Decks add value, says Indianapolis expert

Decks add value, says Indianapolis expert

After 30 years as a marketing executive, Michael Hofbauer's career changed gears in 2003 when his rental property tenant, John Hingle, made an offer he couldn't refuse: sharing the helm of Hingle's family deck-building business following his father's retirement.

"He said he liked to build, not sell," Hofbauer says. "So now, I do all the selling and he does all the building."

We talked to Hofbauer, who is co-owner of The Backyard Co. in Fishers, about adding a deck to a home.

Why should I consider adding a deck or porch to my home? "To make the outdoors more enjoyable. It adds a space to entertain, to cook and to spend more time outside. And, it definitely adds to a home's resale value. With a porch, people can enjoy being outside more with added shade, without being rained on or exposed to bugs."

What's the average price for a new deck or porch? "Depending on size, material and features, a deck's price can range from $3,000 to $30,000, with an average price of $4,000 to $6,000 for a deck in the 300-square-foot range. A porch usually costs between $10,000 and $25,000, with an average size of 225 square feet. The most common material is pressure-treated lumber due to it's lower cost. Composite materials cost about 60 percent more than wood. We provide free estimates and scale drawings. We don't have a set warranty period - we do business the old-fashioned way: if there's a problem, give us a call and we'll fix it."

What do I need to do to maintain my deck or porch? "Building with composite materials eliminates the need to stain or reseal, but manufacturers recommend cleaning it twice a year. Cleaning is as simple as spraying the deck with deck-cleaning solution, letting it soak for 20 minutes and rinsing it off with a hose. For wooden decks in shaded areas, you'll probably have to stain and reseal every four to five years. If it's exposed to frequent sunlight, it will require more frequent staining and sealing, maybe every two years. We don't do staining or sealing, but we'll refer companies. We recommend hiring professionals because they do better work. If customers want to do it themselves, I'll recommend products and give tips."

Do I need a building permit for a new deck or porch? "We take care of all the permitting. Every locality is different - some require permits and some don't. The cost varies from $40 to $300, which is added to the final invoice. Permits can take anywhere from one to 14 days, depending on the locality and how busy the permit offices are."

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