Making the Most of the Great Outdoors

You can build a deck, or you can create outdoor living space. It’s all in how you look at it, says Mike McCoy of Coy Construction in Walled Lake, Mich.

February 28, 2003

 

Mike McCoy designs decks so that they keep out unwanted intruders. Areas under decks can provide a haven for rodents and other unwelcome animals. To avoid that problem, on the lower level, McCoy builds the wood deck on the ground level, sitting on a bed of 3/4-inch round stone both under the deck and around the perimeter. "Animals don't like the stone," McCoy says. The stone also allows water to dissipate quickly after a rainstorm. Careful attention to privacy is also an important design consideration. McCoy uses a combination of 1x6 tongue-and-groove fencing with lattice trim to provide privacy from neighbors. He also uses fencing and trim to hide exterior items such as air-conditioning units or unsightly meters and vents on the side of the house. To provide access to meters, he builds a lattice cover with hinges.

You can build a deck, or you can create outdoor living space. It's all in how you look at it, says Mike McCoy of Coy Construction in Walled Lake, Mich.

"Design is everything," he says. "It's the most important part of the project. If it looks good, the deck will enhance curb appeal and add value to the house." It also creates functional space. "Think of it as an addition to the house," McCoy says.

The outdoor living space of this home in Farmington Hills, Mich., consists of four outdoor "rooms" - a screened porch, an upper-level deck for sun and two lower-level deck areas, one with a shaded spa. "Take advantage of both upper and lower space," McCoy says. "The lower level should not be a place to just store the wheelbarrow."

McCoy believes a deck should look like it was built with the house. One of his tricks is to paint the deck's vertical surfaces the same color as the house trim. For visual impact, McCoy recommends that the decking floors run diagonally without splicing individual boards. He is also a firm believer in 45-degree angles for aesthetic reasons. "I never design a deck that is rectangular or square," he says.

On this house, the upper-level deck, which wraps around to the driveway, cost about $12,000, including the stairway and railing. The screened porch with a 4x4-foot skylight cost another $12,000. The two lower-level decks, not including the spa, cost about $7,000.

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