I was fooling around online, and I came across this desk estimator application for a smartphone. You just download the app, punch in all of the measurements and material requirements, including how much materials cost wherever you live, and it spits out your total cost.
And there are some deck estimator applications and calculators that automatically tell you how much material you will need after answering just a few simple questions. Isn’t that cool? As a deck builder of 35 years spent creating outdoor living experiences for my Dallas, Collin and Rockwall county neighbors, I was really impressed.
But then I got to thinking. And I recounted countless situations in my mind where I noticed things that my wonderful clients did not take into account. In many situations, when I revealed what my deck building experience has taught me over the years, the homeowner was delightfully surprised by the estimate I gave him, and by the final cost of the job.
And I am also pretty sure that no deck estimation software or application will provide a guarantee like a professional deck builder will. Also, what happens if the software just decides to “tweak” your numbers because of some computer glitch? I don’t know about you, but I have seen computers and smartphones do some pretty strange things in my life. Basically, how do you know the numbers are right? Only a professional deck builder would know if the results of a nonhuman estimate are anywhere near close to correct.
Technology is great, do not get me wrong. And I have even downloaded some automated software for estimating deck costs myself. But I have also been building traditional decks, intricate pergolas, gorgeous gazebos, screened-in porches and above ground pool decks for most of my adult life. Simple jobs and incredibly extravagant works of art. I have literally “seen it all” in the deck building business.
And I can tell you, you can take 2 identical houses with identical backyards and similar owners, and even if they want matching decks, there are going to be several differences that need to be taken into account. The benefits of having a 35 year deck building veteran that lives and works in your area coming out to your house for a hands-on estimate are plentiful, and not to be underestimated (no pun intended).
Webster’s dictionary tells us that the word estimate, as a noun, is “an approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.” Approximate, not precise. And as a verb, estimate means “to roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.” Roughly, not exactly.
That is exactly what any type of non human deck estimator is good for – arriving at a rough or approximate number for cost or amount of materials needed. And not all deck estimator applications are free, so take that into account as well.