Category Archives: Berkeley deck collapse

 SB 721 Will Force the Inspections of Decks-Who Should Perform the Inspections?

DeckExpert.com supports the inspection bill for decks. The Berkeley tragedy, the lives lost and the survivors who are left with serious life long injuries, has brought us all to realize the need to implement an inspection & repair program on a statewide level. This “accident” was no accident. 

The collapse at Berkeley was on a path to occur somewhere-the building industry in California and beyond will argue against my points, but this tragedy was years in the making. There are many reasons for this-from architecture schools that don’t teach it’s students the basics of waterproofing.  For example, right here at Cal Poly SLO, many courses, not one on waterproofing. I’ve offered to give a lecture at Cal Poly; my offers have been meet with silence.

http://www.catalog.calpoly.edu/collegesandprograms/collegeofarchitectureandenvironmentaldesign/architecture/#courseinventory

The architect who designed the balcony in Berkeley designed it poorly. The glue-lam beams, not supposed to be cut, but he called for them to be. The waterproofing membrane, not supposed to be used on low slope plywood decks, Few architects truly understand waterproofing principles in my opinion. There are those that specialize in repairing deficient buildings and decks, but they are the exception, not the rule.

General contractors don’t “get” deck waterproofing. To them it’s a minor thought, where the cheapest bid is the best for them, it puts more money onto their bottom line. Most I talked with as a waterproofing contractor didn’t understand sequencing/scheduling the waterproofing work. I give seminars at JLC Live Residential Construction show and my room is filled with general contractors who know they don’t know enough. With water intrusion issues the number one issue in construction defect litigation, it’s a serious problem.

Currently the CSLB does not have a license classification for waterproofing contractors. They did, but for some reason it went away. Currently 3 specialty license classifications can perform waterproofing services C-8, Concrete, C-33 Painters D-12 Synthetic Products and B licensed contractors can as well. Reviews of sample tests from CSLB reveal little if any knowledge of waterproofing is required as their tests don’t ask anything about waterproofing. Even more disturbing, D-12 contractors don’t even take a test on the trade portion like the other trades.

The biggest problem I see in the construction industry is the evil practice of “piece work” pay, where a worker is paid by his production rate, rather than being paid by the hour. In piece work, “Joe” is paid a set rate to install the framing for the deck. If it takes an average of 12 hours to frame a deck, piece work pay may be set arbitrarily and only gives “Joe” an incentive to finish faster. If he takes 12 hours to frame the deck he makes the same as he would if he framed it in 8 hours. “Joe’s” incentive is to get it done in 8 hours. If it passes inspection (meeting code is like getting a C- in school) the contractor is happy, Joe is to because he won’t get docked for a “go back” charge to fix the deficiency.

“Tom” also gets paid to waterproof the deck on a piece rate. “Tom’s” incentive is to get the deck waterproofed as fast as possible to maximize his take home pay.

From my experience in working for production waterproofing companies, it’s one big cheating cluster fuck of a mess. The workers cheat to max their pay. Want me to bring a few to a Senate hearing? They’ll tell you. It is not possible to perform the job and make a living wage under piece work pay without cheating.  The project manager? He’s getting a bonus if he delivers the project on time and under budget. On time means to damn bad the deck is wet, waterproof it anyway.

One big question stands out-were the employees of Segue Construction & R Brothers Waterproofing being paid piece rate when that balcony was built and waterproofed?

These problems must be addressed in tandem with implementing laws on decks and balcony inspections.

So who should inspect the thousands of  waterproofed decks and balconies in California? And at the same time, why aren’t wood balconies and decks being included? I read that in a five year period, over 33,000 people were injured in deck collapses.

I don’t believe that pest control inspectors or general contractors are the best qualified people to inspect decks. Architects and engineers are better qualified, but has anyone asked them if they want this job?

Several answers exist; first, a deck inspection checklist needs to be developed that every inspector will use and file with the appropriate authority.

NADRA (North American Deck & Railing Association, NADRA.org  has a comprehensive checklist for inspecting decks. Their annual deck safety month in May helps to illuminate the need for regular deck inspections. NADRA also has a course for qualifying inspectors as “deck inspectors”. These inspectors are capable pro’s who perform deck and home inspections on properties for sale. They certainly could, with some training on waterproof deck membranes, be qualified to inspect decks under SB 721.

The Roof Consultants Institute (RCI-online.org) is an international association of building envelope consultants. It’s members specialize in design, investigation, repair and management of roofing exterior wall and waterproofing systems. As waterproof decks are indeed roofing systems keeping the interior dry, these consultants are well qualified to perform deck inspections.

Lets also not forget that there are the deck waterproofing companies themselves who inspect decks daily as I do as a deck inspector, who have personnel that are qualified to perform inspections.

