What I'm Seeing Now

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Decks - Not Attached Correctly, Not Supported Correctly - Dangerous

We home inspectors see this all the time - decks - not attached correctly, not supported correcly - dangerous.

These photos are all from the same deck!  And it has been there a while.

Example number one.

The outside joist.

The joists of the deck are erratically spaced, some 22" and some 24".

They rest on an exterior beam with a small cantilever.

Noticing how things are pulling apart?  The first outside joist was merely nailed to the deck joists.  And the guardrail is bolted to a deck joist!  It got loose, so as a repair they nailed another outside joist to the first!  See how it is loosening too?

Where do people congregate when they go out onto the deck?  The outside guardrail!  DANGEROUS.

Example number two.

The ledger beam is the beam that is attached to the house.

There are specific ways to attach it.

Decks don't collapse downward.  Typically they pull away from the house.  So the attachment to the house is every bit as important as the columns supporting it.

Look at how the exterior deck joist is attached to the ledger beam - nails.

They are loosening.

Also, notice how the guardrail is attached to the joist.  It is loosening just as the joist is.

The ledger beam is attached to the house with what appears to be a through bolt.

But not enough bolts are present and ideally the bolts are in a V fashion, high and low on the beam.

What you can't tell from either of these photos is that the ledger beam has come off the house over 1" at the top.

It is pulling away!

DANGEROUS.

Example number three.

Finally, two of the deck joists, spread too far apart, are attached to the chimney box as support.

THIS IS ENTIRELY INCORRECT.

The chimney box is not a structural component of the house.

It should be bypassed with a double joist in front, and a double joist to each side.

Any inteiror joists should be strapped to the double bypassing joist.

Perhaps you can see how this interesting arrangement is pressing on the corner of the chimney, collapsing it somewhat!

And the other "joist" is nailed to the corner of the chimney!  This is scary all around.

DANGEROUS.

When you walk on the deck it sways somewhat, wobbles somewhat, and these folks want to sell it to someone else.

My recommendation:  decks are one of the things that almost always stand out in some way during a home inspection.  Particularly when unprofessional installation, or repairs, has taken place.  Homeowners should not put on a deck after watching a show on TV.  They will not get enough information!  And a TV show does not guarantee one's expertise in carpentry.

 

 

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 14 commentsJay Markanich • May 17 2014 04:22AM

Comments

Excellent points made Jay!

I noticed that the galvanized metal seems to be corroding at the hangers and washers, does that have anything to do with the pressure treated lumber?

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Probably not Tom.  I think it has to do with 25' of rain water running down the chimney soaking the straps.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I have never seen the corrosion of galvanized metals and pressure treated lumber but I know that Simpson Strong Tie recommended their Z-Max which has a longer service life than standard galvanized products.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Simpson stuff is really good Tom.  And they serve a great lunch if you take their day classes!

I do see it rust from time to time.  This case may have been precipitated by the nails and washers, I don't know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, The same old song and dance. Also to Tom point there are some fasteners that will react with the pressure treating of the wood. All fasteners are to be approved for the specific treatment , yeah like anyone is going to check that.

Here is a couple of links on this-

http://www.aces.edu/dept/poultryventilation/documents/Nwsltr-35ACQLumber.pdf

http://www.911-nails.com/Docs/ACQ_Fastener.pdf

http://www.harleysvillegroup.com/losc/Client_Resources/Z-1636.pdf

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thanks Don.  And some don't work with the newer pressure-treatment chems.

I am interested in that harleyvillagegroup link.  I'm hoping it has something to do with bikes?

And that vette in the photo is a 1953, but I can't remember why I bought that year. 

Must be getting old and can't remember, I guess.

I'll think of it soon...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

You mean my deck isn't supposed to sway? I thought it was an added feature!

I built my own deck when we built our house. Red-heads into concrete walls and through bolts when bolting into support posts.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

It's only supposed to sway in the wind Than.  And no other reason.

OK, that my not be entirely accurate ...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I was showing a home one day and we all walked out on the back deck.  It started swaying and we left in a hurry.  Not good not good at all

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

That might be a sign of the times James!  The I-saw-it-on-TV deck!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

What, it's not as easy as drilling some holes, putting in some posts and nailing some boards together?

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago

Well, apparently it is Suzanne, because that's what I see all the time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've heard of one too many decks collapsing! I was on a deck recently that didn't sway, but it had a pretty good slant down toward the railings. Not sure if that means it's pulling away from the structure like your example #2...

Posted by Whitney Watson (First Heritage Mortgage) about 4 years ago

A few things could cause that Whitney.  Hopefully it wasn't because the cantilever was too broad.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

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