What I Don't Know Can Hurt You

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

You know the old saying; what you don't know can't hurt you. That logic is completely ludicrous. History is full of unknowns that have sickened or killed countless people because of ignorance. The use of lead and asbestos in buildings is a good example. Using these materials was done out of a lack of knowledge for the eventual consequences. Nothing bad occurred to anyone right away, it often took many years for an illness to manifest itself in an individual.

Let me take this in a slightly different direction. As a home inspector one of the most common added structures I see to a home is a deck. They are by far one of the most incorrectly built structures I find. Why? Because I believe most everyone assumes it is an easy structure to build. That includes professionals as well as homeowners.

I recently found a deck, actually two decks, and an addition with several serious structural flaws. In the picture at right is a deck attached to an elevated addition or more accurately an enclosed deck.

The yellow arrow is showing where a joist hanger would be expected to be installed. Not one was found along the entire length of this ledger. The joists instead were toe nailed to the board. This method does not prevent lateral withdrawal and is not a strong attachment.

The pink arrows indicate missing brackets for the support pier. Piers must be attached to the structure in such a way as to prevent lateral and vertical movement. The pier next to this one was beginning to defect at the base toward the addition.

The ledger board for the deck was attached to the addition structure with nails only. Ledgers should be attached to a structure using large bolts. Nails will rust and eventually fail.

There were several other issues found with these two structures, but for the sake of brevity I will save those for another blog.

Whether these errors were made out of ignorance, cheapness, laziness or a combination of all three is impossible to say. In fact some of these "errors" may have been acceptable building practices at the time of construction. There are many variables as to why to be entertained.

The bottom line is these two structures are unsafely built and some are beginning to fail. They require repair now, not later.

As simple as decks seem, there is much more to building a safe and lasting structure than there appears on the surface. A resource for good deck building practices and information can be found on the Simpson Strong Tie web site.

So you see what I don't know can very certainly hurt you.

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our other high tech services click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services. Learn more about our energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Julianna Hind 05/14/2009 03:09 AM
Topic:
Home Buying
Location:
Connecticut New Haven County
Groups:
ASHI
Connecticut Professionals
The Ninety-ninth Percentile
Home Inspector's Corner
Blogs Happen...
Tags:
deck safety
wallingford ct ashi certified home inspectors
structural issues
wallingford ct ashi certified home inspections

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Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

Glad that was you under that one. I think that kind of problem is widespread everywhere. Bad decks are rampant. I especially love it when they are about 16' high.

May 14, 2009 03:49 AM #1
Ambassador
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

James my vote goes to "ignorance"----with a touch of "arrogance."

May 14, 2009 04:22 AM #2
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Steven, The other deck at this home was about 10 feet off the ground with similar issues.

Charlie, Yes ignorance and arrogance can at times go hand in hand. A big problem here in CT is there are zero training requirements for contractors. Which obviously increases the ignorance factor.

May 14, 2009 05:56 AM #3
Rainmaker
179,891
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

James, sounds like here, you have to be registered to remodel (I didn't say trained and licensed), but you can build houses for 10 years with no training, registration, license, or anything else.  Funny how that works (or doesn't)?

May 14, 2009 07:00 AM #4
Rainer
9,874
Mike Schulz
Affordable Home Inspections - Raleigh, NC
Raleigh NC Inspector

James,

Decks like that are quite commonly found on DYI and older homes. Surprised we don't hear about more collapses.

See you on facebook :-) www.houseinspections.com

May 14, 2009 08:52 AM #5
Rainmaker
382,620
Matt Listro
National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro - Vernon, CT
Your Credit Repair Expert

Hi James: Thanks for the education.  I thought the picture looked fine until I read your post!

:)

May 14, 2009 12:00 PM #6
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jack, Same system here, registered not trained or licensed.  Some of the contractors act like they are however. See Charlies comment.

Mike, I am surprised as well we don't see more catostrphic deck failures.

Matt, I believe most people would not recognize the problems. Hey that's why I am a trained professional. :-0

May 14, 2009 12:16 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

I could walk it, no problem. Home inspector overreaction in my book. I have my outfit for your big barbecue. I am so looking forward to the tender morsels you have promised.

Nutsy

May 15, 2009 02:10 AM #8
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Nutsy, An appetizing outfit. I'm glad you're looking forward to becoming...um sampling tasty morsels.

May 15, 2009 03:53 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,843,715
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You mean two toe-nails on a joist aren't enough?

Everything you identify here is more common than not!

As you well know...

 

May 17, 2009 02:24 AM #10
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jay, Way too common. I find them built wrong more than right.

May 18, 2009 12:23 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

I have a very squirrely view of things, which does make it somewhat superior, as you know. I am concerned because my beady little eyes detect wee-wee stains on those joists. How do you explain that. Nutsy

May 25, 2009 06:52 AM #12
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Nutsy, Those would be water stains from the rain storm earlier. Your powers of observation may be sharp, but your intellect is dull.

May 25, 2009 10:28 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James!

That is in direct conflict with information from Mr Charles. He said that it never rains in Connecticut. How do you explain that one Mr Smarty Pants.

Nutsy

May 25, 2009 11:30 AM #14
Rainer
9,874
Mike Schulz
Affordable Home Inspections - Raleigh, NC
Raleigh NC Inspector

OK I'm taking it you two know each other and have drifted off topic, if not WTH!

May 25, 2009 11:38 AM #15
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Nutsy you are confused---most certainly was not this Mr Charles you were talking to.

May 25, 2009 11:44 AM #16
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Mike, yes the three of us (four if you count Nutsy) are always adrift:)

May 25, 2009 11:45 AM #17
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, Ditto what Charlie said. We are an off topic group.

May 25, 2009 12:04 PM #18
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James Quarello

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