Nothing puts a damper on a beautiful property quite like a washed-out, faded, and poorly-stained cracking or splitting deck. Outdoor spaces are becoming an increasingly popular part of homes as people look to enjoy time outside with their family and friends. Whether they love having get-togethers with friends or making a good BBQ meal in the summer, outdoor living spaces are a must for many renters on the market today.

Many older homes do come with outdoor spaces, however, they often they are old, outdated, and quite frankly more of an eyesore than something that is a plus for your rental property. However, before you undergo a deck renovation, there are things you need to consider to ensure that your project goes smoothly. The following are 7 things that you will want to consider before trying to pull off a deck renovation on one of your investment properties:

  1. Ensure the Deck Meets Building Codes/Standards In Your Area: If you have an older home that was built decades ago with the original deck still attached, the first step is to ensure that the deck is still within the building code. Often, over the years, decks will decay (especially if they get made of wood) and at some point, they become unsafe for people to use. Ensuring that your deck is a safe structure for the renters who will be living there is key before you determine if any renovation is possible at all. Otherwise, it might be a complete rebuild that is required to keep your future tenants safe.
  2. Perform an Inspection on the Deck: To ensure that the deck that is currently attached to the property is safe, you will need to have an inspection performed on the structure by a certified inspector. Whether you or someone that works for you hold that license, or you hire out someone reputable and professional, ensuring that the structure is safe and the sound is the first step to deciding if a renovation is even feasible.
  3. Check with Your HOA: If there is a local HOA in the place where the home is at, be sure that the HOA approves all changes you want to make to the outside of the home. “Assuming” that the project is not OK, especially if you find yourself having to “undo” or “redo” your work later as the HOA doesn’t allow it. Checking first is always the safest policy.
  4. Get Any Permits You May Need: Some local communities, municipalities, townships, towns, or cities will require you to have a permit to perform a renovation outside of the home. Contact your local authorities to determine if you owe fees for any permits. Getting them up front can save you from getting slapped with a hefty fine later.
  5. You Can Only Spend So Much Money: Once you determine that the structure you are working with is physically sound, determine the budget for your project. Renovating a deck makes a great outdoor space that can add value to your property, but the real questions remain: How much value will a renovated deck add? Based on that estimation, determine what you are willing to spend on the project. Be realistic about what you will be able to accomplish for that price.
  6. Understand What Supplies You Need to Have On Hand: To determine the total cost and start the project (and complete it without delay), be sure to understand what products you will need to complete the project. If you have the supplies on hand, to begin with, you won’t get held up while doing your project waiting for supplies to come in once you realize you need to order them.  The faster the deck renovation is complete, the sooner you can put your property on the market and start making income from your next renters.
  7. If You Don’t Have Renovation Experiences, Consider Hiring a Contractor: A contractor with experience in renovating decks can help you get the job done right the first time if you and your team don’t have the appropriate expertise to do the job “in-house.” Yes, the initial layout may be more money, but if you hire a reputable contractor, you are more likely to have the job done correctly than if you try to do something you’re unfamiliar with yourself. In the end, they may very well help save you money.

These are 7 things to consider before you get your deck renovation underway. Ensuring that you comply with all local building codes and have all necessary permits required in your area will help you pull off your renovation in a stress-free manner. It can also help you avoid getting hit with a hefty fine for doing work that you are not permitted to do if your area does indeed require such approval.