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  1. #1
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    Default Inferior deck construction

    27 year old property had a deck that looked to be about 20 years old. The construction looked like the homeowner and a couple friends did it. The ledger board was bolted to the house properly and the deck appeared safe. The railing had a bit of wobble/movement but pushing my body weight against them held up. So while I did not view the deck as unsafe, I did see that the construction was somewhat subpar which is why the railing had movement. I could have offered suggestions on how to "shore up" the railings and such, but was wondering IF I even need to mention poor construction that is still safe?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    If a deck is "wobbly", write it up, least you get a fat letter from the surviving spouse's attorney.

    And you described a wobbly deck/guard/etc.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Well, not the deck, but parts of guardrail. I've always seen inspectors push their body weight against a railing to determine if it would hold, and if so, then its ok. I mean I've seen many railings that have some movement but not sure where the line is drawn. So I saw this guideline:
    Guardrail strength requirements: The International Building Code mandates that guardrails must be able to sustain a 200-pound force at the mid-span between posts, without excessive deflection.

    So I guess my question is, what is "excessive deflection", it seems very vague, meaning it is subjective to each inspector.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Miller View Post
    Well, not the deck, but parts of guardrail. I've always seen inspectors push their body weight against a railing to determine if it would hold, and if so, then its ok.
    You originally said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Miller View Post
    The railing had a bit of wobble/movement but pushing my body weight against them held up.
    It shouldn't have any "wobble" (which I read as 'looseness').

    The guard (the top rail) should be tightly held in place, and, with the 200 pounds horizontal force, will flex but hold.

    Any "wobble"/"looseness" indicates a failed connection (a connection which is loose or loosening) and which could catastrophically fail (give way) at any given time. It is unlikely to give way while unloaded (no one or nothing leaning against it), it's failure will likely occur when it is most needed to not fail (when someone falls against it or leans against it too hard).

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Understand, my terminology is a little off. Greatly appreciate the input.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Also, my reply was using 'general' applicability as there are specific load requirements which I did not include.

    The IRC requires the following: (bold and underlining are mine)

    Table R301.5 Minimum Uniformly Distributed Live Loads (in pounds per square foot)

    My note, while the table is titled "uniformly distributed" live loads, the table has two columns: a) "Uniform Load (psf)" and b) "Concentrated Load (lb)".

    There are two applicable loads: "Guards" (see notes h and i) and "Guard in-fill components" (see notes f and h).

    Guard In-fill note f: f. Guard in-fill components (all those except the handrail), balusters and panel fillers shall be designed to withstand a horizontally applied normal load of 50 pounds on an area equal to 1 square foot. This load need not be assumed to act concurrently with any other live load requirement.

    h. Glazing ... (being as we are not addressing a glazed guard, I didn't type note h)

    Guard Top Rail note i: i. Where the top of a guard system is not required to serve as a handrail, the single concentrated load shall be applied at any point along the top, in the vertical downward direction and in the horizontal direction away from the walking surface. Where the top of a guard is also serving as the handrail, a single concentrated load shall be applied in any direction at any point along the top. Concentrated loads shall not be applied concurrently.

    Note that the guard top rail has two distinctly different requirements: the first is with the load applied vertically down and another load applied horizontally away from the walking surface - and the loads are not applied at the same time; the second applied in "any direction" if it also serves as a handrail (because that is the load a handrail is required to withstand).

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 06-29-2021 at 02:57 PM. Reason: added this with edit for clarity: " - and the loads are not applied at the same time"
    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Write up the deficiencies as you saw them. I would hold off suggesting how to shore something up, or repair the defect.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Inferior deck construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Write up the deficiencies as you saw them. I would hold off suggesting how to shore something up, or repair the defect.
    Absolutely agree with Jack.

    Unless one is an engineer ... and working under their engineering hat at the time ... do not suggest "how to" do something.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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