deck safety: Cut And Paste Deck Repairs - 04/22/16 08:15 PM
Cut and paste deck repairs.
This homeowner had a weak deck.  Built by him or prior it doesn't matter.  It had many flaws and was damaging the house in addition to sagging and swaying.
The homeowner, now seller, wanted to shore it up!  A little cut here, a little paste there, and viola!
Choosing what appeared to be old logs that had been used for shaping a garden, a frame was made where two posts were nailed to a "beam," and the posts merely resting on top of another piece of log laying on the ground.  No footer that!
You can see the yellow arrows.
Also, … (14 comments)

deck safety: Decks - Not Attached Correctly, Not Supported Correctly - Dangerous - 05/16/14 09:22 PM
We home inspectors see this all the time - decks - not attached correctly, not supported correcly - dangerous.
These photos are all from the same deck!  And it has been there a while.
Example number one.
The outside joist.
The joists of the deck are erratically spaced, some 22" and some 24".
They rest on an exterior beam with a small cantilever.

Noticing how things are pulling apart?  The first outside joist was merely nailed to the deck joists.  And the guardrail is bolted to a deck joist!  It got loose, so as a repair they nailed another outside … (14 comments)

deck safety: What Do You See Wrong Here? - 03/21/13 07:39 PM
So often we see things that are wrong, but maybe we don't know why.  Or we see one wrong thing but not another.  Yesterday Charlie Buell had a post about that very idea.
During the think about purchasing this house (a log cabin with lots and lots of problems) the family was divided.  The buyer's mother was vehemently opposed to her daughter buying it. 
After seeing this house, and talking with the neighbor's, I saw many things that were wrong and heard about more. 
So when my client arrived I asked her into my office. 
We sat on a rock together, … (19 comments)

deck safety: Tippie Toes - 06/28/12 08:46 PM
DECK STAIRS SHOULD BE SOLID AND NOT RESTING ON THEIR TIPPIE TOES!
Go up a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going up while on your whole foot or tip toes?Go down a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going down while on your whole foot or heel?
Suspiciously, this deck installer thinks these deck stairs look and feel more comfortable on their TIPPIE TOES!
This reduces the structural integrity of these stair stringers DRAMATICALLY.  
Look carefully at the photo to the left.  That upper stringer is cracking. 
And peek at how well the lower … (68 comments)

deck safety: Comical Deck, But The Comedy Won't Last Long - 03/20/12 07:22 PM
There were so many things about this deck, I could call it a comical deck, but the comedy won't last long.
It is comical for two reasons:
1.   Flipper has apparently never built a deck.2.   There was a final County inspection of the house with an Occupancy Permit.
Here are two examples of my problems with this deck:
Wonderfully erratic, the nails used for the decking are indoor nails.  Their pattern is haphazard.  This deck is less than one month old and already they are rusting.  As they rust, their attractive pattern is even more evident.  Also, as they rust they … (23 comments)

deck safety: A New Staircase Isn't Always A Stairway To Heaven - 10/02/11 10:28 PM
Sometimes new things impress buyers as they walk around a house, and very often a new staircase isn't always a stairway to heaven.
The deck has been there a while. 
The stairs have not.
There are buyers who're sure, all that glitters is gold,But they're not buying a stairway to heaven.Oooh, they're not buying a stairway to heaven.
The building code limits the maximum stair tread height at 7 3/4".  BUT THE RISER HEIGHT SHOULD BE UNIFORM.
There are reasons for this code.
When walking up stairs the brain remembers the height of each. 
When things vary it is easier to … (20 comments)

deck safety: A Chimney Is Not A Structural Member To Attach To - 08/24/11 11:24 PM
Often times decks are weakened by the way they are attached to a house.  And a chimney should not be used to support the deck's structure.  A chimney is not a structural member to attach to.
This house has two wood-burning fireplaces.
So, to accommodate both flues, which have to be independent, the chimney box is very wide.
The structure for these chimney flues is a mere wooden surround.  It is basically a bump out, attached to the house's structure, but not a part of it.
There is no cantilever inside this chimney to make it a part of the house's … (49 comments)

