My Home Inspector Blog: Deck Repair Gone Awry!- Del Mar Home Inspection

Deck Repair Gone Awry!- Del Mar Home Inspection

Deck Repair Gone Awry!- Del Mar Home Inspection

Often, by the time I'm called in to perform a home inspection, the subject house has already been inspected by a termite company. Such was the case at this Del Mar, CA home. The previous owner had not kept up on the home's maintenance and there was extensive exterior wood repair and replacement to be done.


When I finished my home inspection, my clients had a rather lengthy list of necessary repairs to be done. They were mainly concerned with two items in my report. One was the rat-infested attic area. Numerous trees were growing next to the home allowing the rodents to enter. After further evaluation, it was determined that the attic insulation was so full of rat droppings, urine, and dead carcasses, it would have to be completely removed. The seller agreed to the request. The insulation was removed, the attic area was sanitized, and blown-in cellulose insulation was installed.


The other item of concern was the master bedroom deck. It was a cantilever deck, meaning there were no posts supporting the deck. (The floor joists protrude beyond the exterior wall of the home and provide support for the deck.) As you can imagine, the structural soundness of these joists is extremely important with a cantilever deck. When I did my inspection, it was noted that the deck had dry rot in many of it's components.




Now, let's fast forward three weeks later when I received a call from my clients. The termite company was completing repairs to the dry-rotted wood in the deck and my client's final walk-through had been scheduled. They asked if I would return to the property and inspect the deck and some of the other repairs that had been done. I was able to make it back to the property a few days later and was surprised to find the contractors still working on the deck. As it turned out, I'm glad they were still there.


There are certain rules to be followed when it comes to notching joists, especially cantilever deck joists. When repairing the dry-rot in several of the joists, the contractor had begun to cut the top edges of the joists off almost the entire length of the cantilevered section. A filler piece was then nailed into place and they were preparing to reinstall the deck boards.





See the problem here? What were once 2x8 joists were now 2x6 joists! Cantilever deck joists are engineered components and cannot not be modified without engineering approval. This deck will no longer be able to hold the weight load it was originally designed for! Serious injury and death occur every year from collapsing decks. Extreme caution should be taken whenever repairs or modifications are made to structural components of your home!






Deck Repair Gone Awry!- Del Mar Home Inspection:  Steve Stenros is the owner of First Choice Inspections and is a CREIA MCI inspector. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection. Appointments can be obtained by calling 888-335-3040.


             Steve Stenros, MCI         Biz card photo

             Master CREIA Inspector #0115

             ICC Residential Combination Inspector #5251439

             Certified Infrared Thermographer #7791

                                       FHA/HUD Inspector- #V975

                                       203k Consultant #S0611



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Comment balloon 8 commentsSteve Stenros • June 05 2011 01:04PM


Yikes! It is so important to understand what we are dealing with in a home purchase! What a great post! Thanks so much for sharing it and for bringing these items to light! It's very interesting to find out exactly what can and does happen to residential structures! Great Job!
Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 9 years ago

Good evening Steve, excellent photos.  Keeping the trees and shrubs away from the home is critical.  A licensed contractor in California should have known better on the deck!

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) over 9 years ago

Steve - Were they able to make correct repairs to the deck.  I suspect that new floor joists would be a very expensive fix.

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) over 9 years ago

Lisa & Dan: From what I have seen, many inspection concerns are not properly repaired. I always recommend having "qualified licensed contractors" do all repairs.

Steve: I don't know what the final outcome was. The exposed joists may all have to be doubled, although an engineer would have to determine that. If new joists are necessary, they could be looking at a costly mistake!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 9 years ago
Very good information. I would have been scared to step on that deck even if it had been repaired, especially since from a layman's point of view, there's no visible means of support. Have to check out your other blogs. You provide very, very good insight. Thanks!
Posted by Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA (Alain Pinel) over 9 years ago

Pacita: Thanks. Now they have a diving board! I see some members have their latest blogs listed in their signature- that's a great idea!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 9 years ago

Steve, amazing how such a simple repair, done incorrectly (and cheaply) can cause a buyer to be unhappy. Here in NE FL, we see wood rot quite a bit, and it tends to show up on garage door jambs, which can be treated in the way the deck in your post was; they are not supporting any weight.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Carol. I'll bet you do see a great deal of deteriorated wood with all that moisture! Of course, rotten wood in a deck can be much more dangerous than rotten wood in a garage door jamb. Thanks for your comment!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 9 years ago