We are planning to build a deck this spring– How do we start?
Building decks in Ontario in 2022, and, getting it done first thing this spring might be difficult. A simple deck might be achievable, but, a larger showpiece deck will take a month or two to plan and a few more months to get permits and materials arranged.
Contracting with a Quality Deck Builder with a short-term schedule is unlikely. We have been booked solid since Covid started, and, many builders have been taken out by the material cost instability.
Maybe I should explain this a little better. When there is a dramatic week-to-week change in material costs and projects are booked months in advance–builders often blow the budgeting and lose money on projects. Most deck builders can’t float losses very long. Many are no longer in business, worse still, some deck companies are working through insolvency.
Our company saw this coming, so, we arranged payments so that the materials were prepaid long before the project started. This is the only way to lock in pricing months in advance. Materials are stored on-site, or, at the supplier’s facility.
Building Decks in 2022 – Planning and Permits in Ontario
When building decks, planning, and permits take time. Even before Covid, obtaining permits in Ontario was taking 3 weeks to a year, depending on the municipality. There are rules in place to expedite the process–but, building departments have created ways to stretch the process out.
They bounce the plans back for changes to take place, based on frivolous and zoning requirements that are open to “Interpretation”. Often, when you ask why that particular rule exists, they will tell you that they don’t know. The folks that enforce the rules, often don’t understand them.
In some areas like Barrie Ontario, Ottawa, and Hastings you can count on months, not weeks to obtain a permit. If you want anything out of the ordinary, count on paying an engineer to certify that the details will be safe.
Planning a great deck usually involves working with a professional designer. There are a few deck builders that can knock deck designs out of the park, but, that is not the norm. Most builders will plan the deck so that they can maximize their profit. We at DesignersDecks.com believe that the design matters more than the builder’s profit margin.
The deck designer will take you through the process of exploring concept ideas as you see above. Maybe curves work, maybe a roof system. Maybe different sizes and shapes, or part patio and part deck will fit the home better. and help keep the budget reasonable.
Once the designer and the homeowner are on the same page the deck designer can put it all together into a comprehensive design. A great design has to take in the client’s sense of style, budget, and the style of the home as well.
Our Final Deck Design Concepts look like this.
Permit Plans in Ontario for 2022 are pretty involved. Every aspect of the project needs to be detailed and these take some time as well. Here is a sample below.
Building Decks in 2022 – Which Builder?
Let’s break this into 2 parts. I have a feeling that the beginning of this year will look very different than the later part of the year. There is still a lot of fluff left in the system and many builders have contracts well into the summer.
Inflation is moving so fast that many deck builders are not keeping up with their costs. Jobs sold 6 months ago may have no profit to be had and to preserve their reputation they may work for free for a while.
Builders are not the only ones affected by skyrocketing costs– many homeowners are feeling the pinch. When people don’t feel rich, their wallets stay closed. Watch later in the year for a dramatic slowdown in Ontario.
Many banks are making it harder to lend–and much residential work requires financing. As this source of capital dries up there will be plenty of projects that are canceled. In the past 2 years, it has been a bidding war in favor of the builders and many that really shouldn’t be in business have had an easy go. As the situation flips, you may find that better builders have space to fit your project in.
When it comes to budget builders, (Caveat Emptor), there will be many desperate builders in the latter part of the year that are willing to forgo profit to stay in business. Many will be robbing Peter to save Paul– so, caution is warranted. When the music stops… you could be left hanging.
For best results, stick with the most competent builder you can afford. They do cost more.
Building Decks in 2022 – Price Pressures
Materials suppliers have been panic buying throughout the last 2 years due to shortages. Most stores of Red Cedar were used up when we ran out of pressure-treated lumber. Composite decking has been moving up in price and pressure treated is currently about 3-4x the price before the pandemic.
The question is, “Was the Pre-Pandemic Lumber Price the Norm?”.
The market was actually depressed here in Ontario. The price of lumber was near the low for the previous decade. The Asian Pine Beatle had decimated our pine forests out west, and they were able to harvest the standing dead timber at very low costs.
This price pendulum swung wildly over the past 2 years and this latest push higher was mostly due to flooding in BC. Many sawmills are relocating their operations to the Southern States. There is a glut of standing timber there presently to take advantage of.
Future Decking Prices
Will timber and composite decking come back down to historic lows in the near future? I believe that is unlikely. Costs across the board have increased substantially, and, no mill will run at a loss for long. It may be that years into the future inflation will eventually make lumber look cheap again.
Transportation seems to be one of the major drivers of composite decking prices. The input plastic and PVC come from overseas, and, shipping charges are presently x10.
The Re-Shoring Trend
The trend is to re-shore our supply chain. Making tangible things here is better for our economy–but it certainly isn’t cheaper than overseas production. Once fuel and energy costs get reeled in we may see composite made for comparatively cheaper prices here, but it will never return to the $5 per foot price seen pre-pandemic.
The interesting part of inflation is that once our wages go up in response–some things seem cheaper overall. There is always a delay in the system.
I think we will see elevated prices for the next year. They may come back off a little, then, remain within a tight window for decades.
We experienced some serious shortages over the past 2 years, but, things have improved somewhat.
Presently we are seeing shortages in many dimensions of Western Red Cedar.
When it comes to composite and PVC, we really have to call around to see who has stock. It may be that you have to use a different brand to avoid 2-3 months of lead time.
Our Schedule Currently:
Designs are about 2-3 weeks out through our Sister Site www.designyourreno.com
Designersdecks is a Boutique Builder and we are not building hundreds of decks a year. We only take on interesting and high-quality builds.
Presently our Mississauga Crew is booking June Installation, and our Barrie Crew is booking late July.