How many issues do you see?

Local builder built this deck less than two years ago. 4x4’s supports are floating above the concrete blocks used as base. No access under deck. Need narratives for report…

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A. The joist hangers cannot carry their full design load, because they are not fully nailed in accordance with the hanger manufacturer’s instructions.

B. Some jurisdictions do not require deck posts to be carried on footings which are founded at or below frost depth. Here in northeast Pennsylvania, I see many decks built as the pictured one, although recent decks fall under the IRC and would be required to have footings.

C. That’s a cute knothole at the bottom of the joist where it’s most critical, in the foreground of the second picture. It probably falls within grading rules for the lumber, however.

D. I don’t see any flashing at the ledger, either behind it as a capillary break, or above it.

E. It’s not possible to see whether the ledger is correctly bolted either to or through the rim joist of the house framing.

F. It’s not possible to see how all those posts are connected to the deck structure. Is it one post per joist? What about the joist with the knothole in the foreground of picture 2?

G. What supports the outer end of the deck? There does not appear to be as many posts there, so there must be a girder of some sort. The pictures do not show that part of the deck clearly.

No access is required. “Due to the low height of the wood deck or because it was enclosed, the joists, ledgers, and supporting beams could not be thoroughly evaluated.”

“There are components of the wood deck that are structurally unsound.
[List a few examples and show photos.] We can elaborate on this issue, but the entire deck should be evaluated by a competent and licensed contractor and serviced accordingly.”

Hi Richard, You are correct on all observations. Yes, that verticle column from the cement block was attached to every joist. The end of the deck that you spoke of had (4) 4x4’s that supported the band joist, there the hangers were installed properly. Already some of the 4x4’s on the side’s of the deck are lifting and not providing support for the deck. Although this deck is supported by the ledger board and the small middle colomns and the end columns.

One question: what makes people think that a **contractor **is qualified to make structural decisions about the adequacy or inadequacy of a structure? “Looks OK to me” doesn’t cut it. Maybe 20% of contractors have any idea about how to size a joist or beam, or about correct details of water control. That means about 80% of them may mislead an inspector’s client. On the other hand, a sizeable percentage of structural engineers will suggest either incorrect, unnecessary or ineffective structural remedies, and I must admit that a very large percentage of architects will be no better. I “speak” from nearly a half-century of experience as an architect doing primarily residential work.

I just often shake my head when an inspector recommends evaluation by a contractor especially of structural matters. Finding the right person to recommend is a lot more difficult than finding the right profession to recommend, but it may be vital to the interests of an inspector’s client.

I don’t mean to be accusing anyone of anything, it’s just a thought I’ve had in mind for a long time.

Richard, it’s a 2 foot high deck, not the Golden Gate Bridge. A competent, licensed contractor should be able to make the call and perform adequate repairs.

Key word: “should”. Most will not have the required ability. All most can do is use whatever worked on their last job, whether the conditions are the same or not. I’m not putting down contractors, God knows, I could not do what they do. But by the same tioken, they cannot do what I do. I can evaluate joists, beams and connections. I couldn’t frame a hip roof if my life depended on it. That’s my point.

After all, supposedly a licensed competent contractor built the darn thing in the first place…see?

No, the keyword is “competent”.

In my humble opinion, this deck should be re-constructed!

How about properly resupported?Hey I just went back and looked at the photos, what exactly is the ledger board tied into? Given the height of the window and siding as seen in one of the photos I am concerned that it may be above the sill and floor structure.