New deck collapsed in Austin last night

All of my reports state “limit weight on deck”. Young people nowadays are just “uneducated” about common sense. 23 people times 200 lbs., lets, see, that is about the weight of my truck.

I read one account that this deck was 400 sq ft. At a very modest 20 psf live load, deck should have held 8000 lbs or 40 200 lb guests. At the 2006 IRC prescriptive 40 psf, the load could be 16000 lbs. Looks like your classic “festive occasion” ledger failure.

I’m wondering if Austin inspectors are rummaging through their files to see if they “own” this deck. I sure wouldn’t want to be the one who said “this looks OK.”

JMHO but telling client to keep guests off a large deck is not going to protect you. I assume the 120 lb widow buying the place is going to rent it to a football frat.

George Szontagh
TREC 2212
Proverbs 31:6-7

They said this deck was only built about two weeks ago.

City inspections are great all across Texas aren’t they?

Additionally, the city should be rummaging through their files for a permit, plans and who inspected it.

Decks in the 14 first tier coastal counties in Texas are required to be designed, inspected and certified by a windstorm engineer for purposes of windstorm insurance. (This follows the IBC and IRC but down here the state has a layer of enforcement over and above city inspections.) If you pull a permit down here along the coast the city wants a letter from an approved windstorm engineer to attach to the permit. Nevertheless you can build a residential deck but when you overload it bad things happen. Cities should not be missing this in any plan review or inspection. The deck plans should be specific with loads, connections, piles, etc. Our labor force also needs these illustrated/graphic plans.

R301.1.3 Engineered design. When a building of otherwise conventional construction contains structural elements exceeding the limits of Section R301 or otherwise, not conforming to this code, these elements shall be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice.

R301.2.1.1 Design criteria. Construction in regions where the basic wind speeds from Figure R301.2(4) equal or exceed 110 miles per hour (177.1 km/h) shall be designed in accordance with - [for purposes of decks - Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE-7)]
[ICC 600 is forthcoming as well]

R502.2.1 Decks. Where supported by attachment to an exterior wall,
decks shall be positively anchored to the primary structure and designed for both vertical and lateral loads as applicable. Such attachment shall not be accomplished by the use of toenails or nails subject to withdrawal. Where positive connection to the primary building structure cannot be verified during inspection, decks shall be self-supporting. For decks with cantilevered framing members, connections to exterior walls or other framing members, shall be designed and constructed to resist uplift resulting from the full live load specified in Table R301.5 acting on the cantilevered
portion of the deck.

See Simpson StrongTie on great deck fasteners and deck construction manual.

InterNachi has a deck educational course

FEMA P-550, 2nd Edition/12/2009 has some great piling and connection graphics. (Not just for coastal areas)

North American Deck and Railing Association
Personal injury lawsuits typically follow this type of accident.

Interesting. code seems to suggest the connection cannot be inspected
during a typical home inspection. Some sort of standard text could be created off this.

I cannot determine positive connection to the building. Not inspected. blah blah blah

I think this one photo alone can lead to serious speculation as to the root cause of the collapse.



George and Michael in Austin, what’s the latest updates on this?

Actually, not a lot of new news. The last newspaper published article is here. There have been several TV reports interviewing a local PE who has carefully suggested the failure was due to the attachment to the home and that had it been designed and built as free-standing then this would not have occurred (duh). Those PE remarks and the photo posted earlier sure seem to point to the probability that the ledger board was not fastened properly. I can see where it might have simply been lagged to the siding and not to a header/rim joist or any other structural member.

Looks like the resident, the owners brother, is gonna have some permanent damage. He had spinal cord surgery. Wonder how bad the other injuries were (25 others)? That was quite a fall from the 2nd floor to the concrete below. What a mess. Hopefully this opens eyes in Austin, to get it built right (and Inspected).

Was the deck permitted? I/We don’t tactically endorse work done without permits as LATENT defects may exist.

Even the best inspector (city or private) can’t see a latent defect. I or anyone else could have looked at the ledger’s bolt pattern and the joist hangers.

If it (the ledger) “appeared” correctly attached and installed and subsequently failed… Is it my/our fault? If the contractor installed lags that were too short or missed the studs, we could never see that.

That being said, I hope anyone involved recovers as best as possible.

These situations can be very real for any of us. Latent defects DO exist and CAN’T be seen.

Read the link info posted by Michael 2 posts before yours. Makes it real clear

Michael, thanx for posting the updated info.

Actually they’re not but that had nothing to do with this.

Here comes the first lawsuit in Austin.

Philadelphia deck collapse

Delaware deck collapse

Deck collapse in Minnesota

Deck collapse in Connecticut

Wood Deck Construction Guide from AF&PA