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Old 05-20-2008, 10:35 AM   #1
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Worst part of building a deck??


So I'm attempting to build my own deck for the first time. I've posted here before regarding some issues I've had but overall it's gone pretty well. I attached the ledger board and put up the outside joists (temporarily) so that I could run my strings out to locate the post foundation holes. That's where I ran into some trouble.

I rented a one-man power auger over the weekend and had two of my friends over to help. I have nine holes to dig and they have to be 12" x 36". On the first hole we buried the auger. We had it all the way in the ground and I guess I was pushing too hard when the motor stopped and the whole thing was stuck in the ground. We spent about 4 hours digging it out and eventually, had to use my truck and tow rope to rock it back and forth to free it up.

We ended up only getting four of the nine holes dug. One of the holes is about 4"-5" out of alignment with the other holes. Another hole is probably about 6" too shallow.

To try to correct the alignment issue I had an idea to basically run strings parrelle with the holes about six inches above the ground so that when I'm using the auger, I'll have some frame of reference for where the hole should be. I also thought that it might be helpful to use one of the concrete forms as a gauge and, using spray paint, mark the area on the ground where the hole should be.

Basically, it was a horrible day and nothing went right (except actually laying out the post holes).

My questions are:

1. Is digging the holes the worst part of building a deck??

2. Is there any trick to keeping the holes lined up properly??

3. Has anyone tried the methods that I discussed above to keep the holes lined up properly??

4. How are building inspectors (generally) regarding the depth of the hole?? What if he holes are 2"-3" shallower than they're supposed to be?? Can I just pile dirt around the hole to bring the ground level up??

Thanks,

Kevin


Last edited by Ler0y Jenkins; 05-20-2008 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:31 AM   #2
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Worst part of building a deck??


Here's my thoughts!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ler0y Jenkins View Post
My questions are:

1. Is digging the holes the worst part of building a deck??

I think it is!

2. Is there any trick to keeping the holes lined up properly??

You have to run string lines based on the centers of your posts. I set mine 3 or 4 feet outside the line of the deck and square it up, then measure in 3 or 4 feet to locate my posts. I use orange marking spray paint to locate the post holes.

DON'T CONCRETE THE POST HOLES UNTIL THE DECK FRAME IS BUILT. Temporarily support it during construction. That way you're setting your posts where they need to be, and you can concrete them in once you know they're properly located and leveled. Doing the posts first makes things a lot harder.

3. Has anyone tried the methods that I discussed above to keep the holes lined up properly??

More or less. I already covered that.

4. How are building inspectors (generally) regarding the depth of the hole?? What if he holes are 2"-3" shallower than they're supposed to be?? Can I just pile dirt around the hole to bring the ground level up??

Depends on the inspector, soil conditions, and location. If you're in good dirt that should be easy to dig (as opposed to rock), I'd turn you down for 33" or 34" as opposed to 36". Some will, some won't. Piling a little dirt around the hole won't fool anyone and won't help your case, I promise.

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Old 05-20-2008, 07:50 PM   #3
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Worst part of building a deck??


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Here's my thoughts!
Everything said in the post was right on. We always temp. support our frames, then install the beam and support posts and footings after.
After, we do the stairs, then decking and the handrails last....
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:15 PM   #4
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Worst part of building a deck??


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Everything said in the post was right on.
Thank you...Definately a compliment coming from a knowledgeable builder!
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:40 AM   #5
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Worst part of building a deck??


Snag yourself a shovel and a pair of gloves - you can carve out the side of the hole that's offcenter. You can put a sonotube in that hole and pack dirt around it to hold it in line w/ your other holes.

I would think w/ 3 guys and 3 shovels, you could've dug out the stuck auger in about 15-20 minutes. Woulda saved you some time last weekend...

When I dig footings, I hand dig my holes. I put BigFoot forms on the bottoms of my sonotubes so my holes need to be about 3' wide. Use a digging bar (6' steel bar w/ pointed tip on one end and flat 3" blade tip on the other) to loosen the dirt, use the shovel to clear the loose dirt out of the hole. It'll save you the rental of the auger and shouldn't take more than 30 min. per hole (your speed). Take breaks and prepare to have sore shoulders the next day.

The problems I've run into w/ augers stem from the fact that they're rental machines. They've been run hard by folks that don't always know what they're doing so the machine is subject to mechanical breakdowns and the blades/tips are usually dull. That and the fact that it's usually a big, fat PITA to manuever one around to my jobsite!

Yes, digging holes is the least pleasant task in building a deck.

Yes, I use landscape paint (inverted tip spray can) to mark hole locations. After pulling stringlines to establish layout, I measure off the string for holes. Although, unlike some others, I build from the ground up. Footings, then posts, then beams, then joists, then decking. To each their own and that's what works best for me.

Mac
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:20 PM   #6
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Worst part of building a deck??


Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Thank you...Definately a compliment coming from a knowledgeable builder!
Me?...I'm just another blue-collar working stiff....nothing special here... But thanks anyways.
FWIW: I enjoy your posts. Thanks for joining up and helping out.
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Old 05-22-2008, 03:38 AM   #7
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Worst part of building a deck??


Normally i don't go into this area on the thread but however i will speak up due i have some of my customers did pretty insane work on the decking.

here is most common curpits nothing in order but you will get the idea.


Build the deck around the electric meter. That is a big no-no especally if you have underground service and MANY POCO will speced in their service manuals that do not enclose the meter to the point where the POCO can not open up the meter box for safety reason.

Inproper mounting deck to the building.
{ to order to get the deck secured to the building you must use lag bolts not the nails and also please take the vinal sliding off when you put the deck header on it.}

Inproper deck support. i did see some are not strong engouh to support the deck. Just wait until you put the sonvagunner spa tub on the deck you will get the idea very fast [ anywhere from 1200 to much as 6000 lbs on it. spa itself not too bad but weight of water will useally do it.]

Improper footing. myself i did see some pretty bad footing there it kinda spook me a little. [ this happend when some of the DIY's or bad hacks don't read the local codes or reqirement on this one.]


Now for electrical side just real quick run down.

Use the proper wiring and metholds as need to and the code is pretty strict especally the spa is near to it [ the spa have few specal code to deal with it.]

This item do come up from time to time if you want a post luminaire you have to plan it a little ahead of time so you can get some 4X4 post bored out before it go on the deck so it will make it alot easier to install the wires later. { check with your local code related to this some area may not allowed }

Hope this will help you some of it.

Merci,Marc
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:28 AM   #8
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Worst part of building a deck??


Thanks for all the help guys.

BuiltByMac, you were right. I had two friends over last weekend and we dug the remaining five holes by hand in about 1 1/2 hours. I also went back and re-did three of the four holes previously dug because they were either not deep enough or out of alignment with the other holes. All in all, the power auger was way more trouble than it was worth. Maybe if it were a two-man auger or had more power it would have been more helpful but it definitely seemed easier to just dig the holes by hand.
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Old 06-09-2008, 04:07 PM   #9
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Worst part of building a deck??


But a couple years ago we were building a retaining wall that had 6x6 posts w/ 4' deadmen. We had to dig 10 or more post holes and thought the 2 man auger would do the trick, Nope! it was backbreaking. Then we tried the 12" auger on a PTO for a small tractor. Nope! We ended up just using the bucket and some quick form work. Had we just used the bucket and forms from the start, it would have been done that much sooner.

For decks, I have always used the 6' pointed spike, the Shovel and the post-hole digger. That way you control where your holes go....

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