It’s my belief that before the state arbitrarily designates who is “qualified” to inspect, that the state determines if in fact general contractors, pest control companies, architects and engineers are actually qualified.

To accomplish that, testing and certification is necessary.

I hope to enlist NADRA and RCI in this endeavor to develop and certify deck inspectors.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide my input. I hope that together we can all work towards ensuring that balcony collapses and the injuries and deaths that come with them become a thing of the past in California and nationwide.

CA Senator Jerry Hill Introduces SB-721 Contractors: decks and balconies: inspection

DeckExpert.com Supports Requiring Deck Inspections

Bill Duplicates Berkeley Bill Langauge in Who Can Perform Inspections

Should structural pest control operators, general contractors, architects or engineers inspect deck inspections as the state of CA is proposing?

They will be if the consulting and inspection industry doesn’t act quickly and object. Senator Hill has just introduced a bill that uses much the same language Berkeley’s city ordinance does.

“The inspection shall be performed by a licensed general contractor, structural pest control licensee, licensed architect, licensed engineer, or other licensee as approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The purpose of the inspection is to verify that all of the balconies and other elevated walking surfaces covered by this section are in generally safe condition, adequate working order, and free from hazardous dry rot, fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration to the extent that the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants is not endangered.”

My thoughts-

Structural Pest Control Licensee-pest control licensee’s inspect buildings for termites/wood destroying organisms. They do not test roofs (or balconies) for water tightness, nor are they qualified to do so. Roof contractors can do so, but generally exclude themselves from inspecting decks. Pest control licensee’s do not know about waterproof coated decks, how they are installed, what problems to look for when doing an inspection and even if they do see a problem, don’t understand what caused it, what degree of a problems it is or how to repair it.

General Contractors-Most GC’s I know don’t know much about waterproofed coated decks and even less about the problems they may have. Indeed, I give seminars on Best Building Practices Building & Waterproofing Decks where the room is filled with GC’s. Ask a GC about flashings and door pans and coating application procedures and their eyes will usually glaze over; they just don’t know. Think of a General Contractor as a Doctor practicing general medicine-they know enough to get by and enough to refer you to a specialist. You wouldn’t go see your general practitioner for a heart problem and you wouldn’t call a General Contractor to come fix your waterproof deck. You would call a specialist who practices waterproofing every day just like you’d call a heart specialist for an operation.

Architects- in my review of the plans for Berkeley, I found multiple design issues with the deck plans. I called a friend of mine who graduated from the Cal-Poly SLO school of architecture and asked him how many classes or lectures he had on waterproofing in general and deck waterproofing specifically. None was his answer. I checked various architecture schools websites for classes on waterproofing. I am still searching, there’s got to be one.  I’ve been on jobs arguing with the architect about his design and how I’m supposed to waterproof it in…they are asking me what I think. Listen you are the one with the degree you just threw in my face; you design the waterproofing system, I’m only the waterproofing contractor.  Either I walk off the job because they’re an egotist asshole or they admit they need my help and I help them. What makes anyone think they know what’s wrong with a waterproof deck?

Engineers- Unless the intent is to push business to the large waterproofing consulting firms, who charge fees that many can’t afford, few engineers are or want to be qualified to inspect waterproofing projects.

So Who Should Be Inspecting Waterproof Decks?

Answer-Qualified Deck Inspectors. What makes a “qualified” deck inspector? People who have been in the trade. People who actually have experience installing waterproof decks.

Members of NADRA, the North American Deck & Railing Association, has a deck inspection course and qualified deck inspectors many of whom are also home inspectors.

I believe a course on how to inspect waterproof decks, with a checklist of items to use during the inspection, should be developed. As with home inspectors, no license is required. This should be the case here as well. There are many qualified individuals who could perform deck inspections but would be removed from doing so if the bill passes with it’s current language.

DeckExpert.com recommends changes to the bill in regards to who can perform the deck inspections. What do you think?

Waterproofing Classifications CSLB-Maybe a license classification for waterproofing contractors should be reinstated by CSLB, currently several classes of contractors can waterproof decks, inc roofers, painters and synthetic products contractors. This creates confusion and disparity in the industry as roofers even of they are exempt from workers comp because they have no employees, must still have a workers comp policy in place. A painter is exempt from being required to have workers comp as is the synthetic products contractor.

 

The full text of the bill is below. Please register and comment on the bill to add your thoughts.

