Deck Inspection

Balcony Design: Durable Wood Options

Wood construction for mixed-use is very popular in the Western U.S. In fact, it has become a favorite all around the country due to its availability, construction, favorable cost, and thermal performance, among others. But waterproofing properties are important, particularly when using wood for construction. The 2018 International Building Code (IBC) even made changes to its guidelines to address occupant safety of wood-frame balconies and in compliance with California State Law SB-721.

 

In the changes stipulated, a section in the IBC now requires an impervious moisture barrier system to protect wood structural framing exposed to the weather. That is possible with the use of an alternative to preservative-treated or naturally durable wood.

 

Therefore, this type of wood should provide a water-resistant or anti-moisture barrier system to protect the structure that supports floors. So it should have positive drainage of water to infiltrate the moisture-permeable floor topping.

 

 

Durable Wood Options For Balcony Design

 

The IBC allows both preservative-treated (PT) wood and naturally durable wood. But when it comes to balcony framing, the former is considered a better choice than the latter.

 

According to the IBC, naturally durable wood is the heartwood of decay-resistant species, with the exception of the occasional piece with corner sapwood. Among the decay-resistant species are a black locust, black walnut, cedar, and redwood.

 

Such species are quite good choices for lower structural demand applications like deck boards in which the attractiveness of the wood is exposed. That is why PT lumber is favored because it has been certified and treated to specifications of the IBC 2303.1.9.

 

 

PT Wood

 

An adequate and proper specification of PT wood would require knowledge and use of the revised IBC 2018. However, the specification for PT wood that means all-balcony framing lumber should be PT wood by project designer is said to be vague and insufficient for balcony framing critical for life safety.

 

If you are considering balcony design, it would require the inspection of any components that are load-bearing and associated with waterproofing elements. The text in the SB-721 would require inspectors and any repairs to be done by January 1, 2022. That would go along with subsequent inspections in a five-year interval.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The new balcony code IBC 2018 provides an opportunity to address the reliability and safety of in-service balconies. Thus, design professionals are urged to adopt the new balcony provisions before being adopted by the governing state code and jurisdiction.

 

At the same time, owners of new construction projects such as decks should be informed by the balcony safety issue, the need for periodic inspections, and the new provisions to address water-related issues. That is to ensure that the balcony framing will be protected from moisture conditions that might compromise the integrity of the structure.

 

Building elements, such as connector hardware, guardrails, landings, stairway systems, structural frame, walking surface, and others critical to balcony design should be corrected by the property owner if found hazardous, in need of replacement, non-compliant, or structurally deficient.

 

The balcony bill or SB-721 requires building owners to follow the requirements associated with balconies and decks called exterior elevated elements commonly featured in most multi-family buildings in California.

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

elevated decks - outside

Building an Elevated Deck with Key Elements in Mind

There are a number of things to consider when you are planning to build elevated decks. Take a look at the essentials of building an elevated deck before you proceed with the project.

 

 

Planning Before Pursuing A Deck Project

Basically, you need more planning in doing this compared to any common project in your home. That is because you need to establish a budget, choose the materials, and the spot where you can do it. Likewise, it is best to determine if you should hire a professional or do it yourself instead.

 

 

Purpose Of Building A Deck

Perhaps you should ask yourself why you need to build elevated decks in the first place. So see to it if that project can answer to your problem if you need to extend your indoor living space or you want to push it outside.

 

Most of the reasons why people build a deck area for entertainment, dining, privacy, or a patio garden close to your home.

 

 

Location

Oftentimes, the location of your elevated deck will be determined by the size of your property.

 

So before doing so, you may consider the size of the lot, microclimates, wind, privacy, proximity to the house, rain and snow, sun and shade, and the view.

 

 

Budget 

Needless to say, there is something that surely stands in the way of building your elevated deck and that is your budget.

 

Among the issues that need to be addressed are the choice of materials, the intricacy of the design, the size of the deck, and who is going to use it.

 

 

DIY Skills

If you are thinking that your deck building project is pretty basic, then you might be able to do it by yourself over the weekends.

 

But you may need to have a particular set of skills like carpentry, engineering, and a bit of do-it-yourself experience.

 

However, if you are building elevated decks on a questionable foundation, such as those over clay, mud, sand, water, or unstable soil, then you need to consider professional skills.

