Modifying Automatic Deck Framing

Reference Number: KB-01245
Last Modified: September 8, 2017

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier


I need to modify the automatic deck framing that Chief Architect created automatically in my plan. What are my options?

Deck Framing


Chief Architect's Automatic Deck Framing is a fast way to generate your decks' posts, beams, joists and planking. You can then modify any of these framing members as needed. In this example, the automatic deck framing interferes with the view from a walkout basement in a simple rectangular plan, so we will modify the posts and beams to better suit the house plan.

Note: Chief Architect is not an engineering program and will not calculate loads or other important structural considerations. Always have your designs approved by a licensed engineer before building.

To create the basic plan

  1. Select File> New Plan to open a new, blank plan.

  2. Select Build> Wall> Straight Exterior Wall and draw four walls to enclose a rectangular room. In this example, the structure measure 30' x 45'.

  3. Select Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter to create terrain.

  4. Select the Terrain Perimeter you just created and click the Open Object  edit button to open the Terrain Specification Dialog.

  5. On the General panel of the Terrain Specification dialog uncheck Automatic next to Building Pad and change the Subfloor Height Above Terrain to 108" and then click OK.

  6. Select Build> Floor > Build Foundation from the menu.

    • For a walkout basement, choose Walls with Footings as the Foundation Type and specify a wall height sufficient for a full height basement.

    • In this example, a Minimum Height of 101 1/2" is used for the Foundation's Stem Walls.

For more information about creating a walkout basement in sloping terrain, see the Related Articles section below.

To use automatic deck framing

By default the program will generate Automatic Deck Framing whenever a new Deck room is created or modified. Once the Deck room is defined and the framing built, the room's Automatic Deck Framing needs to be turned off so that it can be modifiedwithout being rebuilt.

  1. Go Up One Floor to Floor 1, select Build> Railing and Deck> Straight Deck Railing and draw railings to enclose one or more Deck rooms attached to the main house. 

    Note: If a Deck is drawn on Floor 1 and a foundation is present, the deck framing will be drawn on Floor 0. If no Floor 0 is present, the deck framing will be created on Floor 1.

  2. Click the Select Objects button, then click in an empty space in the Deck room to select it.

  3. Click the Open Object edit button to open the Room Specification dialog.

  4. On the Deck panel uncheck Automatically regenerate deck framing and click OK.

To replace a beam

  1. Go Down One Floor to Floor 0.

  2. In order to edit deck framing, we must be able to see it. Use the Active Layer Set Control drop-down to switch to the Framing Set.

  3. Click the Select Objects button, then click on the beam that runs under the Deck room that has Automatic Deck Framing turned off.

  4. This beam is placed under the deck joists and will interfere with the walkout basement. With the beam selected, click the Delete edit button or press the Delete key on your keyboard.

  5. We can now modify the deck's rim joist to replace the deleted beam. Select this framing member and click the Open Object edit button.

  6. On the General panel of the Framing Specification dialog:

    • Change the Depth to 15 1/2".

    • Change the Width to 5 1/2".

    • Change the Type to "Glulam".

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.

    • The new beam is resized concentrically from the centerline outward, so it will have to be moved to compensate for this change.

  7. To do this, click the Transform/Replicate Object edit button while the beam is still selected.

    In the Transform/Replicate Object dialog:

    • Check the box beside Move.

    • In the Y Delta text field, type 2".

    • Click OK to close the dialog and move the beam.

To edit posts and footings

Some of the posts and footings block the view from the walk-out basement windows. The problem posts can be removed and those remaining can be moved and resized to bear the load above.

  1. Click the Select Objects button, then click on one of the posts to select it.

    • Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on another post to add it to the selection set.

    • Continue holding down the Shift key and selecting as many additional posts as you wish.

  2. With the posts selected as a group, click the Delete edit button.

  3. Repeat step 1 and 2 for any footings that need to be removed.

  4. Shift-select the remaining posts under the new beam and click the Open Object edit button.

  5. On the General panel of the Framing Specification (Deck Post) dialog:

    • Lock the Bottom Height.

    • Specify the Top Height as -8", which in this example is the Bottom Height of the beam noted above.

    • Specify both of the Post Width values as 5 1/2".

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.

      Note: You may have to recenter the resized posts on to their footings.

  6. The resized posts and their footings now need to be moved so they are positioned under the Glulam beam. The Transform/Replicate Object edit tool can be used for this purpose:

    • Select Build> Framing> Post from the menu and then hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and draw a rectangular selection marquee around the resized posts.

    • With the posts selected, click the Transform/Replicate Object edit button.

    • In the Transform/Replicate Object dialog, check the box beside Move. In this example, a Y Delta value of -15" is used. Enter the desired value and click OK to close the dialog and move the selected objects.

    • Select Build> Slab> Slab from the menu, draw a marquee around the resized slabs' footings and move these items in the same way.

To trim the joists' length

Instead of bearing on the original beam, the joists will now attach to the edited rim joist using joist hangers. At this point, they are still sized to meet the rim joist before it was resized and need to be shortened.

  1. Select the Glulam beam and click the Trim Object(s) edit button.

  2. Click and drag a temporary line, or fence, that runs through the joists where they extend into the beam.

  3. When you release the mouse button, the ends of the joists will be trimmed back to the inside edge of the beam.

  4. When you are finished, you can select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Camera to see the results.