An act to add Section 7071.20 to the Business and Professions Code, relating to contractors.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

 

SB 721, as introduced, Hill. Contractors: decks and balconies: inspection.
Existing law provides authority for an enforcement agency to enter and inspect any buildings or premises whenever necessary to secure compliance with or prevent a violation of the building standards published in the California Building Standards Code and other rules and regulations that the enforcement agency has the power to enforce.
This bill would require the inspection of decks, balconies, and elevated walkways more than 6 feet above ground level in a building containing 3 or more multifamily units by a person licensed to perform these inspections by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bill would require the inspections and any necessary repairs to be completed by January 1, 2021, and would require subsequent inspections every 5 years, except as specified. The bill would require a copy of the inspection report to be filed with the county recorder and made available, as specified. The repairs made under these provisions would be required to comply with the latest edition of the California Building Standards Code and all local jurisdictional requirements. The bill would authorize local enforcing agencies to recover enforcement costs associated with these requirements.
Because this bill would impose new duties upon local enforcement authorities, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

Section 7071.20 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

7071.20.

(a) All buildings containing three or more multifamily dwelling units, any existing balcony or other elevated walking surface exposed to water, including, but not limited to, rain, snow, or irrigation, with structural framing that is protected by an impervious moisture barrier shall be inspected. For purposes of this section, balconies or other elevated walking surfaces less than six feet above grade are not included. The inspection shall be performed by a licensed general contractor, structural pest control licensee, licensed architect, licensed engineer, or other licensee as approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The purpose of the inspection is to verify that all of the balconies and other elevated walking surfaces covered by this section are in generally safe condition, adequate working order, and free from hazardous dry rot, fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration to the extent that the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants is not endangered.

Building elements, including the walking surface, structural frame and connector hardware, weatherproofing, landings, stairway systems, guardrails, handrails, and any other elements critical to the safety of the balcony or elevated walking surface, found to be in need of repair or replacement, hazardous, structurally deficient, or noncompliant shall, upon determination by the licensed professional, be immediately corrected by the property owner or individual responsible for management or operation of the building. All necessary permits for repair or replacement of exterior balconies and elevated walking surfaces shall be obtained from the local jurisdiction. All repair and replacement work, including installation and inspection of impervious moisture barrier systems, must be performed in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions, the latest edition of the California Building Standards Code, and all local jurisdictional requirements.
(b) The inspection and repairs shall be completed by January 1, 2021, and every five years thereafter. The licensed professional conducting the inspection shall produce an initial report that states the condition of the building features and recommendations for repair, conditioning, or replacement and a final report indicating that all of the required repairs have been completed. A copy of the final report shall be submitted to the county recorder for recordation. Local enforcing agencies may determine the information to be provided in the report and require a copy of the initial or final reports, or both, to be submitted to the local jurisdiction in lieu of recordation.
(c) Multifamily buildings of three units or more for which a building permit application has been submitted on or after February 1, 2017, are exempt from the inspection certification requirements for a period of five years following issuance of a certificate of occupancy from the local jurisdiction.
(d) The continued and ongoing maintenance of balconies and elevated walking surfaces and parts thereof, in a safe and sanitary condition, shall be the responsibility of the owner or the owner’s designated agent. To determine ongoing compliance with this subdivision, the enforcing agency shall have the authority to require reinspection of those structures.
(e) Local enforcing agencies shall have the ability to recover enforcement costs associated with the requirements of this section.

SEC. 2.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.

Property Management Company KNEW DECK WAS FLAWED, DID NOTHING!Students Injured as a Result Get 1.6 Million Settlement.

dsc0013
                                                    Dry-rotted Framing Where Deck Attached to Building.                                                                            Photo courtesy of Robert Clayton Attorney

Wolfe & Associates Property Management Co paid a settlement of $1,600,000.00 to students injured when a deck they were on or under collapsed at a party during Deltopia in Santa Barbara CA. The reason Wolfe paid this settlement in my opinion? They knew the deck was flawed after getting a termite report that called out dry-rot, fungus and loose materials on the deck, yet they opted to do nothing.

Let me say it again, they opted to do nothing, no repairs, no notice to the occupants, nothing. They deliberately and IMO maliciously decided to not repair the deck. What scum does that? This goes towards proving my theory that property managers and management companies won’t fix something until someone dies!

Read the story here and read the termite report that led to the settlement. Similar to Berkeley, one of the POS defense lawyers wanted to blame the victims, saying there were to many people on the deck. Excuse me, but f you lawyer. It was your clients fault and you know it.

Lets hope that this case and the upcoming Berkeley lawsuit will teach these management companies a costly lesson. Hell it’s only money, soaked in blood.

 

These Words Should Send a Chill Down The Building Industries Back!

Maybe you didn’t feel it, but on November 12th, the building industry was shaken up. Hard, like they got punched, and punched and punched. The law firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is representing Aoife Beary and another party who are suing for damages from the result of the balcony collapsing on June 16th of this year.  

