I recently inspected a new home in Seattle that was one of the nicest homes I have inspected in some time. New homes within the city limits is not as common as it is in the suburbs because there are already houses on most lots. As older homes get torn down, as opposed to remodeled, they do pop up occasionally.
The builder took great care throughout the home and everything was constructed well beyond “minimum” industry standards. I think that this house had the fewest things on the “Summary of Significant Findings” of any house I have ever reported on—of similar size.
As the title indicates however, there was one glaring defect that seemed way out of character with the quality of construction in the rest of the home. The Front Entryway deck is a tiered structure and neither deck platform was framed properly. In this first picture one can see that there are no joist hangers or other metal bracketing components present. The joists are merely end-nailed through the single rim joist (the nice decorative white trim board doesn’t count as it is not structural).
When joists butt into a rim joist as in this situation the rim joist should be at least doubled. The size of the rim joist depends on many factors, like the number of joists that it has to carry, its length, its size etc. In this case the single rim joist is a 2×6 and spans more than 6 feet. The inspector does not have to over analyze the situation, or understand anything about what size it should actually be but he should know that it should at least be “doubled” in most cases.
The thing to keep in mind about deck construction is that there are a lot of ways to build them improperly where they are not likely to collapse when new. It is the “time factor” that makes them a ticking time bomb—-or perhaps when the grand piano is dragged into the home—or the refrigerator is replaced 15 years later.
This next picture shows how the rim joist might be “doubled” and where there should be metal brackets and hangers.
I have no idea how such a detail could have gotten missed, but it does show that, “there is always something”—even in new construction.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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