What I'm Seeing Now

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Having A Rest

Decking should be secure, attaching one member to another in various forms of secure and strong ways that engineers have spent a lot of time thinking about, designing and manufacturing.  There are reasons for that!

Deck codes change all the time.  They do because, typically, there is an accident due to insufficient attachment, overload or just poor construction.  Then thinking changes and they decide to change the standards to include stronger, more or different stuff!

But, everything now, from top to bottom, is securely attached to something else.  Secure attachment does not include toe nails, or one member merely resting onto another, no matter how strong that supportive structure may be.

One thing decks are not made for is the HOT TUB.  Hot tubs are heavy! 

I understand that a hot tub that is 84"x84" can hold between 400 and 500 gallons.  If I remember my 7th grade science, a gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds.

A small fiberglass hot tub with jets can weigh 300 pounds or so.  A fancy one made for 6 or 8 people can weigh 1000 pounds, empty!

ADD IT UP!  HOT TUBS FULL OF WATER AND PEOPLE ARE VERY HEAVY! 

Let's say you have an average weight of 165 for each of 8 people in a full, large hot tub.  What's that? 

500 x 8.33 = 4165
plus 1000 pounds
plus 8 x 165 = 1320

I get 6485 pounds!  Wow, that's a ton of weight!

So to speak...

Scrambling under a deck, when I see various things merely resting on other things, and all the weight to boot, I get exercised!

Someone is asking for a problem!

Look above.  A corner is resting on the middle of a column.  And necessarily as those vent flaps kind of need to open.

And to the left, the exterior beam for the deck is resting on a built-up support (using interior, not galvanized, lag bolts which are rusting!) with another joist and the stairs merely nailed to that!  This is haphazard at best, and that is not a good technique when so much weight is in the picture.

This is a very large hot tub and I am going to assume it's about 6000 pounds when full of people!  Decks can be strong, but over time is the wood able to handle that dead, then live, load?  Only the structure can determine that.

My recommendation:  decks are always best supported by a patio on the earth.  IF a deck is used, and they can be, it must be constructed such that it is capable of handling this load over time.  When joists and under support is merely HAVING A REST on top of something else, and not securely attached, the results cannot be good.

 

 

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 39 commentsJay Markanich • June 25 2012 03:59AM

Comments

Great blog and great job. Keep up the good work and good luck to you this year. Thanks.
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good to see you again Josh.  Thanks for the reblog also!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

In our community, decks require a permit and several inspections...for all the reasons you state....to be not only functional and attractive...but more importantly, safe !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

This deck could have had both S&D!  But it was not easy to reach this spot to take these photos.  From what I have seen, the county inspector might not have wanted to go there to see this!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I never realized hot tubs were THAT heavy.  Wow!  I definitely won't be putting one on my weak deck.  :)                          

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 5 years ago

Well, Christiansens, I went to the outer edge of the potential weight (maybe a little less in assuming 165 pounds per person), but still those weights exist.  They have to be supported.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago
Another aspect of decks is that they should be structurally independent of the home itself.
Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) over 5 years ago

Some yes, especially if there is no rim joist nearby.  In my county, Mark, if the deck is beside the house and rim joist, through bolts are required, every 8" in a W pattern, and the county wants to come in and see them!  Lags are no longer acceptable, if the inside is obtainable.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thank you for the post. I will share this information with others.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 5 years ago

Jay, when I build my deck the County was very persistent that it was built correctly and to code.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

Jay - I love decks outside but you do see so many that have been poorly installed. Nothing like a home inspection!!!!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 5 years ago

You're welcome Gita, of course!

Mike - me too.  They wanted inside to see the through bolts and actually measured the depth of the post holes!  But getting under decks to see certain things might be a different deal.  My decks are higher than most heads!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Barbara-Jo - I do too.  It is pretty cheap outdoor living.  But the inspection can help too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I find it is all too common to find the deck structure is suspect when a hot tub is present. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Ever since reading about a deck collapsing about 10 years ago, deck safety has been paramount in my mind when looking at or selling homes with decks. 

When that deck collapsed, there were 16 people partying on it.  GEEZ!  What did they expect??? 

That deck was off the back of a townhome in Bowie.  The house and deck was only about a year old and constructed by a well known builder. 

 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

8.33 pounds per gallon....seems to me an engineer should be involved in the construction of any deck that is going to house a hot tub. I would think permitting may be the best safety measure.

