Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Building & Construction

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 10-18-2011, 08:09 PM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 4
Share |
Default

Serious Deck Problem


I just had a large 2 level deck built on my 40yr old house. PT wood used for the framing and IPE used for the decking....so it is heavy! The contractor only dug the post footings about 12" deep. I live in Nebraska so it gets cold. Code says they should be 42" min. I'm freaking out. THe deck is connected to the house. I'm really worried about frost heaving and dont even know what to do at this point. I know the contractor is going to blow it off like it is fine. Suggestions? In all, both levels of the deck run most of the length of the house which is fairly large. I really dont want structural damage done. Suggestions? I know I need to address this with the contractor but I dont know what I should be looking for him to do as a fix if anything. The ground is clay and pretty compact. They did poor fairly wide footings. Thanks

aj4andy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 08:37 PM   #2
Member
 
robertcdf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 653
Default

Serious Deck Problem


The "contractor" is clearly a hack, a properly licensed and insured deck professional would never do anything like that. Thus the importance of ensuring that you are working with a true professional is now apparent.
What did the inspector say when he came for the footing inspection? You (or the "contractor") did get a permit right? The footings need to be done to proper depth and proper diameter as well.
Call the hack in, tell him he's a hack and have him pay for a true professional to do the project properly.

robertcdf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 09:05 PM   #3
Framing Contractor
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Caldwell, NJ
Posts: 1,758
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by aj4andy View Post
I just had a large 2 level deck built on my 40yr old house. PT wood used for the framing and IPE used for the decking....so it is heavy! The contractor only dug the post footings about 12" deep. I live in Nebraska so it gets cold. Code says they should be 42" min. I'm freaking out. THe deck is connected to the house. I'm really worried about frost heaving and dont even know what to do at this point. I know the contractor is going to blow it off like it is fine. Suggestions? In all, both levels of the deck run most of the length of the house which is fairly large. I really dont want structural damage done. Suggestions? I know I need to address this with the contractor but I dont know what I should be looking for him to do as a fix if anything. The ground is clay and pretty compact. They did poor fairly wide footings. Thanks
If the code says 42" deep, why wasn't it inspected? How come you didn't get permits and inspections? If you did, the inspector would have never passed it. You wouldn't be having a problem now. So why wasn't there permits and inspections?
__________________
Joe Carola
Joe Carola is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 09:15 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 9,519
Default

Serious Deck Problem


I can't wait for this reponse.
__________________
Ron
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
B. Franklin 1759
Ron6519 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 09:23 PM   #5
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 4
Default

Serious Deck Problem


I never thought about it. Was under the impression he was doing that. I dont have a good reason. Trusted him as a referral from a good friend he has done a lot of work for. At some point I was scared to even get an inspector involved not know what the implication were at this point. Some other knowledgable people have seen the build and say it looks like a great job, to code...except for the footings.

At this point I am just lost. Maybe I can't do anything realistically but hope it doesnt heave. I put too much trust in people to do whats right and dont question things enough.

I didnt realize code was 42" until digging online for some code for something else. Ugh.
aj4andy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 09:47 PM   #6
Member
 
robertcdf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 653
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Whatever you do don't just leave it. It will heave for sure and once it does it's going to be a hell of a lot harder to fix. Just because someone is "capable" does not make them competent or professional.
robertcdf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011, 09:48 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 9,519
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Have you spoken with this guy?
Is he a licensed contractor? Does he have insurance? You can't pull a permit around here without current insurance certificates.
No insurance, no permits. But that doesn't explain not digging the footings to code.

I'd call him back and give him an opportunity to fix it. If he doesn't, I'd file a complaint to the governing licensing department.
Minimally, I'd detach the deck from the house before the ground freezes. Make it a freestanding deck with footings to support the deck.
If this issue isn't resolved before the ground freezes at least the house won't suffer any ill effects.
At some point you'll need to pull a permit and get this deck legalized.
__________________
Ron
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
B. Franklin 1759
Ron6519 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 06:49 AM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: PENNSYLVANIA
Posts: 2,212
Default

Serious Deck Problem


I'd be checking everything close especially the ledger board connection to the existing house.
COLDIRON is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to COLDIRON For This Useful Post:
woodworkbykirk (10-20-2011)
Old 10-19-2011, 07:08 AM   #9
Framing Contractor
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Caldwell, NJ
Posts: 1,758
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by aj4andy View Post
At some point I was scared to even get an inspector involved not know what the implication were at this point.
.
At what point was that...the point that when you new you/contractor should have had permits and inspections and didn't? How can you not have known about the permits and inspections? They should have been in your window whether you got them or the contractor did. The OBVIOUS answer now is to call your building inspector and have him come out and tell you what needs to be done. If you don't good luck because your deck was not built to code with improper footings and you have major problems.

Bottom line is that you had a deck built without knowingly having permits and inspections and now you have a big problem and want a fix from the internet. Do the right thing now and call your inspector.
__________________
Joe Carola
Joe Carola is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 07:12 AM   #10
Mod
 
kwikfishron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Kansas (NCK)
Posts: 7,130
Default

Serious Deck Problem


The fix itself is pretty easy especially for a second story deck. You simply temporarily support the deck, remove the post, dig out the 12” footings, punch new holes and pour new footings.

A consultation with a construction attorney would be a good idea but I’d send him a certified letter giving him a timeframe to correct this and have another contractor on standby to do the work if he doesn't. Then sue him for the cost to correct this.

As mentioned contact the governing bodies in your area and let them know the situation.

