When you decide to build a new deck structure and you reside in the city of Austin, there is a clear path forward, but you will certainly find curves along the way.
First off, good news. If your new deck is under 30″ tall, does not serve the front entry door, is un-attached to the house, a single level, and under 200 square feet, you will not need to embark on the curvy path of Austin permitting requirements. (But it still needs to meet code)
If your dream project has or needs any of these traits, please study this page to arm yourself with all the important info before moving forward.
First, the ugly.. some extra costs that you will incur on your project.
- Structural Engineering – Your project will require an engineers stamp before city approval can be obtained. Even prescribed (read standard) code designs can be rejected because, honestly, Austin has decided to just leave it up to 3rd parties to confirm that your project meets requirements. Even more so, the city now requires that even a 3rd party structural inspector sign off on foundations and framing. City inspectors just aren’t going to the trouble to verify that your deck is properly constructed, they are leaving it up to these 3rd parties, but probably for the best? It’s your family on the deck, you decide. Estimated Cost: $1000-3000
- Wildland-Urban Interface Zone (WUI) – Pay very close attention to this section. No nice way to put it. Your material costs are double in this zone and yeah, you may well be inside of it. (See Map Links Below) Wilderness. Urban. The best of both worlds has more hazards and that comes with extra fire protection requirements. Put another way, all of your materials are required to meet Class A fire resistance. Want Trex decking? Sorry, they don’t meet Class A. Want mid-grade Azek? No again. Lumber yard #1 southern pine, the gold standard? Sure, but it needs to have extra factory treatment and that means extra cost and a special order. Let’s just hope that we never need this extra fire resistance, but if you want a new deck in this zone, you will need to have it. (Even if you don’t need a permit)
- Large Trees – Any old growth trees over 19″ on the property? How many? This will call for a tree survey and tree review for impacts to the foundations and the trees. Estimated Cost: $600 – 800
- Hazardous Pipelines – Is your house within 200′ of a hazardous pipeline? I don’t know. You don’t know. Let’s find out. If you are, expect to require a fire survey. Good news? You probably aren’t. Estimated Cost: $Let’s move
- Erosion Hazard Zone – Living in these areas will require an EHZ review and another added cost for your project. Estimated Cost: Highly variable, engineering not necessarily required for a deck project, the city of Austin will help in determining the requirements.
- Septic Tanks – OSSF On. Site. Sewage. Facilities. If you have one, you will need to have a site review to make sure the new deck will not interfere with the existing facilities. Estimated Cost: $100 Austin Site Review
- 100 Year Flood Plain – If your home lies within this area, there will be a flood review required by the city of Austin.
- Historic District – A review will be required if your home is within a historic district, if you don’t know that you live in a historic district already, you probably don’t but it’s worth it to check before proceeding (the city of Austin will do so anyway)