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jim - yeah, the hot tub portion is often an afterthought.  And so very important to get right!

Lenn - when I took that Simpson Strong Tie class they spoke a lot about deck construction and attachments.  There are many, many attachments designed for different things!  And when the party collapses the deck is when the counties get involved and all their design codes change!

I might be wrong about that Gary, but it is between 8 and 8.5 for sure.  Yes, very heavy.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Just putting too many people on a deck will add up too...I just read about a deck collapsing at a party due to the weight of about 30 people on it...

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) over 5 years ago

You do not want to find out about a hot tub or Jacuzzi the hard way...which would be after the fact...Water does weigh

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

Tim - I would think 30 people could easily outweigh a deck's support structure.  The codes cannot anticipate everything!

Richie - can you imagine having a nice, quiet rest in a hot tub and have the deck collapse and fall 8 or 10'!?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I personally know too many people who have been injured from decks breaking.  My opinion the best deck is a patio made of something concrete and nestled tightly upon Mother Earth! 

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) over 5 years ago

After reading another post about deck safety, I had my own deck checked out.  Not good at all!  It was not to code and they had used shims all over the place to level the support posts so they were in contact with the deck.  One support post showed evidence of shifting.  It now has excellent support.  I just did not know what I did not know.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. When I first looked at the pic my eyes went straight to that corner post. I have been reading your blog too long, you didn't surprise me today.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 5 years ago

Building decks always involves "calculated risks"---in every case the risks must be calculated or all bets are off.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

This is why I always recommend my Buyers have a professional home inspection. Thanks for the great blog and photos Jay.

Posted by Steve Baklaich, Treating Buyers & Sellers to Full Service Always. (RE/MAX Results St Cloud Mn real estate) over 5 years ago

I can't agree more. So many decks are either not constructed properly or maintained it's scary. No one seems to think about them till something bad happens. Hopefully good inspectors are educating buyers of these issue.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 5 years ago
Hi Jay, This is some great information and I had certainly never considered the excessive weight factor. By understanding this, if one should ever build a deck, one must think ahead as to whether there is ever intended to be a hot tub placed on it. It would also be a good disclosure for a seller to remind a buyer that their deck was not designed to hold a hot a hot tub. ( most decks wouldn't have the needed support for a hot tub). Then if a Buyer puts one on there and things fall apart, the seller would not be liable.
Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) over 5 years ago

Mike - that would be the safest deck of all!

Kathryn - smart to have it checked out.  I don't like that shim technique.  It simply is not professional.

Randy - glad you are so informed!  It pays to learn what we can.  I like AR for that reason.

Shadow - all bets were off on this one.  They will have to check it out professionally.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Steve - you are welcome!  The photos are to instruct as much as the words.

Rob - and so many have problems.  It is ashame, especially when they get added to so they can accommodate this or that.

William - I don't know who would be responsible if a hot tub was simply placed on a deck!  Maybe the hot tub company for not forewarning as to weight!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I'm not an inspector but I agree with you Jay hot tubs should be on solid surfaces. Thanks for the photos.

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) over 5 years ago

That's a lot of heavy stuff there Adrian!  Best to be on something really, really supportive!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, Another great post. I have enjoyed reading the comments also. You are right on with your water weight at 8.33 lbs. a gallon. That is the weight at 60 degrees. The weight will vary slightly as the temperature changes. The warmer the lighter and the cooler the heavier. My biggest fear of decks is the railings. I think I have told you this before, I had a friend die when a high deck railing broke and he fell about 15 feet.  

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 5 years ago

Thanks for the confirmation - I always felt this way too, but having you confirm makes it good!

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) over 5 years ago

Good feature. I am in the midst of building a deck right now, over a concrete patio. A hot tub maybe will be added later.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay congrats on the feature (again) :~).  Anyway it looks like my handy work if I did such things.  Not a handyman at all Duct tape is my rule

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago

I don't remember that Tom, but you probably did say.  The rails are crucially important.  Even a fall from not so high can be fatal depending on how one lands.

Attachments are the most important thing on decks Joy.  If that was the confirmation, glad to do it!

I think hot tubs "buried" in the deck, into which you step, not climb, and resting on concrete are very attractive installations Erica.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

They forgot duct tape completely on this installation James, another reason to condemn it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Great points, Jay!  Hot tubs in decks always concern me too!  Now I know with valid reason!!!

Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) over 5 years ago

They can be supported on a deck DeeDee, but must be done very, very well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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