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  1. #1
    Ewell Lammy's Avatar
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    Question Rear Deck of a Town House

    I have recently inspected a home in Stone Mountain Georgia, and some wooden decks are attached to the rear sliding door of the house. There is no stairs or escape path from the deck.
    1. Should be there be an escape opening from the deck to the ground?

    2. Take a look on the ground there are exposed wiring laying along the ground terminating at a junction box in between the townhouses. Is this legal for safety issues?

    3. Is the deck too low to the ground and Should there be a deck attached to the house period?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Deck does not need egress. Wires need to be protected in rigid conduit and buried, Jerry will provide code requirements I"m sure. Wood deck posts are in contact with soil.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Quote Originally Posted by Ewell Lammy View Post
    wooden decks are attached to the rear sliding door of the house. There is no stairs or escape path from the deck.
    1. Should be there be an escape opening from the deck to the ground?
    No because that does not lead from a bedroom.

    Now, if from a bedroom, that raises other issues and the answer will likely change.

    2. Take a look on the ground there are exposed wiring laying along the ground terminating at a junction box in between the townhouses. Is this legal for safety issues?
    New construction with cables temporary to/for something (still not good as shown), what type of cables, what are they for, where do they go, or - are these existing buildings? In which case whatever the cables are for needs to be done properly and the sellers need to be responsible for any special assessments from the association, if there are any special assessments.

    Yes, the cables need to be addressed pronto and corrected properly, have the seller have the association advise what, why, where, and when those will be corrected. If the answers are slow in coming, does your client really want to buy into an association with that type of management (lack thereof).

    3. Is the deck too low to the ground and Should there be a deck attached to the house period?
    Decks are allowed to be constructed either free standing or attached to the structure. When attached to the structure the footings under the deck supports much be below frost level just like the footings for the structure are, if not, then the deck should be free standing (and the footings can basically be at any height).

    I'd be concerned about the attachment of the guard balusters, some have two screws with one screw going into the joint between the top of the joist and the flooring and only one going into the side of the joist.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Looks to me like at least some of those cables may the type of coax listed for unprotected burial ( I must've seen miles of the stuff installed by Comcast ). If 's so, leaving it lying around like that may be a Bad Idea, but I'm not sure that it's a code violation - perhaps Jerry P. or someone else will know.

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    They've got a Brinks Charcoal Lighter Security System! What more do you want???

    Looks like gas meter is in front of service panel too!


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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Kind of a gray area as those may be, as Michael said, cable TV cables, but if listed for direct burial and left exposed that would be "not installed in accordance with their listing and labeling", which is a violation of NEC 110.3(B) Listing and labeling where they must be installed and used in accordance with their listing and labeling.

    Other that than: From the 2008 NEC - ( but I would go with 110.3(B) )
    II. Coaxial Cables Outside and Entering Buildings
    820.44 Overhead Coaxial Cables.
    Coaxial cables, prior to the point of grounding, as defined in 820.93, shall comply with 820.44(A) through (F).
    (A) On Poles. Where practicable, conductors on poles shall be located below the electric light, power, Class 1, or non–power-limited fire alarm circuit conductors and shall not be attached to a cross-arm that carries electric light or power conductors.
    (B) Lead-in Clearance. Lead-in or aerial-drop coaxial cables from a pole or other support, including the point of initial attachment to a building or structure, shall be kept away from electric light, power, Class 1, or non–power-limited fire alarm circuit conductors so as to avoid the possibility of accidental contact.
    Exception: Where proximity to electric light, power, Class 1, or non–power-limited fire alarm circuit service conductors cannot be avoided, the installation shall be such as to provide clearances of not less than 300 mm (12 in.) from light, power, Class 1, or non–power-limited fire alarm circuit service drops. The clearance requirement shall apply at all points along the drop, and it shall increase to 1.02 m (40 in.) at the pole.
    (C) On Masts. Aerial coaxial cables shall be permitted to be attached to an above-the-roof raceway mast that does not enclose or support conductors of electric light or power circuits.
    (D) Above Roofs. Coaxial cables shall have a vertical clearance of not less than 2.5 m (8 ft) from all points of roofs above which they pass.
    Exception No. 1: Auxiliary buildings such as garages and the like.
    Exception No. 2: A reduction in clearance above only the overhanging portion of the roof to not less than 450 mm (18 in.) shall be permitted if (1) not more than 1.2 m (4 ft) of communications service drop conductors pass above the roof overhang, and (2) they are terminated at a raceway mast or other approved support.
    Exception No. 3: Where the roof has a slope of not less than 100 mm in 300 mm (4 in. in 12 in.), a reduction in clearance to not less than 900 mm (3 ft) shall be permitted.
    (E) Between Buildings. Coaxial cables extending between buildings and also the supports or attachment fixtures shall be acceptable for the purpose and shall have sufficient strength to withstand the loads to which they may be subjected.
    Exception: Where a coaxial cable does not have sufficient strength to be self-supporting, it shall be attached to a supporting messenger cable that, together with the attachment fixtures or supports, shall be acceptable for the purpose and shall have sufficient strength to withstand the loads to which they may be subjected.
    (F) On Buildings. Where attached to buildings, coaxial cables shall be securely fastened in such a manner that they will be separated from other conductors in accordance with 820.44(F)(1), (F)(2), and (F)(3).
    (1) Electric Light or Power. The coaxial cable shall have a separation of at least 100 mm (4 in.) from electric light, power, Class 1, or non–power-limited fire alarm circuit conductors not in raceway or cable, or shall be permanently separated from conductors of the other system by a continuous and firmly fixed nonconductor in addition to the insulation on the wires.
    (2) Other Communications Systems. Coaxial cable shall be installed so that there will be no unnecessary interference in the maintenance of the separate systems. In no case shall the conductors, cables, messenger strand, or equipment of one system cause abrasion to the conductors, cable, messenger strand, or equipment of any other system.
    (3) Lightning Conductors. Where practicable, a separation of at least 1.8 m (6 ft) shall be maintained between any coaxial cable and lightning conductors.
    FPN: For additional information regarding overhead wires and cables, see ANSI C2-2007, National Electric Safety Code, Part 2, Safety Rules for Overhead Lines.

