You have decided you would like an outside space, either a screen room, or sunroom. You have an existing deck and would like to build on the deck. Here are the things you need to be prepared for when considering costs.
Your estimator is going to come out and visit with you about your dreams and aspirations for this space. Be prepared. Have an idea or pictures of the space you are envisioning along with the budget. He's going to take measurements of the outside space and do a visual inspection of the space. He may need to go inside the house if electrical is needed. He will look at footings, or concrete and look at the overall entrance for equipment to get to the back yard. What type of ladders he will need or a lift. Estimates take some time to do. There are a lot of things to consider. Good contractors aren't just estimating 1 job they may have 50 on their desk. To be able to give your estimate the attention it needs, give him time to complete it. You want a complete estimate with everything you wanted. The last thing you want is something left out that you thought was included. Everything should be listed in the estimate.
1) Decks are built with different footings than what is needed for your new outside space. Depending on the size of the room, you may need to add more footings, or replace completely. Footings are needed to ensure the room does not move. The slightest movement can cause doors and windows not to open and close properly. If a permit was NOT pulled at the time the deck was built, the inspector may want the footings dug out so he can inspect. Protect yourself and ensure your footings can support your new structure.
2) Older decks may not meet current code and would need to be updated. Best recommendation is to replace it. Many try to use the existing deck, but if you are investing $25K to $60k, we believe the homeowner would want a new deck to match their new room, so the room doesn't outlast the deck. Protect yourself and build it right.
3) Fall Protection. No matter what anyone says you have to have fall protection. If you are 30 inches above grade you need fall protection. However at 24" an adult can still get hurt. Screenrooms will need railing, sunrooms will need knee wall that could be glass for view also. Protect yourself and do it right.
4) PERMIT The permit process is designed to protect the home owner. Not everyone agrees with the requirements but it is designed to protect you. Poor workmanship can detected during the process. It can also help with future projects. Protect yourself and get a permit.
5) Pricing. Aluminum sunrooms are more expensive than a wood structure. They are designed to last, its a quick and easy process to install. A sunroom is full glass, and room addition with wood, siding and few windows.
6) Compare Pricing. You hear this from all time, get more than 1 estimate when you start your new project. This is a huge issue with contractors. High end builders aren't buying their material from a big box lumber yard. And if they are, their prices and end product should match. You have to be comfortable with your contractor and trust them. You have a number in your head that you know will work in your budget. Everyone does.
Let's say you want a 3 season room 20 x 12 and need a new deck and your budget is $10k. Letting your contractor know that number helps you and us. We don't want to waste your time or ours. Estimating is a long process. A good contractor doesn't have 1 estimate. If you know that number, share it. It is easier on everyone. This is a small community. Everyone knows each other most of the time. Sharing who you are getting estimates from is important to us. We are a manufacturer and sell to other contractors. Cheaper is not always better. If one estimate comes in $10,000 higher, something isn't right. or other charges will add up to $10,000 later in the process. This has happened over and over. Our quote was $55,000 their quote $45,000 they got the job but change orders added up to the $55,000. We have been doing this long enough to know what needs to be done and the costs associated with it. Protect yourself and understand if its too good to be true than it is.
7) Why a sunroom? Why not a room addition? We run into this all the time, customers want an outside space, not one that is like sitting in your living room. We end up building a screen room or sunroom next to the "four season room". A true sunroom is glass. A room addition is just like every other room in your house. Wood, siding, drywall, and a few windows. Protect yourself and determine what the purpose of the room is. You need to find a picture of the space you are envisioning and work from there within your budget.
8) FLOATING SLABS. Everyday someone calls and asks if we can build on their slab and the answer is NO. Floating slabs move, our screen rooms have a small allowance for movement but it can still damage the uprights. Movement would make cause problems with opening and closing windows and doors. You need a trench footing that built according to code for your new outside space. or space available built a deck.
9) FINAL WORDS. The foundation of your project is the most important part. If needing to save money, this isn't the place to take it from. We are a modular builder and everything we do we can be built in phases. Foundation, roof, and walls. We can upgrade a screen room to 3 season room with 4 track windows, later as budget allows. Maybe the budget only allows for foundation and roof. Everything begins with a budget.
The foundation is the same for any type of room, screen room, sunroom, etc. You have different options for your roof but it is the same options for any type of room. Finishes vary in price, Interior finishes vary in prices, Walls vary in prices. Decide on a budget. Work with a contractor that you can trust. Local is always better. Long term business are always better. Visit their business, look at their product. You have to be comfortable with your contractor.