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Can I Convert My Deck into Living Space?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Diane in Illinois who needs some extra storage space at her money pit. How can we help you today?

    DIANE: Well, I have a deck off of our master bedroom. And it’s a 12×12 deck and I want to turn it into a walk-in closet. And I want to bring my washer and dryer from the basement upstairs and put it into that closet.

    TOM: Well, this sounds like a good project, Diane, but I have to tell you that generally, when people try to convert a deck into a finished room – I’ve seen it done many, many times, especially in the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector – it just doesn’t work, for a lot of reasons.

    And I can understand that you want it to flow nicely into the house and all of that but you’re really talking about an addition here. And if you’re going to build an addition, you typically were going to build it different than a deck. What I would recommend is that even though this is a small project, it’s a complicated project. Because not only do you want a closet, you also want laundry there.

    I think this is a great opportunity for you to consult with an architect because you have a lot to do to get this done correctly. And you also don’t want to make it look like it’s sort of slapped on the outside of your house because it’s going to detract from your home value.

    But every single time I’ve seen somebody try to take a deck and convert it into living space, it’s never worked out too well. It might be that you can preserve some of the framing and maybe incorporate it in there but it’s going to now be living space. It’s going to have to be heated, it’s going to have to be cooled, it’s going to have to have wiring, it’s going to have to have plumbing. It’s an addition; it’s no longer going to be in a deck. So while that space might fit well for it, starting with the existing deck doesn’t always make the most sense, OK?

    DIANE: OK. So what would – we would have to just tear that deck down and start over or …?

    TOM: You may. But that’s why I say – let’s not speculate on this and let’s not make a wrong step. This is a type of project where you are well advised to hire an architect. It’s not going to be an expensive consulting fee because it’s a small project. But it’s really smart to do that in this situation because you’ll find out what you can save and what you have to tear down. You won’t make a costly mistake.

    DIANE: OK. I didn’t want anything falling off the house and tearing the roof apart. And I didn’t want to have to do all of that, so I appreciate your advice.

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