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    From the OP
    "Should be there be an escape opening from the deck to the ground?"

    "No because that does not lead from a bedroom.

    Now, if from a bedroom, that raises other issues and the answer will likely change."


    Jerry, why do you say that?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    From the OP
    "Should be there be an escape opening from the deck to the ground?"

    "No because that does not lead from a bedroom.

    Now, if from a bedroom, that raises other issues and the answer will likely change."

    Jerry, why do you say that?

    Rick,

    Because of this: (underlined text)

    R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required.
    Basements and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency and rescue opening. Such opening shall open directly into a public street, public alley, yard or court. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room, but shall not be required in adjoining areas of the basement. Where emergency escape and rescue openings are provided they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Where a door opening having a threshold below the adjacent ground elevation serves as an emergency escape and rescue opening and is provided with a bulkhead enclosure, the bulkhead enclosure shall comply with Section R310.3. The net clear opening dimensions required by this section shall be obtained by the normal operation of the emergency escape and rescue opening from the inside. Emergency escape and rescue openings with a finished sill height below the adjacent ground elevation shall be provided with a window well in accordance with Section R310.2. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.

    Does a deck with a guard constitute "directly into a public street, public alley, yard or court"? The opening would then open "directly into" the deck, which is then accessible to/from the "public street, public alley, yard or court". Just some food for thought.

    Which brings up another interesting point for discussion: In South Florida, and presumably elsewhere, when there was a screen enclosure installed below windows, and shutters were to be installed for hurricane protection, some of us private inspectors started asking "How? How are you going to get to those windows to install the shutters" The screen enclosure screen is there." After a while some of the building officials started listening and they now (at least when I left and in the places I inspected) required an openable hatch be installed in the screen enclosure under those windows sufficiently large to allow for the installation of the shutters (the first openings the screen enclosure people tried to get away with did not even allow a ladder to go through, much less a hurricane panel, much less a persons body holding the panel, much less access to the full window width).

    Okay, that the above screen enclosure and the above window, and that window is an EERO ... How? How do you escape and are can you be rescued? I have no idea why I/we did not think of this before we thought about the hurricane shutter access, but how is one going to escape down onto a screen which is going to collapse when they land on it?

    Those openable panels will not work as they would have to be openable from both the top and the bottom and they would also require "special knowledge", which is not allowed. SO ... who would you address those windows about screen enclosures regarding EERO?



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Thank you for responding
    You have a point... in as much as the way it was written.
    But:
    In the event of a fire or other emergency, I think I would rather go out a door onto to that deck before I crawled out a window. But thats just me I guess. What would you (tell your grandchildren to) do?

    Not having seen what you are talking about (screen enclosure installed below windows), I don't follow you.