 

 

Decking Materials 

Take note that wood is not the only material for decking available. Among these alternative materials are plastics and aluminum, composite materials like recycled plastic and wood fiber.

 

Of course, there are also hardwoods and pressure-treated woods that can be used to complete your project.

 

 

Deck Design, Size, And Shape 

Deck design, size, and shape all have an impact when building your deck. The design should complement the architecture of your house and coordinate with the surrounding landscape.

 

Likewise, the size should be driven by the location and your budget. Lastly, the shape of the deck should be dictated by the design of your house.

 

 

Building Code 

You should make your project legal by letting local authorities approve the blueprints to it. Laws may vary from one city or state to the other.

 

 

Deck Lighting

Elevated decks are quite attractive to see during the evening. So you need to consider installing deck lighting. For instance, you need to put landscaping spotlights, overhead lights, path lights, and wall or post-mounted lights.

 

 

Storage 

The storage is one of the things that you can consider when building a deck. These are quite useful for keeping garden tools and supplies, outdoor toys, patio cushions, and outdoor furniture and accessories.

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

condo balcony decks

Responsibility for Repairs on a Condo Balcony Deck

You might have been wondering if your balcony decks should be repaired or remodeled, who is going to be responsible for it. Perhaps this is a question that many citizens are not aware of the answer.

 

 

 

The Owner or the Association?

 

Generally, it is important to note that when the property is within the separate interest that belongs to the homeowner, then it is his or her responsibility. However, when the balcony decks are within the common are property, then it should be within the responsibility of the association.

 

In other words, if your drainpipe from the sink leaks, then it is your responsibility. Nevertheless, when the pool heater breaks down, then it is the association that will be responsible for it.

 

 

 

Hybrid Elements

 

You may also consider a more ambiguous issue that involves hybrid elements of the complex. These are known as exclusive use common areas, wherein they are outside of the airspace that defines the separate interest of the homeowner. The homeowners are the ones who can benefit from these and may only be used by a particular homeowner. Such would include balconies, garages, and patios, among others.

 

 

 

Assembly Bill 968

 

Assembly Bill 968 was introduced in order to clarify the declaration of the common interest and the separate interest development. So the association will be responsible for any repairs in the common interest development. On the other hand, the owner will be responsible for the maintenance of the separate interest and any exclusive use common area belonging to the separate interest.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

deck inspection services

How Often Should You Have Your Deck Inspected

Decks have a lifespan so it is important to consider deck inspection services on a regular basis. In fact, it is advised to have an annual inspection or safety check for any deck over 10 years old.

 

 

According to the National American Deck and Railing Association, over 40 million decks in the United States are over 20 years old. This is because they were built before the code requirements were even put into place.

 

 

As a result, many decks were not built tough enough to last that long. In fact, many residents got hurt due to deck-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 

 

 

Deck Safety

 

There are many things to check when you are concerned about the safety of your deck. Such would include the following factors that may affect the overall safety.

 

  • Corroded or missing fasteners or screws
  • Excessive wobbling
  • Missing flashing and weak railings
  • Split or decaying wood
  • Weak joints

 

 

You may check for wood decay by exposing the post where it goes into the ground. There should be a problem when you are able to push a screwdriver into the wood.

 

 

If you need professional deck inspection services, it is essential that you contact a deck building professional. It is his/her obligation to ensure that the ledger is properly secured, and if the footings are huge and tough enough to support the structure.

 

 

 

Deck Inspection Cost

 

There are various costs when it comes to deck inspection services, which depending on the location of your structure and how detailed the inspection will be. Thus, it can range from $25 to $199, from a 30-minute review to an hour of inspection. The details of the inspection will include structural checkup, general safety check, and common building code violations.

 

 

The knowledge of the current building code and the deck-building expertise and experience are among the deck inspection services you are going to pay. This will ensure that your deck will not collapse due to natural causes. On top of it all, a written inspection report must be furnished to you so that you are updated of the current condition of your deck.

 

 

Overall, you are not obliged to get professional deck inspection services to do repairs right away. In fact, the written report can be supported so that you can get a second opinion or compare repair quotes. So you can hire your own contractor to do the job or you can do it yourself if you think that you can do better.

 

 

 

When to Hire a Professional?

