Deck built with only nails?

Does IRC code require particular fasteners, braces, screws, bolts, nails, etc? I had a new screened in porch built and nothing is bolted. Neither the beams nor the posts are supported aside from nails. Except the ledger board which appears to be bolted to the house. Its a brick house so does the ledger need flashing? Part of it is not under cover and gets wet. There are joist hangers on most joists. Stairs are nailed in at the top and some of the nails missed the mark. Also, the structure is supposed to be “semi-freestanding”? The builder put a beam in near the house after the building was complete and long after the deck part of the porch was inspected. After several failed inspections, the last inspector noted deficiencies but checked the “May proceed” box so the builder ran with it. This is a super expensive ( to me) porch built by a reputable national company that contracted it to a less than stellar builder. As little as I know about code, I know you can’t build off of a chimney (he had to rebuild part of roof) and step tread has to be at least 10" (I ordered 12" anyway). The stairs were rebuilt 3 times and the posts at the top are nailed in over the deck boards with nails that are already rusting after only 2 weeks. Am I just being too picky or are there codes requiring more than nails? I really want it to last beyond the 5yr. warranty. Any help is greatly appreciated.

If you live in a city with building codes, only the city can enforce them. Do you know what version of the building code your city uses?

If you wanted something above and beyond the minimum building code, that would have to be in a signed contract between you and your builder. If you signed the contract your builder supplied, your probably out of luck. Most contractors supply contracts that are too vague to pin them down on the detains you want.

For future reference hire someone to review your contract, have a stamped set of building plans and include a set of job specification that includes the details you mentioned. All commercial contracts I have worked with supplement the plans and contract with “Job Specification”. For example if the contract and plans show a concrete driveway the job specifications will be something like this:

Concrete floor slabs shall be constructed of 3000 psi concrete, 4” thick reinforced with 10 gauge 6” x 6” welded-wire mesh continuous and rebar (reinforcing steel) as per plans. Place slabs over well-compacted granular fill compacted in 12 inch lifts to 95 percent density per AASHTO T-180 Proctor, and a 4 or 6 mil vapor barrier. Construction or control joints shall be provided in slabs on grade so that the maximum area between joints shall be 400 sq. ft. and the length of that area is not more than twice the width. Provide smooth steel trowel finish for all interior slab areas and garage surfaces. Provide broom finish texture for all exterior slabs. Slope exterior patio or porch slabs away from building at 1/4” of drop in elevation for every 1’-0” in distance. At garage slab, provide positive drainage and taper lip at garage/overhead door.

Video recording of a Webinar for:

Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Constr Guide (DCA 6) 2012 IRC Version from May 2014

The DCA6 from the American Wood Council is the document that is the base information for codes regarding Deck construction. Lots of great information to be gleaned…

Hope this helps.

It sounds like many things are wrong with the construction of this porch, including this.

“Except the ledger board which appears to be bolted to the house. Its a brick house so does the ledger need flashing”

Ledger boards typically cannot be attached directly to, and supported by, a brick wall.

Thank you for the replies. I’ve been reading up on the resources provided and I guess I have a big mess. I live in a county that uses the 2015 IRC. Their problem is that a different inspector comes out each time and only looks at what should have been built next so if the builder altered anything, the next inspector wouldn’t see it. Not a good system in my opinion. I would think that the final inspection should look at everything. Some inspectors are more thorough than others, I’m sure.

I think I am going to call the county inspector who was out here last and let him know what’s up. They might be afraid to get in the middle of things so I may need to go ahead and hire a NACHI home inspector. I hired one to help me resolve a roof problem and he was great and worth every penny.

About the contract, etc.,
I selected the highest estimate and a national company. They had the 3D rendering, the blueprints, the job specs all laid out. That’s the only way I could prove that I ordered a 48" stairway with 12" tread. They were changing things on the fly and didn’t provide me with the blueprints for what are now obvious reasons. The company advertises that they have “…the knowledge and experience of three generations to the table. We are also backed by the strength of a company that’s built 100,000 incredible outdoor structures since 1980. We offer you the benefit of a national architectural design center that will custom design your project to complement your home, suit your personal tastes and meet your exact needs for functionality.”

“Better building by design is our credo, one that we aspire to live up to everyday. In addition to flawless porch, patio and deck design execution, we pride ourselves on knowing how perfect your outdoor space will be before we first break ground.”

"you can expect to be treated to the highest level of service.

Knowledge on local building codes and terrain
Professional-quality building standards
Professional code of conduct and values
Insurance and warranty protection
Nationally praised by peers, suppliers and the media
History of satisfied clients"

And on the “Deck Safety” checklist they suggest the following:
"A deck should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors to create a continuous pathway to ensure deck stability and safety. Check to see if the appropriate fasteners and connectors were used when constructing the deck. "


“The attachment of the deck to the house is the area where most deck failures occur. Pay special attention to this area and check to make sure that the deck is … properly flashed for water protection.”

"…we also use building practices that ensure more stability in our deck construction. … All of our decks are built using free-standing construction which means the deck doesn’t have to rely on the strength of the tie-in location (the house) for support. "

“Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing on the deck to make sure that the railing is secure.”

I placed my confidence in the following promises:

" We’d like to think our local outdoor building offices offer the best of both worlds: each local office is staffed by trained professionals with an in-depth knowledge of local building law…"

…"that your residential outdoor living project will be completed to the terms of your Archadeck contract and built to the agreed-upon specification "

"a professional outdoor living space contractor should have a high standard of knowledge …]. He and his tradesmen should be properly licensed with a solid knowledge of building codes. "

"They should be competent in the construction field, following building codes and requirements …

“A professional will provide a finished product that you will live with every day, a pain-free construction project and the maximum value at a fair price.”

I was led to believe that all franchises build to certain specs and are trained to build to the same set of standards. Another sad thing is that the license I was provided belongs to the owner of the local franchise who is elderly and probably has no idea of what’s really going on.

I am thinking I’ll get all the code violations as well as the substandard methods used and photos together and send them with a letter to the national office with a copy to the local office. The locals have already proven they are not beyond bullying so I see no reason to pursue a remedy here. Their warranties do little good if they do more damage each time they come out in hopes you won’t call them back.

Sometimes I hate being single, female, and old in the South.
Thanks to all!

After corresponding with the national office, the owner of the local franchise came out. He confirmed that there were major issues and is going to rebuild parts of it and correct other issues. He actually offered to tear it all down and start over, but I think that would be harder on the house and on me. There are things that are right. So I’ll be happy with what he has proposed. I am so relieved. I thought I was stuck with a nightmare for the next decade. Thanks for all input and for letting me gripe.

Good to know that promises to correct were made. Please update us as to how it finishes up for you. Hopefully he will keep his word and make it right. Good luck.

That’s great to hear.