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Building a Deck or Patio? A Few Insights Into Your Legal Requirements

With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees in the summer, and plenty of sunshine all year round, a deck or patio is a great addition to your Louisville home. But before you start building, it's important to think about what legal requirements there are for deck and patio construction. This is particularly important to think about if you're considering selling your home in the future, since you will need to make sure that your house passes a home inspection before you are able to sell it. Here are a few insights into these legal requirements to help you get started.

Obtaining a Permit

The first thing that you'll need to do before starting construction is to obtain a permit. In Kentucky, a permit is required for anyone who wishes to "construct, enlarge, remodel or change the occupancy of a building." You can obtain a permit by visiting the Louisville Metro Government website and searching for “building permits.”

Where Can You Build?

Before you start designing your deck or patio, you first need to make sure that the location you choose complies with Kentucky State building code. Decks or patios cannot be located within an easement, over top of a septic tank, or over top of your house's only crawlspace entry. Furthermore, Kentucky's building code forbids anyone from building a deck beyond the side or rear yard building setback lines.

The next thing to do once you choose the right location is to call #811 to make sure that you will not encounter any underground cables or utilities when digging. Kentucky law also specifies that you remove any vegetation from underneath your deck, and the building code recommends that you install a landscape fabric under your deck or patio to prevent weeds from growing through.

Selecting Your Materials

Now that you've chosen a legal location, you're ready to find your materials. When you set out to buy your wood, make sure that you are using graded lumber (which is identified by a grade mark left by a lumber inspection agency), since non-graded or rough-sawn lumber is not approved under Kentucky's building code. This wood should also be either of a naturally durable variety or a pressure-treated material. Additionally, when choosing fasteners, you have four choices for approved metals: hot-dipped galvanized steel, stainless steel, silicon bronze, or copper.

Kentucky Weather Requirements

Your deck or patio needs to be built to withstand some of Kentucky's extreme weather conditions, which include winds up to 90mph and heavy loads of snow. In technical terms, this means that your deck or patio must be built solidly enough to withstand 40 pounds per square foot. If you don't know how to design this yourself, you may need to hire a contractor to help you out.

Securing Your Deck

The final element to think about is how your deck will support itself. All decks in Kentucky must be either fastened to a permanent structure using bolts or lag screws, or be fully self-supporting.

The points above should provide you with all the information you need to get started on your deck or patio project. For more detailed information, Kentucky's current Residential Building Code (approved in 2007) is available on the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction site.

About the Author:  Joe Hayden is the Team Owner and Manager of the - Your Louisville Real Estate Experts!

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