Greg Deans doesn't mind calling his company's latest deck “a jaw-dropping masterpiece.” The second-floor deck by Decks With Style, in Fairfax Station, Va., features a chimney, Fiberon ipe planks, and overhead framing supporting an eight-sided roof. Elsewhere such plum deck jobs are decidedly harder to come by. Morris Katz, owner of American Deck Co., in Brookfield, Conn., says that $80,000 or $90,000 decks “with all composite materials, pergolas, hot tubs, gazebos, lattice, and hidden fasteners” were far more common when Connecticut homeowners had equity in their homes and money in their pockets. Buyers are still out there, Katz says, but the product they would want “isn't as large or as fancy” as it would have been in 2006 or 2007, the market's high point.
SMART BUYERS These days, says Gary Marsh, whose eloquent radius decks (see examples at http://garymarsh design.com) are well known in the San Francisco Bay area, clients look for “a good, straightforward, functional deck.” That may mean fewer curves or none at all. Many deck builders would agree with James Parascand, owner of Outdoor Escapes, in Locust Grove, Va., who says, “People care more about price than anything right now.” Even so, Outdoor Escapes builds more gazebos and other features that put part of the deck under a roof.
SHOESTRING BUDGETS Brian Altmann, owner of DBS Remodel, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., says that 20 years ago, the decks his company built were “a lot of basic, standard stuff.” Now, he says, thanks to the huge number of different materials available to deck builders, what people want is “a little bit more elaborate.” For instance, almost everything that DBS built back then was made of pressure-treated pine. Now, Altmann guesses that maybe just 3% of clients request a pressure-treated deck. But Katz points out that in his market, pressure-treated pine is coming back. The reason: price.