Having A Rest

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Decking should be secure, attaching one member to another in various forms of secure and strong ways that engineers have spent a lot of time thinking about, designing and manufacturing.  There are reasons for that!

Deck codes change all the time.  They do because, typically, there is an accident due to insufficient attachment, overload or just poor construction.  Then thinking changes and they decide to change the standards to include stronger, more or different stuff!

But, everything now, from top to bottom, is securely attached to something else.  Secure attachment does not include toe nails, or one member merely resting onto another, no matter how strong that supportive structure may be.

One thing decks are not made for is the HOT TUB.  Hot tubs are heavy! 

I understand that a hot tub that is 84"x84" can hold between 400 and 500 gallons.  If I remember my 7th grade science, a gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds.

A small fiberglass hot tub with jets can weigh 300 pounds or so.  A fancy one made for 6 or 8 people can weigh 1000 pounds, empty!


Let's say you have an average weight of 165 for each of 8 people in a full, large hot tub.  What's that? 

500 x 8.33 = 4165
plus 1000 pounds
plus 8 x 165 = 1320

I get 6485 pounds!  Wow, that's a ton of weight!

So to speak...

Scrambling under a deck, when I see various things merely resting on other things, and all the weight to boot, I get exercised!

Someone is asking for a problem!

Look above.  A corner is resting on the middle of a column.  And necessarily as those vent flaps kind of need to open.

And to the left, the exterior beam for the deck is resting on a built-up support (using interior, not galvanized, lag bolts which are rusting!) with another joist and the stairs merely nailed to that!  This is haphazard at best, and that is not a good technique when so much weight is in the picture.

This is a very large hot tub and I am going to assume it's about 6000 pounds when full of people!  Decks can be strong, but over time is the wood able to handle that dead, then live, load?  Only the structure can determine that.

My recommendation:  decks are always best supported by a patio on the earth.  IF a deck is used, and they can be, it must be constructed such that it is capable of handling this load over time.  When joists and under support is merely HAVING A REST on top of something else, and not securely attached, the results cannot be good.



Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560



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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Tim - I would think 30 people could easily outweigh a deck's support structure.  The codes cannot anticipate everything!

Richie - can you imagine having a nice, quiet rest in a hot tub and have the deck collapse and fall 8 or 10'!?

Jun 24, 2012 11:41 PM #20
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I personally know too many people who have been injured from decks breaking.  My opinion the best deck is a patio made of something concrete and nestled tightly upon Mother Earth! 

Jun 24, 2012 11:44 PM #21
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

After reading another post about deck safety, I had my own deck checked out.  Not good at all!  It was not to code and they had used shims all over the place to level the support posts so they were in contact with the deck.  One support post showed evidence of shifting.  It now has excellent support.  I just did not know what I did not know.

Jun 25, 2012 12:04 AM #22
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

Good morning Jay. When I first looked at the pic my eyes went straight to that corner post. I have been reading your blog too long, you didn't surprise me today.

Jun 25, 2012 01:52 AM #23
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Building decks always involves "calculated risks"---in every case the risks must be calculated or all bets are off.

Jun 25, 2012 03:15 AM #24
Steve Baklaich
RE/MAX Results St Cloud Mn real estate - Saint Cloud, MN
Treating Buyers & Sellers to Full Service Always.

This is why I always recommend my Buyers have a professional home inspection. Thanks for the great blog and photos Jay.

Jun 25, 2012 03:43 AM #25
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

I can't agree more. So many decks are either not constructed properly or maintained it's scary. No one seems to think about them till something bad happens. Hopefully good inspectors are educating buyers of these issue.

Jun 25, 2012 06:04 AM #26
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
Hi Jay, This is some great information and I had certainly never considered the excessive weight factor. By understanding this, if one should ever build a deck, one must think ahead as to whether there is ever intended to be a hot tub placed on it. It would also be a good disclosure for a seller to remind a buyer that their deck was not designed to hold a hot a hot tub. ( most decks wouldn't have the needed support for a hot tub). Then if a Buyer puts one on there and things fall apart, the seller would not be liable.
Jun 25, 2012 06:39 AM #27
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Mike - that would be the safest deck of all!

Kathryn - smart to have it checked out.  I don't like that shim technique.  It simply is not professional.

Randy - glad you are so informed!  It pays to learn what we can.  I like AR for that reason.

Shadow - all bets were off on this one.  They will have to check it out professionally.

Jun 25, 2012 09:06 AM #28
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Steve - you are welcome!  The photos are to instruct as much as the words.

Rob - and so many have problems.  It is ashame, especially when they get added to so they can accommodate this or that.

William - I don't know who would be responsible if a hot tub was simply placed on a deck!  Maybe the hot tub company for not forewarning as to weight!

Jun 25, 2012 09:08 AM #29
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

I'm not an inspector but I agree with you Jay hot tubs should be on solid surfaces. Thanks for the photos.

Jun 25, 2012 09:56 AM #30
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's a lot of heavy stuff there Adrian!  Best to be on something really, really supportive!

Jun 25, 2012 10:05 AM #31
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Jay, Another great post. I have enjoyed reading the comments also. You are right on with your water weight at 8.33 lbs. a gallon. That is the weight at 60 degrees. The weight will vary slightly as the temperature changes. The warmer the lighter and the cooler the heavier. My biggest fear of decks is the railings. I think I have told you this before, I had a friend die when a high deck railing broke and he fell about 15 feet.  

Jun 25, 2012 12:31 PM #32
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

Thanks for the confirmation - I always felt this way too, but having you confirm makes it good!

Jun 25, 2012 01:16 PM #33
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Good feature. I am in the midst of building a deck right now, over a concrete patio. A hot tub maybe will be added later.

Jun 25, 2012 01:51 PM #34
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Good morning Jay congrats on the feature (again) :~).  Anyway it looks like my handy work if I did such things.  Not a handyman at all Duct tape is my rule

Jun 25, 2012 08:52 PM #35
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I don't remember that Tom, but you probably did say.  The rails are crucially important.  Even a fall from not so high can be fatal depending on how one lands.

Attachments are the most important thing on decks Joy.  If that was the confirmation, glad to do it!

I think hot tubs "buried" in the deck, into which you step, not climb, and resting on concrete are very attractive installations Erica.

Jun 25, 2012 08:55 PM #36
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

They forgot duct tape completely on this installation James, another reason to condemn it.

Jun 25, 2012 08:55 PM #37
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Great points, Jay!  Hot tubs in decks always concern me too!  Now I know with valid reason!!!

Jun 26, 2012 04:53 PM #38
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

They can be supported on a deck DeeDee, but must be done very, very well!

Jun 26, 2012 08:49 PM #39
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