An outdoor deck is the crown jewel of many outdoor DIY projects, and will require extensive planning and work. But, because of the digging depth the support posts require and the typical proximity to homes or other structures, the one step you can't afford to skip is a quick and easy call to 811.
Calling before you begin to excavate is important for many reasons, but especially because of how deep you will have to dig. Most experts recommend a depth between 24 and 36 inches for deck posts to create the support and stability you'll need for a lifetime of enjoyment. At the same time, you may be digging close to the connection points to your home for underground utility lines. These factors mean digging without knowing the exact location of underground utility lines may be even riskier than other types of digs. Smart digging is no accident: always call 811 before you dig.
Meanwhile, other factors will guide the ultimate location of your deck. For instance, a deck built upon a slope may require concrete support in post holes for added stability. Additionally, most areas will require your deck plan to meet zoning code and local bylaws before a building permit can be issued. Lastly, all exposed surface areas will need to be treated with paint, stain or preservative to protect from weathering. Posts or any part touching the ground should be pressure-treated with a preservative or a decay-resistant species such as cedar.
Whether you are contracting with a local professional for your deck or embarking on the task on your own, a quick call to 811 by the person who will be doing the digging will quickly and easily begin the process of getting the approximate location of underground lines marked for free.
Remember, know what's below. Always call before you dig.