You shouldn’t wait since obviously cold weather is just around the corner.
__________________
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Especially In The DIY Chatroom

Last edited by kwikfishron; 10-19-2011 at 07:17 AM.
kwikfishron is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to kwikfishron For This Useful Post:
Snav (10-19-2011)
Old 10-19-2011, 08:23 AM   #11
Civil Engineer
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,116
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Clearly you are going to need to have a discussion, possibly an unpleasant one, with your contractor. Hopefully you had a written estimate, maybe even a contract, with the contractor, that specified the work to be performed. Maybe you did not, possibly you did not have any plans, which would make the entire discussion even more difficult. Remember, the contractor is only obligated to build to the plans, and meet the terms of your agreement. Things get very difficult if the agreement is for the contractor to build the deck WITHOUT A PERMIT, and there are no plans. If that is the case, the contractor may be perfectly within the letter of your agreement to build a deck with footings that are not code compliant, after all if he is not obligated to pull a permit, is he obligated to meet code?

That said, frost heave is caused by a complex relationship between freezing temperatures, soil type, and moisture availability. Certain types of soil are not prone to frost heave even if they freeze solid. For example, coarse sand and gravel does not exhibit frost heave even if it is saturated and freezes solid. Clay does not exhibit frost heave, however silt does, and most people CANNOT tell the difference between silt and clay, and they get confused all the time. Hence the urban legend that clay exhibits frost heave, it isn't the clay, its the silt. You said you have clay, but I am guessing you don't really know the difference. If you have silty soil, and it freezes, you are almost certain to get heave. If the soil is truly clay, you are not likely to get frost heave. It takes an experienced person using specific tests to distinguish clay from silt.

At the worst, if you cannot get the footings dug deeper prior to this winter, you should hire an engineer or soil scientist to test your soil and determine if it is frost heave prone. If so, disconnecting the deck from the house would be a good idea. If not, the entire problem can wait until next summer, when you should have plenty of time to install new, appropriate footings. Bear in mind that if the contractor failed to build the footings to code, there may be other issues with the deck that will also require attention at that time.
Daniel Holzman is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 10:03 AM   #12
Concrete & Masonry
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 2,673
Default

Serious Deck Problem


You could simply insulate around the posts for winter, if it came down to that. Straw, hat, insulating blankets, stryofoam sheets, etc... would work, and make more sense IMO than disconnecting from the house.

As others have said, give your contractor AND your building inspector/dept a call to get this corrected.
jomama45 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 10:20 AM   #13
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: LI, New York
Posts: 5
Default

Serious Deck Problem


I am from NY..... SUE!!!

LOL

I have seen some pretty bad work in my day, and if you use a unlicensed contractor AND don't know enough yourself, at the very least you should hire a private inspector for the project (even if you are trying to avoid Gov't inspections). I've had people double-check my work with engineers and didn't mind at all - it is the smart thing to do.

I used to own (before a fire) the Black & Decker book on Deck-Building, and even being in the business I learned quite a lot from it - in there it tells you all about the frostline and proper depth for supports. Before doing any project you should do your homework. A simple $15-$18 DIY book on the subject will usually clue you in if the contractor is cutting-corners. I highly recommend the B&D book (for decks) if you can find it.

One last question - did he actually sink the posts into the ground, or did he pour footings and use Teco's? (metal brackets) Even PT lumber is NOT supposed to be in direct contact with either the ground, or the concrete - both will cause premature rot. If he sunk the wood right into the ground, he truly was a hack, and you are in-trouble.

EDIT: One last thing - I wouldn't call in the building inspector at this point, UNLESS you want to pay for that deck two more times (once to remove it, and once more to rebuild it THE RIGHT WAY), because I can almost guarantee he/she will tell you to rip it all out.

Last edited by Markustay; 10-19-2011 at 10:33 AM. Reason: more info after eading other responses.
Markustay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 02:20 PM   #14
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 4
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Thanks for the info everyone. He used pre cast footings placed on concrete poored in holes that are about 12 x12-15" deep. So, no the posts aren't touching ground. I talked to him and he says I won't have any problem but he can dig them out deeper if I want. He's coming by later this week....not sure yet if he can get it done before it gets too cold. Worst case maybe I cross my fingers till next spring and keep an eye on the ledger board. I dont want this thing disconnected from the house if at all possible.

I am pretty sure I have clay. Digs up in chunks, nothing grows in it, hard as a rock. So maybe I wont have any noticeable heaving until it can be addressed next year.
aj4andy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011, 02:43 PM   #15
Military Mom of 4
 
Snav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 974
Default

Serious Deck Problem


Every type of ground/soil heaves during frost due to permafrost (etc). Clay here - but airid substrate there and mealy marsh there . . . and layers - some layers push the more solid upper layers up. . . you never know.

First - you need to get a permit.

Then have him fix it and dig them to the proper depth. . .more than 42" (I think) would be better . . . satisfying code is like making a C in math class. . . and To be honest - 42" for a 2nd story deck seems shallow. Maybe it's an issue of state to state - I had to dig 2' just for a low 3' deck.

If he doesn't want to do it - or continues to do things wrong - fire him and hire someone who's more knowledgeable. You're paying a lot of money and if things fail in the future it's your toosh - not his.

For me, however: the first moment I saw issues I would have just let him go and brought in someone new.

__________________
At this present moment in time I am making cabinets for the kitchen - just in case you wanted to know what I'm doing when I'm not around.
Snav is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Deck Height Issue/ Re-Grading help req.. lepricon_01 Building & Construction 16 06-03-2011 08:24 PM
How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)? Player Building & Construction 28 08-18-2010 10:10 PM
The Bioswale, french drain, deck, drainage dilemma (long) seabright_sc Building & Construction 2 01-05-2008 03:37 PM
Is this a serious problem sponge Building & Construction 26 01-09-2007 08:18 PM
deck drainage problem darsunt Building & Construction 4 12-30-2006 12:45 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.