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Thread: Attached deck

  1. #1
    Ryan Stouffer's Avatar
    Ryan Stouffer Guest

    Default Attached deck

    Gents, I did an inspection last week and the home had a small attached deck and the columns of the deck were just landscape stones. So I mentioned in the report that this may not be a strong enough support system. The realtor trying to sell the home called the city building inspector and this is what he wrote. What are your thoughts?

    Per your request I visited the house at Heber City.
    The deck in question to my knowledge was not built at the time the house was constructed. No separate building permit was issued for the deck. In reviewing the construction of the deck I found the platform to be soundly built using correct materials and fasteners, however, the supports to grade appear to be only to a shallow paver rather than a footing. At the time the house was built the governing building code was the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC). This code exempts from permits detached accessory structures under 200 sqft. While this deck is not detached from the house it is built less than 30 above grade and has less than 4 risers on the steps to grade. Considering the square footage being under 200 sqft, the use proper materials, the exemption from needing a handrail or a guard it is my opinion that no building permit would have been required.[/font]
    Currently the 2006 IRC has exemption from permits on structures less than 120 sqft. This deck is also smaller than this limit. Both the 2003 and 2006 IRC have exemptions for free standing decks under 400 sqft from being supported by footings extending below local frost depths. While it is true that the deck is attached to the house it could easily meet the code by being un-attached even though it is below the square footage requiring a permit. It is my opinion that the size, height, and attachment of the deck adequately meets the intent of the code of the time for life, health, and safety.Best Regards

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Attached deck

    I have to mostly agree with the city inspector. Based on size and height off of ground it isn't a big issue. Our local Code has similar exemptions like he listed. I've seen a few guys have to eat crow when treating these little decks as if they were real porches. I wouldn't make a big deal out of it in my report as far as any safety concerns. However, I would explain the 'footing' situation and the potential long term problem. If the backyard is fairly dry and the soil stable, it probably won't sink by any noticeable measure. If there's a lot of rain and water pooling back there and the soil is poor, the deck will probably sink over time. I think a point to remember is potential sinking, NOT hazardous collapse. I would also note that sinking could affect the wall and siding depending on attachment.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Attached deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Stouffer View Post
    The deck in question to my knowledge was not built at the time the house was constructed. No separate building permit was issued for the deck.

    This code exempts from permits detached accessory structures under 200 sqft. While this deck is not detached
    I would show that letter to the building official and get it on building department letterhead that the deck did not need a permit even though it does not meet the exemption from requiring a permit.

    Not the building inspector, and not just something the inspector wrote, but something to "take to the bank" for the owner, your client, and all future persons that the city is on record, through the Building Official, that the deck is acceptable as built and did not require a permit when built and does not now need a permit.

    If the Building Official issues that letter on department letterhead, that deck becomes "legal" as it now stands.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Attached deck

    If the Building Official issues that letter on department letterhead, that deck becomes "legal" as it now stands.
    JP: Maybe it is just me, but that sounds ominous.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attached deck

    Aaron,

    Is that a "deck" or is that a "porch"?

    Would the same decision be rendered if the inspector called that a "porch"?

    "DECK. An exterior floor supported on at least two opposing sides by an adjacent structure, and/or posts, piers or other independent supports."

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Attached deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    Is that a "deck" or is that a "porch"?

    Would the same decision be rendered if the inspector called that a "porch"?

    "DECK. An exterior floor supported on at least two opposing sides by an adjacent structure, and/or posts, piers or other independent supports."
    JP: Given that definition, the depicted structure would be a porch. But, after having read the AHJ's "decision", I feel that he would have just as handily tap-danced around the porch as the deck.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Attached deck

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    I feel that he would have just as handily tap-danced around the porch as the deck.
    Aaron,

    Agreed, Fred Astaire had nothing on that inspector when it comes to dancing around things, not even in this one: Royal Wedding - Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling, Public Domain Comedy | pdcomedy.com

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Attached deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    Agreed, Fred Astaire had nothing on that inspector when it comes to dancing around things, not even in this one: Royal Wedding - Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling, Public Domain Comedy | pdcomedy.com
    JP: ~~ ~~


  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Rolla, MO
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    126

    Default Re: Attached deck

    This points out a typical misperception many clients and Realtors have about city code inspections. Building codes are designed to provide the minimum guidelines to insure health and safety issues. They do not specifically address usability and long term performance. I do not disagree with the city inspector's comments but it only gives your client part of the information they need. I would note on the HI report the porch/deck is not supported on substantial footings and uneven and/or excessive settlement may occur.


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