Balcony/Deck Construction Stories and Recommendations

We live in a two-story house on the west side of the street on a hill and are considering building a balcony/deck off our living room on the second floor- view side. So many people seem to have these balconies around us, but I don't see them getting much use (privacy? weather?), so that gives me pause. I have also heard a balcony can make the lower level of the house quite dark. 

Does anyone have any experience making the decision about installing a balcony like this that they could share? If you loved the person you went with for design or construction, we would also appreciate recommendations.     

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I love my deck and I am glad I have it, but I don't use it much. Too much glare for a book or a laptop. If I have a conversation with someone I have to assume that the neighbors are listening. But I love to step out with a cup of tea and watch the grass grow or listen to the crickets. And it is a good place for a messy project. You may want to consider an aluminum deck, because of fire danger. Embers that sit on a flat deck are more dangerous than other embers. 

We have had balconies or decks off the bedroom of the last three or four houses we have lived in. We never used them. We found ourselves constantly using outdoor space that flowed off of the LR, DR or kitchen. Never the bedroom -- too much trouble carrying food/drink up the stairs and too bright for a laptop.

And yes, one of them did make the room below it dark.

Wild and crazy balcony thought:

Many years ago I knew an old lady in Germany who had a wonderful balcony with a glass-brick floor.  During the summer, she took her naps on top of the balcony.  In fall and spring, when it was a bit chilly but not cold, she would nap on the sun-warmed, sheltered patio beneath the balcony.  There were glass doors out to the patio, and thanks to the glass bricks the room below lost very little light.  i believe the framework for the balcony was metal.

New glass bricks aren't cheap but you can buy salvaged ones, or maybe use heavy sheet glass.  The glass will get scratched up, but you can ameliorate this by starting with sand-blasted glass.

We have a glassed-roof awning over our north-facing deck doors, which are also glass.  The awning is one of the nicest aspects of our house.  If our house had two stories, I'd love to have a glass-floored balcony!

I think it's so wonderful to be able to sit outside even if only for a few minutes, to look at gardens or trees, to just get some air. (although right not, that's not a good idea!).   Our deck makes our house special.   We worked with Ken Winfield Construction.   Ken is not cheap BUT you need a first-class job for safety AND you will want to get a permit from the city.   That's what may jack up the cost.  Please don't do this under the table---it can be dangerous.  

We live in Montclair, but closer to town. Our deck is a wrap around one from all the public spaces of the house. Not only we use it all the time, but visually it becomes an extension of all the rooms and it makes it look bigger.

We have been trying to find solutions to lighten the lower floor, that yes, it seems too dark. That idea of the glass brick, that someone in this chat mention seems great. I'm a Realtor and have seen so many houses around, with decks, I have never seen a glass one, but I'm sure there is a solution. Go for the deck if you have the money to spend and it adds value to your property, more now that our outdoors have become essential in our lives.