Deck Foundation

So, which is it?

Forget to take your meds again?


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Lol. Again, no help to the OP.

It seems to me commenters on this forum are always looking for and calling out building code violations and defects in craftsmanship, which are somewhat meaningless to a home inspection. A ton of building codes are broadly applied and many times overkill to particular situations. Plus, it bears repeating, we are not building code inspectors.

I look at this situation and my first question is “is the deck square and level?” Or, more generically, “is this thing working and for how long has it been doing its job?”

If the deck is square and level, where and what, exactly, is the defect? You want the homeowner to tear down a sturdy, level, satisfactory deck because the footer or some other non-safety-related aspect is not done to code?

If the deck is indeed sloped, then something likely was not done right or went wrong. Then, I look for the root structural cause.

Cracking concrete along load bearing points is a potential issue no matter how long it has stood to date. Things perform until they don’t. For me, the photo’s are not clear enough to make a determination or even recommend elevating the problem but I always look at footers for signs of failure.


For some things I think this is fine. Things like rafters and trusses will probably not see different loads just because the property switches owners. Gutters and grading around the home will not see more rain just because the property switches hands.

But for decks, the reason it might still be standing is because it was never tested to capacity, and maybe never gets used at all. Then the new owner throws a house-warming party and has 40 guests out dancing on the deck with a grill, couple coolers, keg of beer, and what not.

So, “working” is relative to how it was being used, and how it will be used in the future.

For my own comfort and so that I sleep easy at night, I call out everything that does not meet DCA 6.


First of all; there should be no bearing points on exterior/interior concrete hardscaping or slabs. It is aesthetic, and not for supporting substantial live or dead bearing points.
Secondly; there should be a space provided for footing protrusions. That space, typically 1/2" to 3/4" of an inch void, packed with a material and sealant to prevent water intrusion and to absorb side loading.
Thirdly; there should be relief cuts to impede cracks from wondering and guide eventual cracking, which there will be and which will occur eventually.

Poured concrete swimming pool decking, hardscaping, use this method and install plastic T spacers in wet concrete between any expansion joints. This is done so cracks to not wonder aimlessly in any direction breaking up the smooth surface with wondering cracks. The lovely aesthetic value is prized in pools as should it be in poured concrete hardscaping…

Concrete expands and contracts.

What technique is used to verify “proper” footing below grade? I know some guys will use a stake to “probe” below grade. Even when a clear visual of a footing exists above grade, how does one know it was done correctly below grade?

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Non in most cases.
Typically you know a column/post footing when you see a footing. Protrudes sometimes as much as 6" to 12" inches above the sounding surface/s. Square or rectangle concrete. Other than that, limitation. Unable to observe.

Unless you dig, or in the case of some, probe, you can’t know, here the frost line is 32 inches give or take, footings should be a minimum of 36 inches below grade. As for me, I’m not digging or probing to verify proper footings or proper depth of footings.

And even though we aren’t responsible for inspecting anything below grade, I still add this statement because 99% of the decks I inspect are not built per DCA6 Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide Based on 2012 IRC (

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So you add it to every report? what about other footings? basement/crawl post footings? those are often also improper.

For those that aren’t aware…
AWC is the foremost authority in the development of the information provided to the ICC for use in Codes regarding most forms of wood structures.

FYI… AWC also offers (usually monthly) free webinars with some really good information.
If I remember correctly, at one such webinar about a year ago, they mentioned they are scheduled to release a new version of the DCA-6 this or next year.


Thanks jeffrey!
There’s some good stuff in there

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I stopped reading right there.


Cracking concrete along load bearing points is a potential issue no matter how long it has stood to date.

As to the OP image, poured concrete hardscaping, what load bearing points are you referring to.
I always through columns/post required footings. Even a bearing wall require footing.

On a 4-inch slab it is typical to restrict the weight to roughly 40 lb/sq ft. 80 pounds per square foot.

Again, due to the high amount of improperly built decks, yes, I do add it to every report.

The vast majority of decks are un-permitted work, houses aren’t, at least in my area, so at least the AHJs are inspecting, or at least supposed to be inspecting footings for all structures being built, same goes for additions.

Do you check the footings for decks and how do you do it? If not, do you take it for granted that proper footings are in place, or do you just disclaim it in your PIA?

Good info, thanks for posting that Jeff, I’m curious to see what changes or additions they’ll be making.

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We do not know if there was a “thickening” of the slab at load points. This creates a “footing” on a monolithic pour. Hence my statement above. This is a very common practice at both the interior and exterior of the home.


As mentioned, cracking may indicate a potential problem.


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A lot good and interesting observations here. I’m going to offer a more general reporting suggestion. Report what you see.
A clause that I am often using is:
Not constructed to best practices is common, sometimes subjective, and is an indication that work was not compliant with the standards at the time of construction and not done with the required construction permits. In the inspector’s estimation, the framing should have been better secured together with approved strapping, brackets, hangers, fasteners, and with appropriate flashings. There may be other work that could have been done better. Unless otherwise noted here, decks not built to best practices or local standards, may be useable at the time of the inspection, but remedial work is recommended by a qualified contractor to ensure that the deck continues to be safely serviceable.

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I think the key phrase here is “potential issue.”


Is this really a deck? It looks more like a patio roof. It would me nice to see a picture from the rear yard looking towards the structure.