 

If your deck has aged and shows signs of wear, including wobbly stairs, separating planks, or softwood, then that is more than enough proof that your deck has become structurally unstable.

 

Unless you are a professional deck repair specialist, it is best to hire a licensed deck building professional to do deck inspection services. He or she will be able to identify problems, including improper construction, rot, or sinking foundation with exact details.

 

If you want to target your efforts and avoid wasting money on a particular deck repair or remodeling project, then you should hire a professional right away.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

balconies - deck inspectors

Dangers to Be Aware Of With Second Floor Balconies

When you are going to build second-floor balconies, there are certain requirements that you need to meet in order to prevent accidents. This includes Senate Bill 721 or the SB 721 inspection requirements that building owners associated with balconies and decks.

 

 

SB 721

 

This bill covers balconies and decks and their associated railings and supports. At the same time, it covers all exterior elevated elements such as the following:

  • Balconies
  • Decks
  • Porches
  • Stairways
  • Walkways
  • Entry structures extending beyond the exterior walls of the building

 

 

The said bill will require owners of buildings affected to ensure that the first inspection is done before January 1, 2025. Subsequent inspections are also needed every 6 years after the said date or on or before January 1, 2031.

 

 

Risks Involved

 

Quite frankly, there are risks involved when it comes to building balconies in your home. That is why SB 721 inspection is necessary so that second-floor balconies should be built and monitored according to specifications. Here are examples of incidents that you may not see coming.

 

 

Accidental fall

 

Children often play around the house, including but not limited to second-floor balconies. In fact, you may never see your child getting curious as he or she climbs the railing and falls off onto the ground.

 

 

Take note that falls at moderate heights can injure anybody seriously or kill a small kid. You can’t even deny the fact that pets can get out through the balcony door and fall to the ground, resulting in serious injury if not death.

 

 

Instability of the Balcony

 

When damage is not immediately visible, particularly at second-floor balconies, it poses a threat to the safety of anyone who frequents that area. You can just imagine when someone walks onto the second-floor balcony through a rotting wooden floor, for instance.

 

 

Collapsing Of the Balcony Floor

 

If the second-floor balcony has serious damage or weak spots, it could collapse under pressure. This is due to the fact that is not anchored directly into the ground for support, so balconies have weight limits. Obviously, when a group of people would enter at once, then the balcony could collapse.

 

 

Falling Items from the Balcony

 

If you are fond of keeping heavy items on the balcony, there is a possibility that the second-floor area could pose a risk to passersby. This is because strong winds can knock items onto the ground below.

 

 

On the other hand, somebody might trip over some objects from the second-floor balcony and get injured or fall over a short railing. Thus, it is important to keep items on the balcony out of the way and close the railings.

 

 

Fortunately, though, there is a balcony bill that regulates the inspection of structures that might be prone to damage or collapse. Thus, it is important to abide by the requirements of the SB 721 inspection so that costly incidents can be avoided. After all, it is your own safety and investment you should be concerned about.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

inspection - exterior elevated element

Housing Code Qualifications for an Exterior Elevated Element

There is a housing code in California that requires the inspection and certification of an exterior elevated element. The requirement involves property owners of residential buildings with 3 or more sleeping units.

 

 

So these are weather-exposed elevated elements such as wood and metal decks, balconies, guardrails, handrails, landings, stairways, and walkways, among others.

 

 

An exterior elevated element must be inspected by a licensed general contractor, professional architect or engineer. So they should verify that these elements are in a safe condition, adequate working order, without any signs of corrosion, decay, deterioration, or any similar damage that may pose safety concerns.

 

 

 

The said requirements would apply to the following occupancies:

 

  • Apartment houses, condos, and live/work units
  • Dormitories, convents, fraternities, monasteries, and sororities
  • Hotels, motels, or vacation timeshare properties
  • Boarding houses or congregation residences, categorized with 10 occupants for transient and 16 occupants for non-transient
  • Residential assisted living facilities

 

 

 

Apartment property owners who fail to file an inspection certification or complete corrective work upon the specified period will face penalties. This means that owners need to have their exterior elevated element inspected and certified by authorized personnel. So if corrective work is necessary, owners need to apply for a permit within 60 days of the certification date. Likewise, owners need to respond to plan check comments within a ten-day period of the correction letter.

