The challenge on almost every job, particularly in today’s economy when everyone is struggling to keep costs down, is to maintain quality without breaking the budget. However, building affordably is not something we as an industry are very good at. There is a wide perception that you can build well, or you can build inexpensively, but you can’t do both.

Building codes can help; though, as many JLC readers understand, code is not a prescription for quality, per se. As we will learn in this presentation, building codes for decks have evolved to offer a more flexible "cookbook" of options. Understanding those options will help you chart where you can and can’t cut costs.

Featured Speakers

Joining us for this Building Session is longtime contributor to JLC and JLC's Professional Deck Builder, Glenn Mathewson. Glenn set down his tool bags as a deck builder and remodeler in 2005 to serve as a building inspector for Westminster, Colo., until 2018. He began teaching residential codes in 2007 and started in 2012 (see "Essential Resources," above). Glenn kicks off the discussion by showing us how to navigate the codes to make lumber-sizing decisions that can save money on a lumber package without compromising strength. He then gives us a number of structural design options that offer significant cost savings while providing good value.

Also joining the discussion is John Moss, founder of RailFX. Moss started out building houses and later worked on the wholesale side of the building materials business. In 2015, he developed a full-featured cable railing system to strengthen his in-field cable sales. This launched RailFX, which was eventually acquired by Prime Source; today, he continues to oversee new product development. In his presentation, John weighs in to show us how to cost-effectively install cable rail. While we don't typically associate cable rail with affordability - it is, after all, often an "upsell" - there are ways to minimize the number of cable connections to keep the cost down. And by keeping the deck simple, it is often possible to add cable rail, which is a popular upgrade, and still remain within the customer's budget.

Special thanks. The editors and producers of JLC's Building Sessions offer our thanks to RailFX for making this presentation possible.