What’s the Deck Height? Does Anyone Know?

For thousands of years, civilizations have been constructing buildings of various shapes and sizes. All throughout history, nearly every building ever built was first imagined on some sort of blueprint by an architect.

The earliest written work on the subject of architecture is titled, “De architectura” by the Roman architect Vitruvius, sometime early in the first century AD.

What is an Architect?

The definition of the word architect comes from the Latin word “architectura” which comes from the Greek word “arkhitekton.” Architeckton is composed of two parts, the first is, “who commands,” and the second part is, “mason, or builder.”

what is the deck height
I wonder if the earliest Greek temple blueprints included the deck height?

I’ve been fortunate to work on projects featuring some pretty outstanding architects. These people are some of the most intelligent, inspirational, and creative people I’ve ever met.

An Architect’s ability to work hand-in-hand with building owners to bring their dream into reality has been inspiring to watch.

To be able to play a tiny part in the team that carries projects from vision to reality has been a humbling experience for me personally.

That being said, I have one question that runs through my mind, almost on a daily basis.

“What’s the deck height?”

Now, I’m not talking about a new building. Any set of plans with a new steel or concrete structure will indeed have building sections and wall section pages.

These pages will clearly show the dimensions from finished floor to underside of deck above. Needless to say, these dimensions are crucial to the drywall contractors.

Important Information

From the moment we begin our first takeoff, the first question we run into is, “how high does this wall get build?” The type of projects that are almost always missing any mention of the height of the deck is a renovation inside an existing building.

Unfortunately, these types of projects make up a large percentage of the number of bids going out the door every day. Sure, you might be saying, “what’s the big deal?”

These types of projects are usually on the smaller side. The dollar values for these projects are nothing compared to the monster ground-up mega projects and high rises.

Why, Why, Why Not Include the Deck Height??

The fact is that the sheer number of projects which are renovating an old building is very large. One common theme seems to surround these jobs, and that’s a missing deck height.

I would put a very unscientific guess at just about 5% of renovation drawings include a note verifying the deck height for the new walls. It’s a common problem, and I have a few guesses as to why there’s no mention of a deck height.

It’s because someone needs to actually go inside the building with a laser or a tape measure and get the dimensions themselves.

deck height in commercial building
We can guess the deck height, or we could go measure for ourselves.
Or – here’s a crazy idea – the architect could include it on the drawings.

You can always reach out and ask the GC. After all, that’s what they’re for. But it makes me wonder why such a detailed and complete set of drawings showing every single square inch of the owner’s vision would be missing such an essential piece of information.

Literally, every other detail is meticulously drawn in and specified. From the grinding of the adhesive off the concrete after the removal of the vestibule carpet to the color of the doorstop going into the Janitor’s Closet.

Every detail is planned and clearly stated in the construction documents. Why not the deck height?

Does Anybody Care About the Deck Height Except Me??

I’ve asked the question directly to architects when bumping into them at local establishments. The answers always vary. If it’s just a liability issue, then I think we can do better as an industry.

The owner, architect, and GC all agree that change orders are something they try to avoid.

To build a project off approved plans and specs, without unnecessary change orders, everyone involved needs the most complete set of documents possible from the time the first bid is sent.

Let’s strive to improve project blueprints by gathering all the pertinent information about the project in writing and on the plans. It will result in more accurate bids, fewer questions, a better experience during construction, and a superior final product.

READ more about drywall industry basics –

The Many Benefits To Light Gauge Steel Studs

Basics Of Sheetrock Screws And Drywall Screws

What Is A Demising Wall?

Additional Resources –

The American Institute of Architecture Students – AIAS.org

AIA Contract Documents Library – AIA Contracts.org

The American Institute of Architects Conference – Conference on Architecture

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