 

 

Moreover, only a ten-day period is allowed to obtain a building permit within the date of notification of plan approval. All work must be completed within 90 days of the issuance of the permit.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

apartment deck inspection

Landlord’s Responsibilities and the Importance of Apartment Deck Inspection

The responsibilities of a landlord should include accommodation and safety of his tenants. Other than that, a landlord should also focus on regular apartment deck inspection to ensure everything is in shape.

 

 

 

Duties and Responsibilities

 

As a landlord, you are expected to keep the home of your tenants safe. So you are inclined to provide your tenants with a secure place to live. Therefore, you must know how to secure the property by installing security locks or cameras in conspicuous locations.

 

 

When a previous tenant moves out, you need to ensure that the locks have been replaced before a new one moves in. At the same time, you must not allow repairmen to work unsupervised inside the apartment of the tenant. Obviously, this could lead to claims of robbery.

 

 

Additional carbon monoxide or smoke detectors must be in place in case of emergencies. Moreover, you should make sure that your tenants feel safe outside the building. This includes the repair of any broken step or unstable handrail in order to keep the surroundings free from hazard.

 

 

 

Comfortable Environment

 

It is expected by your tenants that their home is safe, but it should also be quiet. This must be enforced when you are screening potential tenants wherein they should be respectful of others. Therefore, there should be a strict implementation of quiet hours that should be free from loud music or noises after a particular hour.

 

 

 

Clean Surroundings

 

If you are the landlord, you need to ensure that the apartment is clean. Part of your job is to maintain the property as a whole. This includes the removal of trash daily, which should be agreed upon by the tenant and the management.

 

 

This also includes the elimination of pests around the property. You may hire a professional to do this or you can do this yourself if you can manage. So you need to prioritize apartment deck inspection on a regular basis to keep the property safe. Of course, it is part of your responsibility to respond to tenant requests promptly.

 

 

 

Apartment Deck Inspection

 

Aside from being mandated by law, apartment deck inspection is part of your responsibility as a landlord. Needless to say, your tenants would want to see apartment decks when they live there and even make prospective tenants want to check it out.

 

 

According to Senate Bill 721, elements to be inspected would include elements such as balconies, decks, entryways, porches, stairs, and walkways. That if they extend beyond the exterior walls of the building. Moreover, that would be 6 or more feet above the ground with stability and support from wood or wood-based products.

 

 

Therefore, you need to do a regular, annual inspection to ensure that these decks can be used safely by tenants’ family and friends. Take note that past collapses of exterior decks and failed railings have resulted in the loss of life if not severe injuries.

 

 

 

Your responsibility is to allow licensed structural pest control operators, general contractors, architects or engineers to inspect your apartment deck, porch, stairs, or balcony and other attachments. Allowing licensed professionals to assure the safety of your tenants will guarantee that you will never run out of tenants.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

elevated decks

Elevated Decks Should Be Designed With Safety as Priority

There are many factors that impact the design for elevated decks. Among these factors are engineering, slow work conditions, and safety issues, which add up to high bids.

 

 

Depending on the height involved in building elevated decks, it is critical to apply caution and planning to get the job done. Here are important considerations when it comes to the construction of elevated or high-level decks.

 

 

 

Designing For Height

 

  • Bracing – Taller support posts on elevated decks will require bracing, aside from the need for lateral stability. Take note that such a design isn’t only a regular deck on stilts. This is the reason why special design considerations are needed when it involves a huge distance from the ground.

 

  • Stairs – An elevated deck design includes stairs, which is an integral part that connects the lower and upper levels. To conserve floor space, it is often placed outside. The length of the stairs can also be minimized by landing it near the house.

 

  • Railing – If your house has a high deck, the design of the railing is critical. Standard rail height for decks more than 12 feet should be around 42 inches.

 

  • Grill – It is important to add reinforcement to the structure through the heavy grill. You can add double or triple joists where the grill is. A spa can be reinforced using added columns and beams that make a continuous load path down the footings. So you can also double the joists under the spas so that the span between beams can be shortened.

 

 

Take note that height is not all about reinforcement and safety though, so a higher elevation can suggest more design possibilities. For stacked decks, for instance, you can put a porch by the lower level through a watertight floor between decks. Additionally, you may consider framing and screening the walls.

