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Deck Inspection: Checklist for Framing, Footings and More

Your deck serves as the basis for your family's outside entertainment and leisure activities, including cookouts, birthday celebrations, and your Sunday morning coffee location. By undertaking routine inspections, it is essential to guarantee that your deck is safe and compliant with current regulatory regulations. With the assurance that your deck is in good condition, you will be able to derive the greatest pleasure from it.

Every two years, on average, you should arrange a professional assessment of the quality and strength of your deck's guardrails, and the deck surface should be cleaned at least once a year to extend its life and improve its appearance. As with your home, a deck is subjected to significant levels of stress throughout the year, including frequent exposure to the elements, load-bearing circumstances, and typical wear and tear. The following deck inspection checklist should serve as a starting point.

Deck Safety: What to Look Out For

Your deck is exposed to the elements throughout the entire year. Extreme temperatures can degrade even the most well-maintained decks. So, when you or a professional inspector check to see whether your deck is up to code, here are a few things to keep an eye out for in terms of deck repair and safety:

Insect Damage

Most contemporary decks are composed of treated wood or composite materials to repel insects. In other cases, particularly decks constructed prior to the 1980s, the wood is not treated with insect repellant, increasing the likelihood that ants and termites will enter the framework and inflict damage that can literally pull the deck away from the home.

You may determine this by observing the movement of your deck when you first tread onto it. Call a professional to do a complete inspection and check for insect weaknesses if you observe a little sway when you exit your home.

Rusted Fasteners, Connectors & More

One of the most important variables in establishing the safety of your deck is not readily apparent. It is therefore essential to inspect the underside of your deck to ensure that all fasteners, connectors, and joists are in good condition. This involves ensuring that nails, bolts, screws, and other metal connectors are not corroded or otherwise weakened. If rust is detected, contact an inspector.

In addition, it is strongly advised that any deck older than 10 years be inspected by a building specialist with understanding of the current building codes. As the building code advances, new procedures and materials may be required to ensure the safety of decking projects.

Cracks & Rotting

Wood breaks easily after extensive use. Small cracks aren't a problem unless they expand. Cracks around fasteners and between joists can pose serious problems if left unchecked.

Every two to three years, seal and varnish your deck to prevent water, cold, and heat damage. If a board cracks, replace it. Deck rot is treated similarly. Replace rotting boards for safety and appearance.

Deck owners must inspect the frame for safety issues. "Pick test" deck posts for decay or deterioration. If rotting wood bends slowly and breaks little, it needs treatment.

Unsturdy Railing

Fix your railing quickly if it is loose. The risk of damage is simply too severe to delay a railing repair. As stated previously, the railing is a vital component of the deck, and it is essential to apply construction methods that adhere to the building code. To preserve their durability, prohibit excessive sitting or leaning on rails; after all, this is the purpose of deck furniture!

Mold & Mildew Exposure

Almost every deck will acquire a slight green hue from mildew over its lifetime. Most prone to mildew growth, which can make steps slippery and hazardous, are stairs. Regular cleaning and staining will help avoid the development of mildew. On the contrary, mold and fungus are not to be taken lightly. A fuzzy or mushroom-like growth requires rapid care, since it may be the "tip of the iceberg" of a larger problem.

Deck Inspections

Deck Framing Inspection

Framing inspections are only required on low-lying decks that allow inspectors to work without crawling. You must request an inspection before building the decking so the framing is visible from above. They'll ensure you're following plans. Use the given wood size and species. Is joist spacing right?

Inspectors will also examine frame connections. They'll check that you're using the right joist hangers and that none are missing. They'll also look at the beams and posts.

Inspectors will check your frame for blueprint compliance. They'll inspect joists, beams, and hardware connections. Before closing the permit, you must pass a final inspection. If you fail an inspection, you should be provided a list of things to fix.

Deck Footing Inspection

Contractors can save time by quickly inspecting footings following excavations. Arrange footing checks before mixing and pouring concrete foundations. Never pour concrete before inspecting footings.

An inspector must measure the base sizes and hole depths to ensure they meet building codes. The holes must be clean and dry. If there's water in the holes, try pumping it out or letting them air-dry. If you can't attend the inspection, leave the card and plans where the inspector can sign them. After permission, build your footings.

Regularly examine your footings. Footings maintain and support a deck's foundation. When footings fail, it's usually because they weren't strong enough. If your footings' concrete is cracking or peeling away from the earth, have a professional inspect them.

Professional Deck Inspection Cost

Now that you are aware of the most essential items on your deck safety inspection checklist, it is time to discuss pricing. The average cost of a professional deck inspection ranges from $25 for a 30-minute inspection to $199 for an hour-long inspection that includes a structural check, safety check, and check for common building code violations. After the inspection, you should receive a detailed written report with photographs of any deficiencies.

The longer you maintain your deck properly, the longer you can enjoy it. To ensure that your deck is up to code, you need the assistance of a reputable professional deck inspector, such as NADRA or Home Inspector.

What If My Deck Fails Inspection?

It's fairly uncommon for both skilled tradespeople and do-it-yourselfers to make mistakes or forget aspects when constructing a deck, which is why an inspection is necessary. An inspector's eye is trained to spot details that, in many cases, are lost on a person who has been performing the job on a daily basis. Therefore, failing an inspection is not a terrible thing; it merely indicates that your deck will be safer after it is completed.

Read the inspection notification, or even better, be there during the inspection. A brief discussion with the inspector might significantly boost your confidence in making adjustments. Once the highlighted faults have been fixed, re-inspect the property. If you are uncertain about any of the mentioned corrections, you should always contact the inspector for clarification.

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