What I'm Seeing Now

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How Not To Support A Deck

This "GORGEOUS INSIDE AND OUT!" house is a flip and the seller has stated firmly that he had "done so much to the house [he] won't fix anything found on the home inspection."  To me, that's like painting yourself into a corner.  DO YOU WANT TO SELL THE HOUSE?  But I digress.

There were a few things I had to mention to my clients!  Well, many "few!"  For example, this post shows one example of how not to support a deck.

On this house, the flipper retained the original posts, joists and ledger beam (the board attached to the house) and added the rest in new lumber.  That's usually a huge mistake.  Codes and requirement change!

Depending on where you live, there are various ways that local jurisdictional authorities want to see decks founded.

The two most important things that create structure for a deck are (1) how the posts are founded and (2) the deck's attachment to the house.  Codes on both of those things, everywhere I know anyway, are very specific.  AND CHANGE ALL THE TIME!

In my county, where this house is located, either the far left on the left diagram or the third from the left on the above diagram is approved.  My decks, for which I pulled a county permit to construct, are founded like the latter.

The bottom of the hole must be 24" deep and the posts no smaller than 6x6", pressure treated for ground contact.  There is no deviation allowed for either of those things.

I can assure you that when the bottom of a post is damaged or rotting and has to be replaced, that this is NOT an appropriate way to do it!

Can you see how the post is resting on a piece of 2x6" plank, which apparently began sinking.

So, what to do about the sinking?

Do you see the creative addition below?  Yes, that is apparently an aid.  Remember, this flipper said he has done enough and will do no more to this house!

Here is his solution to the sinking! Yep, it's nailed too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While impressively strong, HAD THIS FLIPPER BOTHERED TO GET A PERMIT FOR ANYTHING THAT HE DID TO THIS HOUSE, this may not have slipped by the county's attention.

There were so many things on this deck that are incorrect I won't bother to mention them all.

Suffice it to say that I would not go up the staircase off photo to the left...

 

My recommendation:  my clients, and their agent, had been all around the outside of this house twice before making their offer.  This was never noticed!  You might want to consider getting a home inspector even when the house is advertised as "gorgeous inside and out."  Just a thought...

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 34 commentsJay Markanich • April 15 2011 06:40AM

Comments

Even I know this was wrong tell me did it sell 'as is' and if so did the lending institution let it pass?

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 9 years ago

Morning Jay, yep I've seen this type of work. The owner is so proud of that work his/her pride gets in the way of saying they are wrong.

They should repair the deck to the simple "standards of deck footings" a few dollars and one day will take care of it.

Best of luck.

Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 9 years ago

Jay, it's hard to believe they didn't see that when walking around the house, before making an offer!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 9 years ago

They haven't gotten involved yet James, and after our inspection may not!

Clint - agreed, but this guy won't do anything more!  Can I interest you in a nearly new deck?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks for showing them how to do it right Jay.

cheers

Nor

Posted by Nor Yeretsian, Envoy Capitol Realty Inc., Brokerage Toronto (Envoy Capitol Realty Inc.) over 9 years ago

Laura - I think they thought it was okay!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Well, Nor, the information on how to do this properly is out there and specific and available to any bona fide contractor.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I predict that the seller will do a LOT more, or take a real haircut on his flip.

wow.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

Jay - We both know the reality of many flips.  Too bad this one isn't willing to make more repairs; something tells me he'll change his mind when he sees his investment waving goodbye.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 9 years ago

Very impressive "POST" Jay! Thanks.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) over 9 years ago

Good morning Jay!

Hard to understand how an agent or even a buyer could miss this huge issue?!!! Interesting enough, I just made this recommendation to a client of mine: to have a property inspected before putting an offer! Sometimes, it is better to know what one walks into! Great post!

Posted by Lydie Ouellet Dickinson, Realtor (Realty Executives Tri County, Bellingham MA) over 9 years ago

When you read every year about deck collapses and serious injury/death, an elevated deck like this one deserves all the attention it can get.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 9 years ago

Nice graphic Jay and a good post subject. I see problem deck builds very often, even ones that are not amateur jobs.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Good primer on footings. You could have waited for the balcony to come to you. :)

Steve

Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 9 years ago

Oh no, I can't believe that.  It's quite funny and sad at the same time.  I guess if he won't do any more work, he'll need to reduce the price so they can get a new deck.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I think that we inspectors agree that bad decks are a really common problem all over. The code guys put their blinders on I think.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mike - this was one of a hundred things on this report.  He will have to get realistic if he wants to ever sell this house.