    But it did make me think

    On EVERY alarm job I go to. I tell the owner to put Biological Barb wire (rose bush, cactus, holly...) outside the windows. Very effective at keeping someone from going through those windows.
    Now, I may need to include an advisory to keep a pruning sheer nearby.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Thank you for responding
    You have a point... in as much as the way it was written.
    But:
    In the event of a fire or other emergency, I think I would rather go out a door onto to that deck before I crawled out a window. But thats just me I guess. What would you (tell your grandchildren to) do?
    I agree with you, but (as you said) "in as much as the way it was written" ... is a deck allowed for that use?

    Not having seen what you are talking about (screen enclosure installed below windows), I don't follow you.

    But it did make me think

    On EVERY alarm job I go to. I tell the owner to put Biological Barb wire (rose bush, cactus, holly...) outside the windows. Very effective at keeping someone from going through those windows.
    Now, I may need to include an advisory to keep a pruning sheer nearby.
    I would entirely rethink recommending installing those bushes there. All it would take is one child leaning out to talk to another child outside the window and one gets injured on *those bushes YOU recommended* and YOU know who may be receiving a phone call regarding the cost of the emergency room visit and the loss of the sight in the one eye ...

    Not something I ever recommended, intentionally, if those windows are designed and intended to be used for EERO, *I* *did not want anything* blocking them, I've even written up a/c units being in the way, where the a/c unit may actually have helped their ease of escape out the window, but would hinder their rescue from outside and could cause other problems with them crawling out over the a/c unit.

    I always recommend non-threatening 'soft landing' shrubs there if any were to be installed there.

    Having ridden my bicycle into a Spanish bayonet plant ( Floridata: Yucca aloifolia *) when young, I have a healthy respect for bushes with thorns and other poke-'em'-in-the-eye-or-stick-'em barbs, leaves etc. on the plant.

    * from the bottom of that link (I can personally attest to the part I underlined and made bold - some stuck into my head as well as all over ran into it coming over the handle bars, not something you want to try to reflexively wrap your arms around, very painful)
    WARNING
    They don't call it Spanish bayonet because it's named after Señor Bayonet! The tips of the leaves are pointed and sharp! Do not plant Spanish bayonet near walkways, patios or in areas frequented by children and pets. This plant can inflict painful puncture wounds even through heavy clothing!

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    "I have recently inspected a home in Stone Mountain Georgia"

    As soon as I read that, I thought of watching WWF wrestling back in the 70s-early 80s. Crusher Blackwell hailed from Stone Mountain Georgia.

    Good times.


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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    I would like to thank everyone for their input. I have learned lot. I am not sure what the wiring goes to but I sure know that it does not seem right at all.


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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House




    Hum... discussion of the bedroom issue, but no discussion of exit FROM the deck..

    From: Professional Deck Builder: STRUCTURE: Providing for Emergency Egress

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 04-24-2009 at 07:37 AM.
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post



    Hum... discussion of the bedroom issue, but no discussion of exit FROM the deck..

    From: Professional Deck Builder: STRUCTURE: Providing for Emergency Egress
    Michael,

    While that article stated that met code, the code I'm reading does not allow that.

    From the 2006 IRC.

    R310.5 Emergency escape windows under decks and porches.
    Emergency escape windows are allowed to be installed under decks and porches provided the location of the deck allows the emergency escape window to be fully opened and provides a path not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height to a yard or court.

    Yes, that article says to discuss this with your AHJ, but even if you could convince them, can you convince a jury when that turn into Fry Room - Basement because the hatch was stuck, someone had placed something over it, etc.?

    Or, leaving the opening and then putting a guard around it, now the ladder would need to extend all the way to the top of the guard ... ?

    I would hope that no AHJ would approve that, and, if one did, they they were also named in the lawsuit as, by approving that, they would have stepped outside their shielding umbrella and be on their own dime in defending themselves.

    By the way, that 'opening in the deck' would need to be the same size as the window well, or greater, to allow for proper and safe access.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Doesn't look like a IRC townhome looks like a pre-IBC built townhome.

    Is that slider the second main egress? Looks like the backyard/sideyard with its new retaining wall and fence is a firetrap. No access for firefighting and no egress/escape path. See some of the units have adjacent egress windows adjacent to enclosed patio/deck, this one and the next one don't.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 04-30-2009 at 06:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Rear Deck of a Town House

    Quote Originally Posted by Ewell Lammy View Post

    I am not sure what the wiring goes to -------
    .
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