Bad deck

Our taxes pay their salaries. In return, city building inspectors perform the important task of making sure our homes, schools, stores, and other structures are safe.
Mike Rush, KSDK 11:06 p.m. CST November 12, 2014

Ellisville inspector approves dangerous deck.(Photo: KSDK)
ELLISVILLE, Mo. - Our taxes pay their salaries. In return, city building inspectors perform the important task of making sure our homes, schools, stores, and other structures are safe.
But a local couple says an inspector passed their project, even though it was dangerous. They wonder how many others are out there. 5 on Your Side’s Mike Rush has the story.
Armed with tools, plenty of notes, even videos, Carl Tebeau, a retired St. Louis City Police detective, is taking on his deck problem like he would a crime.
“We handled it like a case, we just gathered the evidence,” Tebeau said.
That evidence included video that showed the deck swaying back and forth. The former investigator, along with his friend, Paula, saved for years to build the $18,000 composite deck, started taking a closer look.
“The beams are not resting on the posts, the stairs sag, there has to be a certain amount of clearance between that landing and the deck,” Tebeau said. “There are code violations all over this deck.”
Crowden Home Improvement did the work, but Tebeau says it was really the city inspector who failed him.
“Ellisville kind of gave him a get out of jail free card,” Tebeau said.
Gene Kunzie is Ellisville’s building inspector. He inspected the deck at least twice last summer never mentioning any problems, Tebeau says, before signing the permit and approving the faulty structure.
“Ellisville made it possible for them to get away with this,” said Tebeau. “You know, had they said wait a minute, this is a code violation, it has to be repaired, they would have had to do it and if they couldn’t find somebody who could.”
After Tebeau’s complaints, Kunzie re-inspected and sent a letter to the contractor with a list of needed repairs. Then he sent Tebeau an email stating that because of Tebeau’s concerns and the swaying that: “It may be better to limit or restrict use of the deck.”
“We were warned by the inspector, after he passed it, not to use it,” Tebeau said.
The deck owners paid for independent inspections, from a construction company and an engineer. In one report, the engineer wrote ‘the most inexperienced eye’ should notice the structure is crooked and it ‘should not have been approved by the building inspector.’
“So the deck’s not safe?,” Mike Rush asked.
“No, not at this point,” Bill Schwer said.
Bill Schwer serves as Ellisville’s City Manager and City Engineer. He’s Kunzie’s boss. He agrees mistakes were made, but stands behind Kunzie’s work.
“Our code official is one of the best I’ve seen,” Schwer said. “I have every confidence in him.”
Kunzie’s reach is far. He performs around 1,000 inspections a year including houses, businesses and apartments. Schwer says in the nine years the inspector has been with the city, the deck is the only complaint.
“Mistakes happen unfortunately, but we made it right, we went back,” said Schwer.
“This seems like a big mistake though?” said Rush.
“We re-inspected it,” said Schwer.
“Only at their request though?” Rush said.
“Well, sure. How else would we know though, Mike, seriously, I mean. Our inspector missed it,” Schwer said. “We were made aware, we came back, we wrote a letter to the contractor and explained to them that they were going to have to get an engineer to review it.”
Crowden would make the repairs, but the couple has no faith in Crowden and won’t let them come back. So, more than a year after Kunzie approved it, the dangerous deck sits unchanged, while Kunzie’s situation has changed. Months after the admitted bungling of the inspection, Kunzie’s duties were increased and he received a 15 percent raise, bringing his salary to nearly $70,000.
“The citizens, the citizens. I mean not only do they suffer monetarily but potentially they could be injured or killed,” Tebeau said.
Keith Crowden, who built the deck, admits there were issues with the construction. Although his company is no longer in business, he says he would be willing to make repairs if the couple would let him.
If you have an issue you’d like 5 on Your Side to look into, give Mike Rush a call or send him an email at

:shock::shock::shock: I am sure glad this never happens here in the U.S. :shock::shock::shock:

Unfortunately we have these things happen in Canada too.

What do you suggest we do about this Roy?
How can inspectors ensure the ledger board is proper?

Take the deck course and you will know.

The deck course does not illustrate how to address the ledger. Does the hammer test tell you all is OK?


It might make Ron happy if all go to](

I believe Ron asked for the opinion of a veteran Master Inspector, NOT a link you “cut & paste” to a book he can purchase. There are already InterNACHI articles, training course information and MB search. Why send him on a wild goose chase? He has no idea who the author is, but he knows you and obviously is seeking your knowledge. Why won’t you share it with him and everyone else? If you can’t answer his question, just say so, and he can move along from there.

You think I need to spend more time with him well you are wrong a few years ago I spent many hours answering his questions .
I expect there was others who also answered many of his questions .
He then turned around and came out with a disk on how to build decks .
He is a user and I will not help as he is a parasite who does little for our industry.
The place I sent him to is his books .](

I wasn’t aware that the CMI COE allowed you to ‘pick and choose’ who you helped…

He is not in the profession.

Gee you think he needs help well you can go here and buy some of his books .I am sure he will appreciate you very much…

Roy, I am asking you as an experienced inspector to illustrate “what you would do - Step by Step” to ensure the client mentioned in the scenario presented that this deck can be used. This forum is a learning forum where younger inspectors might get some tips. Would you be kind enough to walk us through how you would determine if the ledger + bolts + hangers are inspected for this client and if they are OK for this deck to be used.

You are an inspector and have been hired to check out an outdoor wooden deck used by a local restaurant. This is a restaurant purchased by a new owner. The deck was built 6 months ago and appears to be OK. It is filled with tables + chairs + stations for the employees to service the customers. The deck is only 8 feet from the structure but it is elevated 10 feet off of the ground. We will assume the railings are secure and acceptable to the current codes. The owner wants to know if she can open an use this deck. You notice 1/2 inch diameter lag bolts at 12 inches OC.
You have stated in several posts how “important” this problem is so your help here is greatly appreciated. If you cannot answer this I will understand that perhaps your expertize does not lie in this area. Thank you Roy!

My fee is $400.00 Canadian or American .Please send a Money order to me
You are a parasite who is uses others .

I understand Roy! It’s not your area of expertize. You are not willing to help the inspectors on line, but free to give your comments to others. I thought so.

Irrelevent. He is an InterNACHI member.

Thanks for confirming your limited and outdated knowledge and your unwillingness to assist those that directly request your assistance.

Perhaps it is time for you to go into full retirement, and leave the future of the profession to those that are able and willing to further it along.

Good riddance!

No you do not understand you make false statements and try to embarrass me .
You are the one who used me for many weeks to get info .
You just might want to go and see some of the letters from those who I have helped you might want to see just how many friends are listed there too I see you have none of either listed

Please see post

I did offer to help Have not had a reply .


Originally Posted by rcherchuk
*I understand Roy! It’s not your area of expertize. *
***You are not willing to help the inspectors on line, ***
This is a lie and you can see it if you look at my many posts

but free to give your comments to others. I thought so.

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