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First State Building & Design
First State Building  & Design

Before you begin building a new deck or outdoor living space, there are a number of factors to consider. We asked Joe Oakes, president of First State Building & Design (FSBD), for his advice on how you should begin, the best materials to use and the choices you should make so you can enjoy your investment for years to come.  

The FSBD team is made up of eight craftsmen, two computer-aided design (CAD) designers, two field foremen and administrative staff members with more than 95 years of combined experience in building custom decks, gazebos, trellises, pergolas, pool houses, fire pits and outdoor kitchens. They understand that each project is unique, which is why they offer a tailored approach for every stage of design and construction.

As an expert in his field, we asked Oakes to answer some of the most pressing questions House & Home readers have about their outdoor projects.  

What is the first thing you should do while planning an outdoor living space?
Find the right firm. Work with a reputable company that has a solid portfolio, a local presence and a team of experienced designers and installers. This prevents the biggest issues homeowners run into, such as overextended budgets, delayed projects and poorly built decks. If you take the time to research a company, read their reviews and view photos of their finished projects, your experience will be as seamless as possible.

What are the most common materials used in building projects?
Our experience has shown that working with superior materials reduces the possibilities of quality issues down the road. Azek and TimberTech composite decking is one of the   most popular choices today. These high-performance materials are engineered to look like natural wood, in addition to resisting any rotting, splitting or warping. Outdoor living structures include pergolas, pavilions and sunrooms that incorporate PVC composite products. 

Natural stone is becoming one of the most popular building materials because it is one of the most lasting and durable investments you can make in your home. FSBD works with the leaders in hardscaping materials, including EP Henry, Brickform, Techo-Bloc and QuarryCut. 

What are the advantages of expanding your outdoor living space?
Many of our customers thank us for helping them to reconnect with their friends and families. Outdoor living spaces increase entertaining  space, offer areas to unwind and build unforgettable memories. They also offer one of the biggest returns on  your investment. Homes with inviting outdoor areas have tremendous curb appeal, boosting the value of their home while increasing the look of their neighborhood.

What is the process for a decking project?
It helps to have a good sense of how the homeowner wants their backyard to look. At our initial meeting, we always try to ask a customer how the space will be used. From there, we like to see the style that suits their taste before we start showing them different materials. 

All of our projects are done in-house, which means we work with our clients every step of the way. Our full-service approach includes 3D renderings, structural drawings, design areas and product recommendations that help our clients come to a final decision. Once our designs are complete, we   are flexible in working with our customers to hit their budget by value engineering the project to make the most of their space and money.

We keep our customers informed throughout the process. This includes every stage from the building permit being issued to materials being delivered, while the crews are working on site to the final inspection.

What other features can I add to an existing deck?
There are a number of ways to enhance your current deck or patio. Sunrooms, pergolas, pavilions, privacy walls and arbors are fantastic additions to any home. Many clients incorporate stone, unique deck board orientation and curving for bumpouts. Low-voltage lighting increases security while extending entertaining well into the night. A lot of homeowners are also looking to redo their existing   deck with low-maintenance materials. Building codes have changed since 25 or even 10 years ago, so we always try to remove the existing structure and build from scratch to ensure that the framework is solid and secure.  

Why should a homeowner choose First State Building & Design?
Founded in 2006, First State Building & Design is a family-owned company with a reputation for excellence. We specialize in creating and building custom decks, gazebos, patios, pools and outdoor living spaces throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware. We pride ourselves on maintaining excellent communication with our customers to keep them up-to-date on the status of their project at all times. From the initial consultation to the final walkthrough, our team members create a seamless client experience and a finished project that our customers will enjoy for years to come.

First State Building & Design
Wilmington, Del. | (302) 803-5082 | FSBD.co 

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 18, Issue 11 (May 2018). 
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