The PMC Clubhouse had an accessibility problem. The back door opened three feet above the ground and the front entrance had a precariously balanced set of steel stairs and some very uneven terrain right outside. Tracking in dirt and sand has always been a problem, and we never really hung out outside much since there wasn’t much to the yard. It was time for a deck.

Using a tape measure and scratching into the ground with my shoe, I felt out various possible sizes. I settled on 12′ square since it provided ample space while keeping my shopping list and design needs simple.

Trimble SketchUp (previously Google SketchUp) is instrumental in planning any kind of building project. I scoured the internet for deck building tips and methods and got to work drawing the deck frame. SketchUp gives you the liberty to work out your mistakes before you ever cut or even buy a single board. I was able to tweak my design so I could use 2x8s for most of the joists and for the beams, only using 2x10s for the outside border. This saved a decent amount of money. I designed some 45-degree 2×4 cross-braces that required me to tweak the location of the corner posts. It all worked out perfectly and the notching and angle cut on the beams add a nice look to the final product. I also wanted a wider set of stairs come out the side rather than the front. This gives us more room to get by with the trucks and ATVs and helps define the little “yard” area in front of the trailer. The metal stairs get reused for the back door.

SketchUp also helps you plan your shopping list for Menards. I knew the exact number of boards I would need and was able to budget the project down to the penny.

The framing was done over the course of a day with a little help from Jake. The planks and stairs were added afterwards over a weekend. The planks took much longer than I expected. I was careful to pre-drill each hole and measured each deck plank at both ends and the center before screwing them down, so each board took a fair amount of time, a lot of moving around, and multiple tools to install. In the end, it was worth it: the deck turned out exactly like the SketchUp model and is dead level and rock solid. I’m really happy with the final result. This will help keep the trailer a little cleaner and we have a nice spot to sit outside. All we need now is a railing.