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Q: I'd like to build a deck adjacent to my family room, 18 to 24 inches above grade. Do I have to attach the deck to the house, or can it be entirely self-supporting? I'm a little concerned that if I attach the deck, it might encourage rot.

— Gerard, Norfolk, MA

A: Tom Silva replies: There's no law that says decks have to be attached to a house, but there are a couple of good reasons for doing it that way. For one, it eliminates the need to dig a row of support piers alongside the house. It also lets you use the house to stabilize the deck and prevent it from wobbling.

If this were my project, I'd attach the deck to the house with a ledger board and use spacer blocks to hold it away from the house to allow air circulation. This way, you won't have to worry about rot.
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