Midrange projects continue to have a higher return than upscale ones, report finds

Homeowner return on investment for most remodeling projects is down from last year, and decks are no exception, according to the “Cost vs. Value Report 2008-09” from Remodeling, a sister magazine of Professional Deck Builder. Still, the news is better than many expected. Nationally, the average percentage of a deck’s cost that a homeowner can expect to recoup on resale is only between 3 and 4 percentage points lower than it was in 2007 — much less of a shock than the stock market has given us all this year. And compared with returns on other remodeling projects, adding a deck continues to be one of the best ways to increase the value of a home.

Two of the three representative decks in this year’s report (see chart) are the same as those reported on last year — a midrange pressure-treated-wood deck and a midrange composite deck — though the composite project was reclassified this year from “upscale” to “midrange.” Its specifications, however, haven’t changed. Like last year, both of these decks measure 16 feet by 20 feet and have a pressure-treated substructure supported by 4x4 posts on concrete piers. Features include a built-in bench, a planter, and a railing system — all of which match the decking — and stairs with three steps to grade. Both decks have a simple linear pattern. The only difference between them is the decking material used.

New to this year’s report is a third deck (see chart) — an upscale composite deck with more than twice the budget of the midrange version, allowing for details to complement a home’s architectural style. It has all the features of the midrange composite deck, plus some significant upgrades. For example, one step down from a corner of the 16-foot-by-20-foot structure is a second platform, which is 10 feet in diameter and six-sided, with stairs three steps to grade. Also, the perimeter joists and the 4x4 posts are trimmed with composite materials that match the decking. A bench and a planter are built along one 16-foot side; along the remaining sides is a composite railing system that includes decorative balusters, post caps, and lighting.

As is the case for most of the projects in the report that have midrange and upscale versions, the average percentage of value recouped for a deck is higher in the midrange category than in the upscale group, though the extent of that difference varies regionally.

The entire report is available at www.remodeling.hw.net/2008/costvsvalue/national.aspx. A new feature of the Web site allows users to look at the costs and values of the three deck projects in 80 different cities, as well as compare this year’s city or regional results with last year’s. — Laurie Elden

2009 Shows & Events

March 10–11

Deck & Railing University

Vinyl Fence, Deck and Railing Manufacturers Association

Tulsa, Okla.



March 11–12

Midwest Builders Show

Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago

Rosemont, Ill.



March 18–21

Hearth, Patio & Barbeque Expo

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Reno, Nev.



October 27–30

DeckExpo 2009

Co-located with the Remodeling Show

Hanley Wood Exhibitions*




*Hanley Wood Exhibitions is owned by Hanley Wood, which also owns Professional Deck Builder.