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Old 11-09-2014, 08:39 AM   #1
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Deck with insufficient beams.


I am in contract to buy this 15 year old house. (no idea who built the deck, or when)
During the inspection, I noticed that the deck beams were grossly insufficient.

They used 2x6 as the joists, but they used a single 2x4 as the beams!
To add insult to injury, they attached the 2x4 beam to the 4x4 post with 5 decking screws at each post.
Also notice that the 2x6 joists are joined together with a short piece of 2x4.
The band joist is a 2x8.
Post spacing is 7'x7', which appears to be sufficient for 2x6 joists.

I guess this will be my first project. (we are still buying the house)
I will need to add in some additional 2x8 beams and attach them to the 4x4 posts with some Simpson Z brackets.
Or, I could request the current owner fix the problem.
It really makes me question the ledger and footings though...

http://i.imgur.com/VbGrFoH.jpg
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:58 AM   #2
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Not sure what your question is. There is little about that deck that meets current code, at least if you go by the Prescriptive Wood Deck Residential Construction Guide
http://www.awc.org/publications/dca/dca6/dca6-09.pdf

Personally if you want a compliant, safe deck I would tear that down, maybe salvage some lumber, and build a new one. I would definitely NOT ask the owner to fix the deck, there is no telling what they will do, there is no assurance they can or will meet current code, and there is probably no point trying to repair this deck, it may cost more to repair than to build new. I would calculate the cost to build a new deck (you can get rough square foot costs from a contractor or from a deck building website), then offer Price - Deck cost to the owner. If they don't like your offer, there is always another house for sale somewhere.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:28 AM   #3
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I'm with Dan on this one.
Did they also build it even with the threshold of the door?
If so add that to the list of things done wrong.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:57 AM   #4
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I'm with Dan & Joe, nuke it and rebuild.

There is an even scarier thought. What other projects around the house might have been done by the same person that built that deck ? Or some one of similar "skill" level ? Electrical, plumbing, or structural modifications that are now hidden by finished floors, walls, etc.

Sometimes it is just better to walk away and look for a different house.

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It really makes me question the ledger and footings though...
What question ? You would be a fool to reuse them. Include new ones in the cost of the deck. Personally, I would throw in a contingancy fund incase of rot or other structural problems behind the ledger.
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Old 11-09-2014, 01:28 PM   #5
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To the person who built this deck; What were you thinking ??? If I built a deck like this for a customer with this type of structural support I don't think I could sleep at night .
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Old 11-09-2014, 01:44 PM   #6
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Deck with insufficient beams


There is so much wrong with the understructure that it should already be showing signs of failure. It looks like one bandaid on top of another. If it were me I'd salvage whatever you can, but definitely rebuild the whole thing.

Adding to what someone else said about 'other unreliable projects around the house', I have to question the footings for those 4x4 posts.

I had an agent once tell me that she could find a way to get out of ANY contract if she needed to, so you may want to reconsider the whole house. Also, I find Advil helps.
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Old 11-09-2014, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fisher57 View Post
There is so much wrong with the understructure that it should already be showing signs of failure. It looks like one bandaid on top of another. If it were me I'd salvage whatever you can, but definitely rebuild the whole thing.

Adding to what someone else said about 'other unreliable projects around the house', I have to question the footings for those 4x4 posts.

I had an agent once tell me that she could find a way to get out of ANY contract if she needed to, so you may want to reconsider the whole house. Also, I find Advil helps.
Your agent is not an attorney, and you do not want to be dealing with this.

At the very least, make sure the inspector writes it up pretty seriously, get good prices on a very solid rebuild, to code, by licensed contractors, read your inspection contingency in the contract, look for similar problems, etc...--and strongly consider walking away. You may be able to get a good price, but the house might also fall apart the first week you're there. If you plan to back out and already have a lot of money down, it is safest to hire an attorney to maximize your chances of getting it back.

Seriously, you could move in and find $150K in hidden work that needs re-doing.

If you do decide to buy, I might hire a contractor to go through and look for problems--not just the inspector. Inspectors that real estate agents use try to do a decent job, but they have a different eye and real estate agents won't use them if they are too thorough.
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Old 11-09-2014, 05:19 PM   #8
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I just remembered that it doesn't have a ledger. It is free standing.
The house was built by a well known high end builder in the area. They also have permits for the kitchen and basement remodel and they are the original owners. These owners aren't DIYers. I am thinking they hired a shoddy contractor to build the deck. I am awaiting their answer on who built the deck before I decide what to do.
I'm getting a good deal on the house, so I might just take it as is and do the repairs or replacement myself.

Thanks all for chiming in and reassuring me that it's bad.
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Old 11-09-2014, 06:07 PM   #9
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That's a tear down.
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Old 11-09-2014, 07:58 PM   #10
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Well that's even scarier.
If he was a licensed real builder why would he have excepted that shoddy work and pay the guy?
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:03 PM   #11
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i wish my front porch looked that good.

and i see a ledger, actually, 2.
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:19 PM   #12
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I found out that the owner's father built it when the house was built (15 years ago).
Sooo... I guess we now know that single 2x4 beams are sufficient.

The ledger on the left isn't actually attached to the house, it just butts up against it.
The load is carried by the post, which is the farthest from the point of view.

When I saw the construction, I knew there would be some major deflection in the beams, but to my surprise, there wasn't.

My plan going forward is to sister in some ~3ft 2x6s against the joists with the splices.
I will add in a 2x6 or 2x8 on the camera side of the 4x4 posts with some z brackets and lag bolts.
I'll also connect the 2x4s to the 4x4s with z brackets or some other method.

I'll keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't move over the years.
It is getting up there in age too, so I will probably end up replacing it in the next 5-10.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edro View Post
During the inspection, I noticed ........
I hope you don't mean that you noticed this but your inspector didn't.

I am with everybody else, that's a tear-down.
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:09 AM   #14
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I'm going to go against the grain and say, that deck looks to be one of the easiest I've seen to get up to snuff and don't tear it down. There's only 1 assumption I'm making, that the support posts are good below ground.

I see it being a piece of cake to

Get some 6x6's and bottle jacks (borrow friends if you can) and support the deck temporarily underneath by jacking up the 6x6's laying sideways (don't jack anymore than you have to). Cut back the support posts to fit a double 2x10 header and fit a Simpson post cap support bracket. Slide in the double 2x10 header over the supports and lower the deck. Rinse and repeat for each 2x4 support. Probably a weekend project that can be done by yourself. One of the new codes today is, deck support beams have to rest on top of the support posts it can't be screwed/lagged/bolted to the sides.

As for the 2x6 floor joists, I'd put in some more that's all and make sure the seams don't line up with the current. Those look to be 24" oc, easy to put some in between. Otherwise, you could sister them but put in spacers you don't want two 2x's together on a deck without some type of water proofing membrane above otherwise you'll create a place for water to sit and pool between the 2x's (and you can't put that membrane in an already installed deck without taking up the flooring). Just buy the 2x6's ahead of time and let them dry otherwise they'll be 1/4" taller and won't slide in. If you trim them down, they'll be 1/4" too short when they do dry and may make your deck warped.

That deck looks to be in fantastic shape and the way it was done looks like it would be pretty easy to get up to snuff especially if 24" oc.

Last edited by Piedmont; 11-10-2014 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:22 AM   #15
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Thanks for the practical reply.
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