The deck just fell off our house

susankaJuly 9, 2010

We have a 12x24 HD imitation wood (like Trex) deck, 3 years old, supported by three 4x4's and attached to the back of our stucco house. We're doing some patio work under the deck and wanted to replace the 4x4's with 4x6's, so the contractor who built our house came over yesterday and put temporary supports so the concrete guys could work and then he'd put in the 4x6's. At 5:50 this morning the deck broke free of the house and fell to the ground. The contractor has been here and will put the deck back up. My question is, I see the lag bolts sticking out of the back of the deck are only about 2 1/2 inches long (the part sticking out that I can measure). Also, there's no beam attached to the stucco. Should the lag bolts be longer, and should there be a beam attached to the stucco that the lag bolts go into? The bolts are 4 feet apart.

Thanks for any advice you can give.

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You're totally screwed if this jerk built your whole house. Get out right now, go down to the building department, get the inspection records and everything on file for your property. No way was this built to code 3 years ago. I wouldn't even feel safe in the house at this piont. What if the deck held for a few more hours and then collapsed on the people underneath? You are really lucky with the timing on this. Do not take this lightly, this is a near-miss that would have resulted in loss of life, no joke.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:47AM
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I understand the loss of life possibility; my husband was out there under the deck a half hour before it fell, looking at the supports before he went to work. I've called the building department now, they've told me how it should have been done and what has to be done to fix it. This contractor will get it right this time, no kidding, if he wants to work around here again. Thank you, aidan.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:27PM
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...I forsee a new thread posted: "Help, my contractor just fell off my house"

I can't speak for building code in your area, but around here you don't support the weight of the deck off the house. The ties to the house are for lateral support only. The 3 4x4's supporting the 24' long side of the deck are overspanned, unless there is a 4x12 girder carrying the load from the joists. Even then, 4x4 is too small of timber. The 6 lag screws supporting the other side of the deck off the house were ready to fail in a stiff breeze. I am surprised the thing held together for 3 years. And you say this guy built the whole house? What else has gone wrong lately?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Actually, a few things, but he's fixed them all. I know what you're thinking. We really trusted this guy. He claims lag screws every 48 inches was passed by the inspector. Anyway, I will tell him all that you've said, and what the building inspector said. We're considering doing something entirely different, but don't know what. I have to figure out where to post on here for ideas, and we have a highly recommended contractor coming out next Tuesday. Nothing major has gone wrong elsewhere, actually, although we know the concrete isn't the quality it should be and there was a leak around the windows a year ago that he fixed. Thank you, aidan.I will call the Building Department again and find out what the code says for supporting a deck with timbers. If that's not to code either I'm going to give this guy a real problem.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:05PM
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Jean Bo

I clicked on your post cause it sounded all too familiar. We tore into our rotten deck to replace it (It is off the 2nd floor I might add), and we found it had never been attached to the house properly from the builder. My father the architect had passed away 6 months prior and I was now faced with "ok so how do I do this?" I found a web site called I can't tell you how much this site help me and my DH. We are big DIY'er I guess I enjoy it more then him but.... None the less we used this site and now I know it is correct and elephants could have a party on my deck. I strongly suggest you check into this site not that your going to do the work but at least you will know what is proper so that next time erf and derf build it again they do it right and don't kill you. We paid a real small amount for full access to the the site for I think 3 months and we were able to print out sheets of paper to work off of. I like to refer people to this site cause it is full of great info and has calculators and address all different types of decks and configurations and you will have the satisfaction that it is correct! We purchased a deck book from HD before we found this site and it just had nothing in it, it's a waste of paper. Anyway I hope I possibly helped you, this gardenweb and the people on it made it possible for me to build a killer bathroom. That's usually where I hang out. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:36PM
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You did help, jjazzy, and thank you very much. I'm glad you solved your problems and I agree that the folks on this site are just great! I'll go to I've already looked at some calculators which clearly show that the support was inadequate. After I verify what should have been done with the building department this guy is going to wish he had fallen off the roof, as aiden mentioned. He's looked at me with a smile on his face and told me that everything is absolutely according to code and I'm beginning to think it's a lie. But I'll know for sure next week. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:36PM
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Jean Bo

Yes I do agree that you should see what your building codes require, but if you have a moment you can look around that site and see a similar situation to your own. He has some really good thoughts on how to put things together. After we built this deck of ours my Dh and I became deck critics LOL. Oh look they put those railing posts in wrong! They didn't tie that in right! I guess were deck snobs now! Oh well! Good luck i hope you csn get this guy to do it right but it sounds like your going to know more about it then him before its over, why are there so many shotty workers out there!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:09AM
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do contractors in your state need to register with a state agency? here they'd have to register with the Registrar of contractors. they have to be licensed to do that - and they take complaints against any registered with them. I'd check that out. always check to see if your contractor is licensed, don't just take their word for it. get the license # and call the licensing agency to be sure it's valid and in good standing - and check complaints against them.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 1:32AM
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We've had the conversation with the builder and the Building Dept, builder is licensed, all is going to be done right with appropriate supervision and at no cost to us. At least that's what has been said is going to happen. I've gotten lots of outstanding advice about what has to be done, and we intend to see that it all happens as it should. Thanks, everyone.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 10:32AM
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