context will help you acknowledge the benefits and drawbacks of where your deck will be located, better preparing you to design a deck that meets the needs of the specific context. To get a clear understanding, spend some time in the area in which your deck will be. Go out there in the morning, afternoon, evening and night time to observe the environment in different contexts. What kind of view do you have from your back door? Is it something you want to accent, or hide? Anticipate what the weather will be like during different seasons. The goal of this is to pull in positive elements of the site context and help reduce the negative impact of elements you don’t enjoy as much.


Stairs are something you will have to consider when designing a custom deck, although the number of stairs, the measure of their slope and curve all depend on the landscape and elevation of your back yard. The exclusion to this statement is if your back door is ground level and you are planning on constructing a patio instead of deck.

We often hear that deck stairs are one of the most frustrating aspects in planning a deck design. Deck stairs are vitally important though, as they are not only a main access point, but also the connection between your deck and your yard. At Garuda Decks we are experts in crafting the perfect transition between your deck and yard. We start by measuring the change in elevation between the deck and the ground. Then we determine the number of stairs needed by dividing the rise of the stairs. The IRC code requires deck stairs to be between 4 and 7 3/4ths with a tread dimension of at least 10 inches. We also consult to help decide critical decisions like where the stairs and ground should merge and how to navigate curves in a staircase to model the shape of the deck and add a realistic and functional custom stair case.


Because the goal of a custom built deck is to create a relaxing, functional and inviting space outdoors, it is imperative that privacy matters be taken into account. When a deck is positioned in a way where it is easy for others to see, it may make the deck owner uncomfortable to be out there, and we all know an unused deck is a wasted deck. Some people are fortunate to not even have to consider privacy, since their back yard may face a wooded forest. However, for the majority of America’s suburban dwelling population, there is a certain amount of visibility from one house to another, which can be reduced when constructing a deck. After surveying the situation, weigh privacy options like landscaping changes to block views, or construction adjustments such as privacy walks or pergolas.


So far we have covered a good amount of structural technical limitations that may impact the deck design, and all of them are worth considering, however, before you can even begin construction on a deck, you must acquire all the building permits that are required by your individual local municipality. Usually these permits are related to the IRC (International Residential Code) building codes which only a small fraction of apply to deck construction.

These codes do enforce standards on ledger board installation, guardrails, beam and joist sizing, stair construction, decking materials, and more. Working with a good, reputable contractor can help reduce uncertainty about adhering to building code standards.


Finally, we have to mention one of the most limiting factors in deck design planning and that is budget. Of course we all would love to have the world’s most perfect deck, but as we have been realistic about all of the limitations we have already mentioned, we encourage you to be realistic about a deck construction budget as well. When calculating a budget for a deck, there are three things to take into account

  1. Cost
  2. Square Footage
  3. Material Quality

The thing to understand is that a deck is a substantial investment. You can control two of the three variables above, at any one time, and that will always impact the third. The thing is that it is nearly impossible to control all three at the same time.

Of course, there are ways to save money on deck design, and we at Garuda Decks would love to help. Contact us by calling (919) 460-8802, or fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation and free estimate on your new deck design.