# How to Calculate Decks for Pools

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You've chosen your plan and educated yourself. You are an expert on composite versus wooden decking. You have the perfect site and want to begin construction but there's just one question: how much will it cost? When calculating decks for pools, there is more at stake than just your wallet. Here are three key questions that you will be able to answer with the information in this article: What will you need and how much? Will you hire it to be done or do it yourself? How much time should you expect to spend? With a little information, you can calculate your deck and have a budget in no time!

• Deck plans
• Notebook
• Calculator

## Calculating Materials

• Start with tools and prep. Consult your plans to find out what you will need. This list should contain things like gloves, tape, twine and stakes, chalk and chalkline, tape measure, levels and anything else you think will make preparations for construction easier. Write everything down in one place, in a notebook or file on your computer and keep a calculator handy.

If you need very many tools, make that a separate project with its own list and shopping trip. Educate yourself as to the ins and outs of good tools before investing. Tight on funds? Borrow tools in exchange for labor, or free dinner.

• Write down everything you need to get the frame up. You should plan on enough 2 by 6, or equivalent treated lumber for joists every 16 inches and 4 by 4 for posts at least every 8 feet. Other materials will depend on your plan.

• Your plan should say how much you will need, double check and add 10 percent. Railing should go on all sides of the deck to keep children and pets out. Finish is calculated by square foot. Most paint and stain give coverage estimates on the label. Again, order extra. Include sundries--painting supplies--such as a brushes or rollers.

## Calculating Costs

• First, price everything from two sources--one big box store and one local lumber company. Compare apples to apples. Know exactly what kind of material you need. Get their "retail" price and then ask for discounts . Take that estimate to the competitor and get their best price. You may save 10 to 20 percent. Ask for bonuses like free delivery. Local companies are more likely to say yes.

• Break costs down to price per square foot. Many libraries and home improvement centers have residential cost estimation books that give you a rough idea. To be more precise, determine what you would need to build your deck, if it were 10 feet by 10 feet. Include all items from your materials estimate.

• Lastly, take the total of materials for your sample 10 by 10 deck and divide by 100. Add 10 percent, for incidentals, and you have your price per square foot. Multiply by total square footage of actual deck to get total project cost. Add taxes, permit fees and delivery. If you are contracting the job, expect to pay twice this amount for labor. Some markets may have higher or lower going rates.

## Calculating Time

• First decide when you will build. What if that long weekend isn't enough? Will your materials (such as concrete) survive waiting a long time? You may need to consider hiring help or breaking up material purchases and work into sections.

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• Get a time estimate from a local contractor. Ask about the crew size, multiply times eight and double. If you have never built a deck or project of that size, this is how many hours it will take if everything goes well.

• Expect delays, problems with tools and material and the unavoidable second, third and fourth trip back to the lumber yard. Estimate as much time as you think it could possibly take, then add 25 percent. This is the estimate you give your neighbors and spouse, then bust your back to beat it so you can be a hero.

## Tips & Warnings

• Write down everything. Always double and triple check everything before you spend a dime. Keep receipts for taxes or returns.
• Beware bids that are too low as they may not be able to complete quality work. Always visually inspect lumber before paying, especially discount lumber.

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