I am currently building a deck on a budget, and discovered an excellent web based application to help at http://www.blocklayer.com/deckcalculator.aspx. I tried a couple of these calculators but this one stood out by far. The range of details you can enter is extensive, including things such as the distance between joists, whether the stumps are round or square and how thick the decking board is. The most impressive thing about this deck calculator is that as you change details and hit calculate, it creates technical drawings of your deck. With this feature you can you can immediately see how a particular choice, such as housing a bearer into a stump, will change the design. The drawings are very clear with a view from directly above the deck and with a cross-sectional view.
The other great feature is that a list of timber and required quantities is calculated for you. This can help you build a deck on a budget by ensuring that you get the materials you need while minimizing excess. Though some wastage is expected with any building project, it can be greatly reduced by knowing exactly what you need to order. The calculator even allows you to nominate a percentage of expected waste.
You can use the list of materials generated by calculator with the online catalogs of large hardware retailers. This is where it really helps you build a deck on a budget because you can compare the prices of different materials. For example, you can see how much more it will cost to use treated pine or some other decking material. You can also compare prices across different online retailers.
The deck calculator also helps you work out how many fixings such as bolts and nails are needed by providing a list of connections. For example, it tells you how many times a bearer will connect to a stump, and with this knowledge you just need to know the kind of fixings you will use for each connection.
Of course, it is handy to shop around at local timber yards who are often not online. The deck calculator allows you to enter the negotiations with a list of required materials and, with a little research, the knowledge of what it would cost through the online retailers.
If you are building a deck on a budget, the deck calculator is a great tool.