I can build a deck and make only 1500$ in three days or I can paint an exterior basic brick home with soffets and only facia for $ 2500 in a day and a half and work half as hard as building a deck. Go figure.
I love building decks but the competition and across the border workers kill me. If you had plans, wood on site, and constant supervision and had one Mexican that spoke English, you could build that same deck for $500 in cash and with 8 people and in one day.
I have done and implemented many short cuts to make my job more profitable and a few are using that Fast Set concrete, so I can set the posts and hang beams in two hours. I used to set posts and go home and come back to hang beams. This cut my hours per deck way down, then I invested in a compact nail gun, and considering a Hilti, stand up deck screw gun that has rapid fire. You can actually stand up and shoot screws. In Texas, we are seeing more and more Dek blocks being used in liew of digging holes and setting posts. I have been using these under strict protest, but all have turned out ok. I have been told by an old pro to dig a shallow hole and lay an unbroken bag of concrete in the hole and then set your dek block on that bag and you have an instant footing. Now up north, you have much more elaborate "footing" than we would ever need down here. We don't even know what frost line is. So, I forgot to tell that person that we dig a hold 24 inches deep, drop the posts and set the concrete, up north they have to dig a big wide hole, set that tube and mix bags of crete and set that dowel and set the hanger and wait three days, then hang beams, never down here. That process is boqoo dollars in labor too.
Three years ago, I increased my labor per square foot from three dollars to four, My resistance and drop in demand was unbelievable, but I did build strong bounce free decks and I never went for that 5/4 stuff and I stuck with 2x6's. Once that 5/4 dried, you almost have a spring board even on 16 OC joists. Quality does demand more than a platform on stilts, and that is what I strive for. People are learning and paying more, but with the extinction soon of PT wood, business will surely fall because too much price resistance to redwood and cedar. time will tell. I may have to rely completely on home painting which is less work and more money, so what is the deal? But, we all love doing something that stims the juices and deck building and arbor building does that with me.