Chicago porch danger still exists

Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection

It has been a long time since my last blog (2008) talk about brain freeze so lets break the ice with a subject I care about that involves saving lives.

Back in 2003 13 people died when a porch deck in Chicago's Lincoln Park collapsed.The porch was not built to support the weight of those on it and was built incorrectly.This led to a citywide crackdown on porch code violations 

The city had a special task force to crackdown for 3 years but old news and fading memories caused them to disband it in 2006.

Not sure what they did during those 3 years as it seems like half the porches I inspect are not safe or are violating city code.

Last month we had another one with injuries and many before that but this one made bigger news as the same thing happened in Tinley Park the night before.

There are many different problems making them unsafe but the biggest I see are ledger board connections.

Contractors often with little skills come in and nail these supporting boards in to brick.Nails are not made to be used in brick and these boards must be bolted in.

If you are not sure what a ledger board is this photo shows the picture on an actual porch I inspected the day after that last collapse in September.

The board is nailed in and is pulling out of the wall causing tears in the wall covering which in turn just happen to be causing water intrusion and mold to be introduced to the inside walls.

Nails used to support ledger board

This very same day I went to visit the site of a porch collapse where 10 people were injured at the 3700 block of north Ashland here in Chicago.

I was in luck as the clean up crew allowed me on to the property to inspect the site.

Most of it had been cleaned up but from what I saw a large reason for the porch falling was due to lack of once again improper ledger board support.

Here are a few pics what I saw. Bear in mind 10 people were on it at the time and 4 went to the hospital.

Location of ledger board that failed
















Debris from porch collapse

Why does the city let this stuff go under the radar.

I have done a few inspections for Condo associations that got fined by the city up to 10 years after buildings were rehabbed by developers and passed by city inspectors then the association gets left holding the bag years later.

Think your client does not need the inspector to look at the whole building and inspection is between the walls? (wrong)

These porches are not cheap and the last one I looked at was costing the association 18,000 per porch to rebuild.

Talk about special assessments.

Stay tuned as I am not anywhere near finished here and I would like to go over the codes and show thumbnails of the newspaper headlines once I go over the Active Rain rules on that.

Comments (10)

Risa Liebster
Ramsey-Shilling Associates - Los Angeles, CA
Toluca Lake Real Estate

Consumers need to know that just because something is no longer being crowed about in the news that potential dangers still exist. This shouldn't have to happen every few years. "Watchdogs" like you are so important.

Oct 15, 2010 08:47 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Thank you for visiting Risa.

I will come back here and start talking about this subject in more depth later on as I have a lot to say about it.Been holding back to long.

(insider note)my blog post shows 11;12 et) Hope that is not an issue.

Explanation on this private message to Risa can be found on her blog so please visit her.

Oct 15, 2010 09:07 PM
Jeffrey Jonas- Minnesota Home Inspector
Critical Eye Property Inspections / JRJ Consultants - Owatonna, MN

Looking forward to your additional blogging about this "universal" problem that is not limited to Chicago. It matters not where you live.

If you or someone you know has a porch, have it inspected for defective materials and workmanship! Don't forget about yearly maintenance checks. Nothing lasts forever, and materials degrade over time. What was in good condition last year, may be an accident waiting to happen this year.

Good post Bob!

Oct 18, 2010 02:49 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Thanks Jeff

Waiting for my Rainmaker status to return so others can see this.

Promise to add more and thanks for visiting.

Oct 18, 2010 05:54 AM
Christopher Currins
CBC Home Inspections - Godfrey, IL
Metro East Home Inspector - IL.

Good info Condo Bob. Another example why it's best to inspect a deck from the ground up.

Oct 18, 2010 02:14 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Yep porch ,deck or balcony.

Part two coming tonight.

Just wish I could reverse them  as part one will be below part two.

Anyone know a trick?

Oct 18, 2010 02:37 PM
Kevin Szprychel

I'm the President of the Troy Carmen Condo Association and we called on Bob Elliot to do an inspection (Chicago Property Inspection) and I'm not exaggerating in any way that this guy was awesome! He pointed out the exact problems we had with our building (not just the deck) and the actions that would enable us to pass city code/inspection. We put bids out on Bob's recommendations and passed inspection. Thanks again Bob! I still email with Bob here and there, he's not only a dedicated professional but a good friend as well. Highly Recommended!!

Oct 27, 2010 06:45 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Thank you so much for the kind words Kevin.

I send my clients to your website when they ask for HVAC referrals since you have a list of contractors rather than just one or two guys and that gives them options.

Hope it is OK but I am going to post a link to your service for anyone to see that lives in the Chicago area as it is a great resource and keeps me from recommending a contractor they may not like as much as I do while getting them someone good at the same time.

Oct 28, 2010 09:41 AM


    My bakc porch is dangerous, and my association will not do anything! Any help possible will be greatly appreciated. 

                            Thanks so much,

                                             Tedi Smola

Jan 14, 2012 06:27 PM

Porches can represent a real problem and its best to hire a professional. We can examine you porch in no time for free and then we can see what steps need to be taken. Just contact us on our web page at

Mar 15, 2018 12:15 AM