 

 

 

Big Footings

 

Typical sized footings might not be enough for a single elevated deck. For one, these might not be enough to support stacked decks. Thus, it is important to consider footings that are wider and deeper than usual to handle the increase in loads.

 

 

 

Scaffolding

 

Always remember that when elevation increases, the overall level of difficulty in building decks also increases. This is because the scaffolding can get more extensive. So the higher the work zone is, the more time-consuming it will be for moving materials, people, and tools.

 

 

 

Safety Issues

 

There are many more factors that builders need to focus, which include stacking decks over wood columns. However, it is always a top concern for builders to consider safety.

 

 

Designing elevated decks can be a concern for the crew and the contractor. In fact, even safety harnesses and scaffolding are not enough to eliminate the possibility of getting injured.

 

 

 

Therefore, management must focus on safety and make sure everybody involved should participate. So it is the responsibility of everyone to understand the risks and difficulties in working with height. At the same time, they should have a working knowledge of scaffolding safety as well as the proper usage of safety harnesses.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

balcony decks - inspection

Why it pays to Have Balconies and Decks Inspected

Balcony decks can be the highlight of a home, which is why it’s very important to make sure that they are safe, secure and sturdy enough to be enjoyed for the years to come. And with the passing of Senate Bill 721 in California last year, deck inspections are now more important than ever.

 

Here’s why:

 

These exterior elements are constantly exposed to the elements

Balcony decks take a lot of beating—from snow loads to the weight of people on it—and it causes them to undergo wear and tear more quickly than most other parts of the house. With an inspection, any faults or damages can be addressed right away before they get worse.

 

 

Safe balconies and decks mean fewer expenses

Although it’s easy to think that an inspection is only added expense, it actually helps you save money in the long run. By making sure that your balcony decks are safe for use, you will not have to spend on frequent repairs or replacements and you can also avoid devastating accidents that can injure or even kill people.

 

 

Having your deck or balcony checked for safety is, without a doubt, a great investment because it can bring you more benefits than you can ever imagine.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon

deck inspection

Why Your Deck or Balcony Should Be Inspected

Decks, balconies, and porches have been important elements to many houses for many years. Although home designs have evolved immensely throughout the years, these external structures have remained staples because of how they add that extra space perfect for entertaining and how they can increase the overall value of a property.

 

But this great addition to your home can easily be catastrophic if you don’t pay attention to your responsibilities as a homeowner. A deck inspection is one of the most important tasks that you should invest in for your home and here’s why:

 

 

Many Decks or Balconies may not be Safe

 

It is said that only 40% out of the 45 million decks in existence are completely safe. This is mainly because not many people realize how important it is to build a deck properly thinking that it’s just an extension and wouldn’t need as much investment as the main structure of a house.

 

But while building a deck looks easy, it actually requires proper calculations and good craftsmanship to make sure that it can support the weight of the people on it, the objects placed on it and the other elements that could add to its load. A deck inspection is necessary to identify any faults in a deck’s structure so it could be addressed immediately.

 

 

A Deck Failure can Bring Devastating Consequences

 

A deck collapse that killed six people in Berkeley, California in 2015 is just one of the proofs that when a deck inspection is taken for granted, it could lead to devastating consequences. This incident prompted the passing of Senate Bill 721 in California that required all buildings with decks to be inspected for safety. But even if you don’t live in the sunny state, it’s your responsibility to keep your family and guests safe whenever they’re on your deck or balcony by making sure that it is inspected for any defects before a deck failure can happen.

 

 

A Well-Maintained Deck or Balcony can Bring you Better Revenues

 

There will come a time when you would want to sell your property, and when that time comes, you will surely thank yourself for investing in a deck inspection even if you think that it’s only an added expense now. The thing is, home buyers these days are more meticulous than ever. They don’t only look for the obvious selling points of a house, but they also get into the nitty-gritty of it.

 

Some would even go as far as hiring a building inspector to check a property they’re eyeing on before they seal the deal. Now, if you want to get ahead of the game, having a well-maintained deck or balcony can really give you that advantage. Plus, you’ll also get excellent returns since your property would increase in value.

 

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about how you take care of your home. By making sure that you have everything covered including your deck inspection, you’ll feel safer at home knowing that you can host those dinner parties on your deck or balcony without any worries of collapse or accident.

 

 

 


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon