Agent Safety Reminder

Home Inspector with Realty Check Inspection Service License #232


deck collapse  

Without Warning, Chaos!

Sept. 7th 2006  - A second story deck collapse injured four members of a family in Lawrenceville, GA. as the victims were deciding whether to buy the home. "It could have been avoided if the deck was properly attached to the house."

Most of the time we don't think about it because we do it everyday without a second thought.  You walk out onto a deck to show your clients the homes features or spectacular views.  With the recent reports of personal injuries in conjunction with home decking systems, we at Realty Check would like to remind you that you can never be to careful about your clients and your own personal safety when showing a home.

  • Most decks that have a catastrophic failure are caused either by faulty construction, improper attachment to the home, or simply from rot and decay. - Realty Check 

REMIND YOURSELF!  You are out there before any Listing or Buyers inspection has been performed.  So on behalf of Realty Check Inspection Service, be careful and be safe! 

  • There is a clearly defined "collapse season", which is from June to October. During this season, more than 70% of reported collapses occur. - Deck-Lok

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Rebecca Savitski
NC List for Less Realty Incorporated - Raleigh, NC
NC Real Estate Listings
We have deck issues here mostly either decaying or improperly secured to the home. A lot of due it yourselfers out there.
Jun 07, 2007 11:42 AM #1
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
I know a realtor who broke his neck at a deck last year. Not sure if he fell off, or what. Missing handrails, bad guardrails, rot, not lag screws can be big problems. The worst is when the decking is rotten and they paint over it, so initially it does not look so bad. Decks are something we take for granted but should not. I was at a party once and a deck came apart. It was a low one but the goofs who built it, and invited 30 people over, had built it so they could take it apart and move it to their next house. The tinker toys failed. It was low and nobody was hurt, other than barks on the shins. A realtor friend stepped through a bad deck board -- one leg was hanging through, the other was not. Bad bruises. Know another realtor who was hanging with a joist under each arm. That is a look! It happened enough years back he laughs about it now.
Jun 07, 2007 11:43 AM #2
Jeff Fulgham
T.U.P. Realty - Tupelo, MS
Broker E-Pro ABR
Why do you think the collapses happen in that tiem frame?
Jun 07, 2007 11:50 AM #3
Roger Stensland
The Cascade Team Real Estate - Maple Valley, WA
Let's Move!
I think that improper construction is probably the leading cause of deck failures.  Improper (no) maintenance is probably another reason that elevated decks fail.  Both houses next to me have decks that need to be completely rebuilt or torn down because they are unsafe to walk on due to no maintenance over the years.  They were properly built.
Jun 07, 2007 11:55 AM #4
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

this is a good reminder to stay safe when we are looking at homes.

Patricia aulson/Lic NH/ME/MA

Jun 07, 2007 12:03 PM #5
Peter Doane
Realty Check Inspection Service - Olympia, WA
Olympia Wa Home Inspector


It probably has to do with the fact that people are out using thier decks more because of the nice weather.  BBQ's, Outdoor parties etc,.. the added weight of having a larger number of people out on a already "deteriorated" deck could be the main factor they collapse in this time frame.  That dosent mean no one cant be injured any other part of the year.  I hope this answered your question.


Jun 07, 2007 12:44 PM #6


This is a very good post

Thank You

Jun 07, 2007 05:32 PM #7
Jessica Lamb

Hello Peter, I had clients slip off of a deck that was just poorly maintaned. It was rainy and the deck was slick. It could have been avoided with some type of traction material. My poor client had a serious spinal injury. JL

Jun 07, 2007 09:27 PM #8
Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375
Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions" - Grand Rapids, MI
Real Estate Services You can Trust!

Hey Peter, nice public service announcement post.

Jun 16, 2007 04:21 PM #9
Peter, thanks for this message. Three days ago, I was showing a new construction to a couple and their 3 yr old daughter. The builder actually unlocked the door for us and spoke with me for a few minutes about the new subdivision. My clients and I stepped out onto the deck and were discussing how much they loved the lay of the land, and the deck collapsed under us. The husband has extensive damage to his back. I, and his wife, have multiple bruises, neck pain and muscle pain.The little girl (thank God) was uninjured. The deck hadn't been properly supported. The builder failed to mention this fact, and failed to post a warning on the door leading to the deck. This is some serious negligence. From now on, I will think twice before ever stepping onto a deck with potential buyers. You just never know. I wish all agents knew about this danger. Here's wishing a safe 2007 to all fellow REALTORS.
Jun 20, 2007 06:39 PM #10
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
Many times builders don't even add the decks till after final inspection.  Then they have their least experienced person do the building.  Seldom, on new homes, do I find properly built decks.
Jul 04, 2007 12:38 PM #11
Chuck Willman - Alpine, UT
Another reminder to look things over before puting yourself or your buyers in harms way.
Sep 11, 2007 12:31 PM #12
Harold Miller
Miller Home Inspection - Camano Island, WA
Everett Home Inspector

Hey Peter;

Great blog, I just posted one the other day on this subject. Did not know you already wrote about it.

Here is the link;

As home inspectors we can never stress too much the importance of deck safety. We see too many of them that are deficient in one or more ways. The Journal of Light Construction had a great article on the subject of proper installation a couple years ago. It is archived on their website.

Hope you are keeping busy!

Oct 26, 2007 12:04 PM #13
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Peter Doane

Olympia Wa Home Inspector
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