What I'm Seeing Now

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Comical Deck, But The Comedy Won't Last Long

There were so many things about this deck, I could call it a comical deck, but the comedy won't last long.

It is comical for two reasons:

1.   Flipper has apparently never built a deck.
2.   There was a final County inspection of the house with an Occupancy Permit.

Here are two examples of my problems with this deck:

Wonderfully erratic, the nails used for the decking are indoor nails.  Their pattern is haphazard.  This deck is less than one month old and already they are rusting.  As they rust, their attractive pattern is even more evident.  Also, as they rust they will damage the wood into which they are nailed, even though it is pressure treated.  This will eventually fall apart.  There were galvanized nails used elsewhere, but I guess they ran out.

The attachments and stairs are frightful.  The decking joists and beams are 2x6" stock.  The deck is about 3' high.  The exterior beams are doubled, but merely resting on, and toe-nailed into, the deck posts.  These exterior beams have been screwed into the perpendicular joists coming from behind and somewhat resting on top of the post.

That exterior stair stringer is not notched, to accommodate the weight of the person walking on the treat, and is toe-nailed into the beam.  The stair tread (the horizontal board you stand on) is attached on each side with one nail, two into a center stringer, and a few nails from the back.

There were many other things.  I don't want this to turn into a deck lesson, but it would be comical if not so dangerous.

AND THE WHOLE THING WAS APPROVED BY THE LOCAL JURISDICTIONAL AUTHORITY.

Should I contact them? 

My recommendation:  this deck could be offered by any home inspector association as a Continuing Education test deck to see if their new members could identify all the things wrong with it.  And yet the Flipper and the County seem to think it is okay.  It is not!  Home inspectors can identify for your clients when things are wrong.  Your inspector, however, might be a lone wolf...

 

 

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 23 commentsJay Markanich • March 21 2012 02:22AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay. And the new exterior wood will eat interior nails up in a jiffy. Oh, well. So much for guys and their nail guns...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 7 years ago

I stepped upon a deck the other day. . I had the feeling that I was on a trampoline..

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 7 years ago

Been there, seen it. Had a deck just a few days ago that was a similar mess. Weak railings, poorly built and weak stairs, lack of adequate support and on and on.... I have come to the point where I am happy when a house doesn't have a deck. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

I learn so much from your blog - I never would have noticed the things that you notice! Thanks for always educating us!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 7 years ago

Jay, a nice rust colored stain will cover most of those faults in the short run.  In the long run, well, let's say I don't expect there'll be any.  Thank you for the awareness!   

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay, I would inform the local authorities that "approved" it....that is scary stuff.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 7 years ago

I don't know what your code of ethics says about things like what you're describing but ethically I think you have no choice but report to cover your A$$.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Beware, beware - inspectors are not always right on what they sign off on.  I am surprised this "flipper" used pressure treated lumber, one point in his/her favor.  Great idea on this install being used as a training example - before another deck like this is approved!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Bolted my exterior beams to the 6x6 posts. Granted it is a second story deck and wanted to be safe rather than sorry. Also, used 'red-heads' the attach the deck to the house (poured concrete walls). Had plates set into the poured wall per code, but added the 'red-heads' for extra support.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 7 years ago

It will Michael.  All I can do at this point is observe and report.  What's the County going to do if I call?

Fernando - I once heard a realtor tell a client that a bouncy deck was made that way on purpose to be easy on the feet!  I couldn't believe it.  Correcting him immediately, he got upset, and oddly enough since, I have never heard from him again.  Hmmm...

Jim - this whole thing was such a disaster it makes me wonder if approval didn't come because of a bottle of something passed along in the process.

W&J - this deck could have been a CEU class all by itself.  It was a disaster, and I didn't want it to become the point of about 6 posts!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Never thought about that Kevin, but your out-of-the box solution is very good!  I will pass that along!    ;>)

Carol - as I said above, I wonder if there wasn't some inducement there.

James - my ethics code, and my personal ethics, say to observe and report.  I also did a whole lot of explaining while there.  I don't do it to cover myself as much as to cover my clients!

Lisa - oddly the house beside was very similar and had a similar deck done right.  It might be that the County was told that both decks were exactly the same and approved it over the phone, I don't know.  I am very bothered by it though.

Than - it was, until now, my understanding that through bolts were required here for that attachment.  But, hey, what do I know!?  I am married to a red head - does that count for anything?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

You could be right on that count, someone was certainly "sold a bill of goods" on this one though.  

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Jay, I think we as home inspectors should write a manual on decks and send to all the contractors and AHJ's. Then we should up we can say does this look like the manual?  Try again ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

This one was, as I say Lisa, comical.

Don - I send them links!  To the IRC, diagrams, etc.  They don't appreciate that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I agree Steven, hence the title!  The deck is only about 3' high, but still, that can be quite a fall.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay -- not comedic when the new owner falls through/off the deck and injures self.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

Our neighbor is building a deck with new steps.  I suggested my husband needs to advise him - he is an OLD SCHOOL framing contractor who knows how to do it RIGHT!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Wallace - deck stair codes are pretty specific.  There is a reason for that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, I think the whole "re-thinking" about decks that is going on with all the changes in installation requirements has been a long time coming and here is one that didn't follow even current rules---someone needs a spanking :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Good Day Jay, at least they won't have too far to fall ;-)

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Fer sher Charlie.  These were only a couple of things regarding that comical monster.

It's only about 3' high at the highest point Chris.  But that is plenty!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay- code inspectors should be required to take home inspection courses, they are too lax-ed with building standards and safety.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

You might be right Eric.  I had a CEU class with three local code inspectors who said they like us and love for us to call them (translation:  we miss a lot of stuff).

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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