New decks can take the load off

By
Home Inspector with Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA

In many instances, new decks can take the load off the amount of reporting that's required. For years, deck builders in metro Atlanta Georgia have been making the same mistakes when it comes to methods of ledger board attachment.  Mistakes that include missing flashing, incorrect attachment of ledger boards and direct attachment to cantilevered overhangs including bay windows.

Per code, the deck ledger should not be attached and supported by fasteners through brick veneer. Brick veneer is a wall cladding. It is not intended to support loads and it can crack. Instead, the deck attached to homes with brick veneer should be built as "free-standing" which means supported independent of the wall cladding.

A preview of a new construction home I will be inspecting this week provided some confidence in the workmanship of the sub-contractor.  The ledger has continuous flashing (the exposed metal located above the ledger and below the deck board against the wall), metal joist hangers, diagonal bracing, and 6"x6" posts beneath the ledger boards. There will be a small recommendation, but it pertains to the attachment of the guard railing posts on the top side (not pictured).

Ledger board attachment through brick veneer

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Rainer
22,924
Kathy Byrnes
RE/MAX at the Lake - Mooresville, NC
CDPE

Thanks for that great insight.

Nov 14, 2010 08:16 PM #1
Rainmaker
52,122
Hank Spinnler
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA - Hoschton, GA
Atlanta Home Inspector

And "Thank You" for the comment!

Nov 14, 2010 08:20 PM #2
Rainmaker
654,289
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

So - this deck is free standing, as in not attached to the house at all? Obviously, a person better know what they're doing! You're the guy Georgia homebuyers want inspecting their homes!

Nov 14, 2010 08:52 PM #3
Rainmaker
52,122
Hank Spinnler
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA - Hoschton, GA
Atlanta Home Inspector

Joetta - That's a great observation. The two ledger boards are attached to the structure of the home. I'm not a structural engineer, but the basic forces at play are not difficult to comprehend. The posts placed beneath the ledger boards serve to support the deck and resist the shear force from loads placed on top of the deck. The deck being bolted to the house structure is there to resist lateral forces.

Decks built as completely "free-standing" structures can be constructed in another manner such as post and beam construction. The "Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide - Based on the 2009 International Residential Code" defines "Free-Standing Decks" as "Decks which are free-standing do not utilize the exterior wall of the existing house to support vertical loads..."

Nov 14, 2010 09:50 PM #4
Rainer
27,982
Matthew Boswell
Mortgage Architects: Matthew Boswell, Mortgage Planner - Mississauga, ON
Mortgages - Mississauga, GTA

Hank, I did not know that. Although the code may be different where I am, the principle - safety, is still the same. thanks for posting.

Nov 14, 2010 09:58 PM #5
Rainmaker
52,122
Hank Spinnler
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA - Hoschton, GA
Atlanta Home Inspector

Matthew - Around here, if the home has a basement or crawlspace, it usually has a deck of some sort. Decks have lifespans too. Had one last week that had absolutely nothing going for it. Recommended it be torn off and rebuilt.

Nov 14, 2010 10:04 PM #6
Rainmaker
218,200
Joshua Frederick
Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC - Defiance, OH
Home Inspector - Northwest Ohio

Wow, don't see many like that, meaning that it is actually built properly.

Nov 16, 2010 05:29 AM #7
Rainmaker
52,122
Hank Spinnler
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA - Hoschton, GA
Atlanta Home Inspector

Joshua. Fortunately, they're getting better at building them and municipalities are requiring more attention to following the code.

Nov 16, 2010 12:03 PM #8
Anonymous
john

if attaching the deck to house you actaully do not need diagonal bracing perpendicular to the house

 

Jul 23, 2012 01:42 PM #9
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Rainmaker
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Hank Spinnler

Atlanta Home Inspector
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