deck safety: The Inevitable Sagging Of A Lack Of Support - 06/08/11 09:42 AM
I don't know when it was done.  All I know is that this balcony and roof were added sometime after the house was built.  If it was done professionally it was probably not done with the advice of a structural architect or engineer.  From top to bottom it demonstrates the inevitable sagging of a lack of support.
The columns are cracking.
They are attached to the beam with a small strap.
The guardrails have a ladder pattern.  And this may have been acceptable when this deck was built, if it was built a while ago.
There are only two supports - … (43 comments)

deck safety: Carriage Bolts And Deck Attachments - 06/05/11 12:16 AM
My recent blog about deck post attachment, Don't Trim Those Toe Nails, has created a firestorm of interest from people nationwide.  Responses from ActiveRain, here and off line, as well as home inspectors from other message boards, have indicated quite the interest!  Basically the questions regard the use of carriage bolts in deck construction.
I attended a Simpson Strong-Tie seminar a couple of weeks ago.  They manufacture attachments, sleeves, anchors, connector plates, hangers, well, you name it, for various engineering applications.  You have all seen their products at one time or another.  During the seminar they made it quite evident that … (44 comments)

deck safety: Don't Trim Those Toe Nails! - 06/03/11 12:35 AM
Toe nailing is a valid carpentry technique.  But for the most part it is a temporary tacking of one thing to another by nailing two things together at an angle.  Then proper attachment can be made.  Toe nailing is seldom, if ever, intended for long-term attachment or support with heavy material.
Walking around this deck, only about 4' high, I noticed that every single guardrail post had been toe nailed to the decking!
Don't trim those toe nails!
You can see how substantially attached that post is to the deck (he sarcastically notes).  Many wobbled a lot!  Rock on dude...
Despite … (54 comments)

deck safety: The Dangers Of Kit Decks - 05/11/11 12:40 AM
One of my bugaboos as a home inspector is deck installation.  Or decks in general.  So often installation is incorrect.  And among decks, my least favorite are the kit decks.
What are kit decks?  These are decks that are picked out of a catalog at a hardware store or design center.  They offer different designs, with decks that are put together with panels which fit into slots created by framing.  The patterns are pleasing, checkerboard, herring bone, alternating angles, and so forth.  Different guardrails are offered and you can mix and match and design a deck!  Kit decks have personal appeal.
(31 comments)

deck safety: War Of The Worlds! - 07/18/10 12:49 AM

Don't be fooled!  This alien monster starts as a small seed or even in a small pot. 
And you plant it thinking how one day it will be beautiful, cascading, flowering delight. 
You build a pretty, but light, pergola to house your new little buddy.
But no.  Left unchecked this alien being can, and mercilessly will, take over its perch!
It will take over the world!
This humongous trumpet plant has been growing under, around and over this deck for nearly 20 years.
It is beautiful, especially when flowering, but at this point weighs hundreds of pounds.
And it is tearing up the deck!
 
It is also tearing up … (51 comments)

deck safety: Deck Safety - Don't Trust What You DON'T See - 07/06/10 11:21 PM

This is a solidly-built deck.
It is properly and securely attached to the house.
The stair cases are well done, strong, straight and square.
There are lights at the top of the stairs and staircase.
The deck has been well sealed, not only against water but the sun's UV rays.
And the guardrail is securely through-bolted to a double joist and blocking is there to further add strength.  It is 36" high, as required.
But this deck is unsafe!  Not for what you see, but for what you DON'T see.
Why?
Two reasons:
1.  There are spaces in the guardrails … (55 comments)

deck safety: Deck Safety - Don't Trust What You See - 07/04/10 12:34 AM
We home inspectors have lots of message boards and ways to communicate with each other.  And we do!  We send around photos and report verbiage and ask advice of each other all the time.
Another thing we do is pass around photos of schlock work and we all laugh at some of the unbelievability of what we see!  But even we jaded home inspectors understand safety, and you should know that it is a big part of what we do.  Some of the things we report may seem innocuous and insignificant, like, "There is no anti-tip device installed behind the range," … (43 comments)

 
Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) Rainmaker large

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bristow, VA

More about me…

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Address: Bristow VA 20136

Office: (703) 330-6388

Mobile: (703) 585-7560

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An experienced home inspector's look at current home inspection events and conditions along with his useful recommendations.


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