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," or something along those lines. While those things may sound stern and nit-picky, they really are safety commentaries.
My post the other day about the Deck Trampoline may have seemed ridiculously funny and the title delivered the post in a funny way. But it really is a safety issue. That deck provided fodder for a dozen posts, which I won't do. My advice for whoever buys that house (because my clients wisely ran away like scared little girls) is to rip it down. It is unsafe. And I'm not just talking about the deck!
Sometimes things aren't as they appear.
My routine when I walk out onto a deck is to push on the guardrails. Why? Because we all have the habit of leaning on a rail when we are next to one. I am checking on the safety of the rail.
If it is wobbly my job is to determine why. The rails on this deck were extremely weak and wobbly.
Look carefully at this corner post. There is a lot wrong here.
The decking is notched around the post. The lower guard rail is inappropriately attached (as was the top rail). The balusters are nailed on with one nail, and all were rusting, which indicates interior nails were used. All of that is not, what we call, "best practice," and screams unprofessional work.
When something is unprofessional on a deck, mostly everything else will be too.
But why the wobble?
The notched post is an indicator that the deck is not secured properly to the post. The connection should be a through bolt.
On this deck, the connection on both sides was provided by three nails! And they were rusting too! Exterior applications should always use nails, or screws, or bolts - materials - that are made for outdoors use!
But look at the bottom of that corner post! It is merely resting on top of the deck column! There were seven guardrail posts and ALL were installed this way.
The deck is only 5' off the ground. BUT IT IS STILL DANGEROUS!! And dangerous for anybody!
My recommendation: You know what happens when we assume. When you see a deck, don't assume it is correct unless you have a home inspector look at it first! Every year we hear the stories of a deck collapse and subsequent injury. There are reasons for that. Hire a home inspector! Lean safely, my friend...