Springtime means outdoor enjoyment and occasions to spend more time on the porch or deck.
There were 42 deck collapses reported by the media in 2006. This is a fifty percent increase from the previous year. Deck collapse reports have increased an average of 21% per year since 2000.
In September 2006, a particularly violent deck collapse occurred. A family of five were doing a final walk-through on a single family house they were buying in a quiet, older subdivision in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The house was situated on a lot that sloped away from the street. The back sliding door was about 12 feet above the ground and there was a well built and well maintained deck overlooking a wooded backyard. When the husband, wife and two teenage children stepped out onto the deck, it pulled off of the house.
The family fell to the ground and the deck landed upside down on top of them. They were trapped underneath the deck, injured and traumatized.
From information provided by the National Association of Home builders (NAHB) and the North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA), between 600,00 and 800,000 decks ere built in each of 2005 and 2006. This number does not include the new decks installed on older homes, or renovations of older decks.
Deck construction appears to be simple and straight forward and many homeowners undertake the project themselves. With readily available calculators, guides and pre-made construction plans, it is easy to see why deck building has become one of the most common ‘do-it-yourself’ projects.
My recommendation is that home owners perform an annual inspection of their deck to ensure that the deck ledger board is securely anchored (with bolts…not nails) to the floor joist of the house and that all fasteners are free from rust and deterioration. If you detect or suspect movement of the structure from its original construction, contact a qualified and competent contractor immediately.
When purchasing a new home, always have the home inspected by a qualified home inspector. Pay particular attention to any comments made as to the condition of the deck and ensure that it is safe when you move in. Annual inspections will help you to maintain that level of safety and security.
For more information, you may contact me, Jim Bushart, a local home inspector and President of the Missouri Chapter of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, at my website (www.missourihomeinspection.com) or by calling (314)803-2167.