[help!] Zero to hero - flat deck

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Forum topic by totalnub posted 05-26-2019 03:13 PM 400 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 23 days

05-26-2019 03:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: deck noob permit plans nj

Hello LumberJocks! I am a 30 year old first time home owner living in central NJ. I want to build a flat, ground level deck, behind my house. I have done a few small projects but nothing as serious as a deck. I am hoping to go from zero to hero this summer and I am very willing to put in the wrench time.

I have spent a lot of time googling and reading but I still feel lost on how to properly plan/draw and permit this deck. I have a good understanding of the steps to build the deck – there is a ton of info online on the steps and materials needed. I am having trouble finding guidance on how to draw proper plans and successfully submit for a permit.

I spoke to an architect who wanted to charge me double the cost of my materials for a drawing and permit. I am a bit turned off to go that route now. I spoke to my towns building inspector who told me to just get an architect.

I could really use some advice/guidance for next steps. Any help or documentation is appreciated! I am very eager to learn. Thank you very much.

12 replies so far

View Phil32's profile


540 posts in 290 days

#1 posted 05-26-2019 03:22 PM

There is significant variation in the requirements for building permits across the country. Architects are trained to know what’s required in their area of practice. On this site you may get a lot of advice, but does it apply to your locale?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View totalnub's profile


3 posts in 23 days

#2 posted 05-26-2019 03:34 PM

Hi Phil – Thanks for your reply. I am able to find deck guides for my town and the surrounding towns on the local government pages. Things like 36” footer holes and such are all mapped out for me.

Last year I attempted to draw out plans and submit for a permit but was essentially laughed out of the office :) I am hoping to lean on more experienced builders now.

Thanks again Phil.

View Manitario's profile


2755 posts in 3270 days

#3 posted 05-26-2019 04:10 PM

Building a deck is a fairly simple process; usually the permit part is the most difficult as your city permit department will want detailed drawings. Go to your local big box store and buy a book on deck construction; it will have pictures, explanations of the various terms etc. This will be more detailed and helpful than online advice.
My local town has a great PDF on submitting deck plans for a building permit. Your town will be different but it gives you a general idea of what is required:
Click on “Standard Details for Deck”

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View totalnub's profile


3 posts in 23 days

#4 posted 05-26-2019 04:33 PM

Thanks Manitario! I will take your advice.

View SMP's profile


1030 posts in 293 days

#5 posted 05-26-2019 05:03 PM

Go to your city/county planning dept website and download the permit application. Depending on size etc you may not need a permit. I’ve seen a few applications that have sample plans required, which for a basic deck can be done in sketchup(or even freehand if you can draw)

Also one of the manufacturers websites used to have a planning tool that could hel with the drawing. Perhaps Trex or Simpson strong ties website?

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5276 posts in 2696 days

#6 posted 05-26-2019 05:08 PM

View JCamp's profile


981 posts in 938 days

#7 posted 05-26-2019 05:11 PM

By any chance has one of the neighbors in your area built a deck lately? Mayb they’d be willing to either share their prints (and u build the same thing) or allow you to take a look at them to understand how to draw up your own.
I’m assuming your talking about building a wooden deck….. would there be less hassle with permits if u poured a ground level slab of concrete?

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View bilyo's profile


693 posts in 1490 days

#8 posted 05-26-2019 06:50 PM

View Greg66's profile


30 posts in 45 days

#9 posted 05-26-2019 10:54 PM

In my area a permit is required for a deck but not for a patio from concrete or paver stone.

View chrisstef's profile


17914 posts in 3393 days

#10 posted 05-26-2019 10:59 PM

In CT, iff its not attached to the house theres no permit required.

Theres gotta be an on line generic plan generator out there. Id imagine all youd need is footing locations and sizes along with a rough sketch of the framing.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View john_cristiano's profile


10 posts in 929 days

#11 posted 05-27-2019 02:12 AM

You should check out the American Wood Council DCA-6. It’s a great place to start for how you could build the deck. Not sure what your area requires for permits, but if you follow what is in there then you will be fine.

View therealSteveN's profile


2802 posts in 961 days

#12 posted 05-29-2019 07:02 PM

The biggest one thing I tell folks in your situation is that water is found in all levels. So for your BIG MONSTER level to make sure you are staying level as you place posts in places sometimes 60 feet apart is a garden hose, and a pair of these to put on the ends of the hose, so you can see the water level

Completely fill the hose, and overfill so the water level is into the clear tubes you can see through. Lay the hose on the ground and hold up just the clear, to the height you want. When you have 3”, 2.5”. 5” 20” if you are lifting some of the hose up also, whatever you decide to use in both of the clear tubes, you are level. This can easily be confirmed later when you have a frame with a standard level lying on top. Make a measured mark, with permanent magic marker so you just need to see the water is on the line, not close, but on the line, and equally on both sides of your new level.

When you are going to save thousands doing it yourself, you can afford a few very nice toys. Get a nice Stabilla level. I suggest a 4 footer, as a homeowner uses for it will pop up frequently.

Most of the rest of it is pounding nails, and or driving screws, but if you make an out of level deck, it won’t end well.

-- Think safe, be safe

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