John - like I said to Mike above, he is unrealistic if he hopes to sell this house in this condition.

Bob - so I get a sense that you are playing with a word?

Lydie - that would be a good idea, but not done very often around here!

Bliz - I had that discussion with my client today as we stood under a deck very inadequately attached to the house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Robert - with so much info out there, even the DIY sites, you'd think a few guys would get it right.

Steve - and that may not have been a very long wait!  I wouldn't go up the stairs - the stringers were all three toe nailed from the bottom at the top of each stringer.

Yes, Debbie, but he would have to lower the price also for a bunch, and I mean a BUNCH, of other things too!

No code guy here Steve.  But there were a dozen things on this deck that would have failed if there had been one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I had a house a few weeks back that was gorgeous inside and out. Not a permit pulled for any of the work. Do you think I found problems?

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Well, let's see.  Is the word gorgeous a dead give away?  Jim, I'm getting to the point where if it's a flip I want to charge an additional $100 for the time factor involved!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hey Jay,

Look on the bright side, the flippers keep us busy, very busy.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

From an engineering perspective, attaching the deck to the house for structural support is destined for failure from the inherent stress delta of supporting half the deck with posts exposed to the ambient weather and the other half encased within the thermal envelope of the building.  The dimensional expansion/contraction changes from temperature and moisture will tear that deck apart.  Its no mystery why there are so many deck collapses every year.

Home owners should get their deck inspected annually, even if it is built to code.  The code allows for significant wear. 

Most State and Professional Organization Home Inspector Standards of Practice include a definition for "Safety" which is dependent upon the opinion of the inspector. 

In addition to the wonderful points you made, in my opinion, the most significant is the "safety" opinion from the home inspector.

Posted by Jim Mushinsky (Centsable Inspection) over 9 years ago

So sounds like "Flipper" didn't necessarily know what he was doing, or talking about.  You keep mentioning "other" repairs like this not even on the deck.

Yipes!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Eric - that they do.  And the fact that mortgage foreclosures are the highest since Carter!  Well, actually higher!

Fer sher Jim!  Safety is one of our biggest worries and should be prominent in a home inspection.  They changed the codes here in 2002 to require ledgers to be attached every 8" with through bolts, in a W pattern, with a build-up of the rim joist from the inside with an additional pressure-treated two by...  No more lags.  Since then, not one of those has collapsed or come off the wall.

There were a bunch Jeremy.  They will be sprinkled about in the next few posts.  I will have to make them sound unique because all coming from one place can seem boring!  The blog fodder from my last two flips (2 in 2 days) can take up a couple of weeks.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I think that even I would have noticed that one!  And you're right.  I'm gorgeous inside and out is an invitation!  I'm wondering what other blog fodder you found in this place.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

The things flippers will try to get away with..sheesh.

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I saw the comment above and, while not wild about flippers, most decks I see that are messed up are done by legit contactors with code inspectors looking the other way.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Truth be told, Pat, many posts worth!

Vince - I wonder if they is the scourge nationwide that they are here?

True, Steve, but no inspector looked at this one before I did!  They pulled no permits.  My clients ran from the place when their repair addendum, including a request to see permits, was rejected.  The realtor emailed me today to say that the flipper put the house back on the market for $15K more!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Congratulations. This post is now featured on "The Law Of The Land." :)

Steve

Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 9 years ago

Thank you Steve!  Interestingly, this flipper rejected the amendment to the sales contract my clients submitted and took the house off the market.  Then, after the prescribed time, put it back on the market as if it was newly there, for $15K more money!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

No no no,  Please say it ain't so.  That's one nasty 'repair' job.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Ain't that a cute little baby Reubs?  And the stairs were so frightful, each stringer toe nailed at the end directly from the bottom with one nail (!), that I wouldn't go up them!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

In our little corner of the world...the city inspector won't be allowing you to put that post in the hole without several inspections....and while the DIY folks of the world may find this annoying....better safe than sorry !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Well, S&D, they won't here either.  Why would this Flipper call the county inspector!?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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