The suit asks for damages, enough to make an example out of the defendants, enough so THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN! Every person involved in building decks, especially cantilevered, are now on notice that it better be done perfectly and correctly. OR YOU WILL PAY. Remember to, the DA’s office is investigating this too and criminal charges may still come!

BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID! 

NO OSB SHOULD BE EVER USED! THIS LIST OF ALLEGATIONS IS A LIST
OF EVERY DECK PROBLEM I SEE ALL THE TIME
So here you are building industry, property management industry, design industry etc; start designing, building, sequencing and use the right materials cause the deaths of these poor kids WILL NOT BE IN VAIN! READ THIS LIST, IT’S JUST A WHO’S WHO OF THE SINS I SEE DURING INSPECTIONS AND WHEN I WAS WATERPROOFING DECKS! 
LESSON-IF YOU SCREW UP AND PEOPLE DIE, YOU PROBABLY WILL GO TO JAIL AND PAYA WHOLE LOT OF MONEY, AND HAVE TO LIVE WITH THOSE THAT DIED ON YOUR CONSCIENCE. 
NOT WORTH IT, DO IT RIGHT, IT ONLY COSTS A LITTLE MORE THAN DOING IT WRONG. 

Signs Your Deck Needs To Be Inspected

We have had a lot of traffic recently to our site from people who are concerned about their decks. We want to assure you that your waterproofed deck probably isn’t going to collapse, but many wood decks do collapse on a near everyday basis in the US. How can you check your waterproof solid surface deck to see if it has any warning signs of danger?

Do use our photograph’s to check your deck for signs of problems and dangerous conditions. If you find these conditions, you’ll want to have a deck inspector review your deck and give you a report with a basic scope of work to use to obtain bids with. Don’t let a deck waterproofing contractor write his scope of work, they may be complete and truthful or they may be adding extra work and profits on.

Even if your deck is in no danger of collapse, water getting under the surface of a waterproof deck can cause damage to framing and the plywood substrate.

1.) Therefore, cracks on a deck are a warning sign. Look at your deck carefully in the field of the deck. Many times plywood moving will cause a deck to crack.

Urethane deck with seam tape showing through coating.
We recommend a professional inspection and evaluation. 

Long cracks in the field of the deck
should be inspected and repaired. 
Some decks crack because of moving plywood. This deck’s
coating cracked because of plywood not being level. 

Cracks at the edge of a deck may indicate a more serious issue underneath.
Further evaluation is recommended.

2.) Rusted metal flashings on deck edges or at deck to wall areas. Rusted areas in field of deck. Rusted railing bases.

Rusted railing bases have lost their strength and now may present a hazard
as they won’t be able to retrain you from falling. An inspection and fast repairs
need to be done in many cases to maintain safety. 

Any type of plant growth around a railing bases indicates moisture
conditions underneath. 

Rust on the metal flashing like this is a sign that further inspection
should be done and a scope of work written.

3.) Ponding Water. After a rain storm, your waterproof deck should be dry within 24 hours to at most 48 hours. Water should not ever pond longer than that. An inspection of the problem areas can help you determine what work can and needs to be done to correct a ponding water issue.

Ponds in the middle of a walkway always create problems.

Water sitting at the wall can attack exposed sheet metal causing rust and leaks.

Water sitting on an edge indicates a high edge. 

Watch for future articles discussing drains and scuppers.

Architects, General Contractors & Pest Control Technicians Have Little Understanding of Waterproofing, Why Does Berkeley Want Them to Inspect Decks Then?

On June 24th I wrote a detailed letter to the City of Berkeley’s Building Department, City Manager and City Solicitor regarding their memorandum of proposed changes to the Cities Building Codes.

They want to implement various changes related to the construction of and methods of waterproofing balconies, along with requiring inspections of decks and balconies on apartment complexes and condominiums, While their proposed changes are well intentioned, some of them are a little crazy in my opinion.

My biggest objection is having Architects, General Contractors and Pest Control Technicians inspecting decks…why do I say that?

Read my letter and leave a comment telling me what you think!

June 24, 2015
City of Berkeley
Mr. Eric Angstadt, Christine Daniel, Zach Cowan
Building & Safety Department
2120 Milvia Street
Berkeley CA 94704
Dear Mr. Angstadt, Ms Daniel and Mr Cowan,
Let me first say that I am deeply sorry and anguished over the tragedy that occurred last week with the deaths and injuries to thirteen people. I cannot fathom the sorrow that the bereaved parents and families must be experiencing.
My background includes six years as an estimator/sales person for several large deck waterproofing companies doing business in the San Diego/LA/Orange County/Ventura/San Luis Obispo areas, as well as being a CSLB licensed (currently inactive) waterproofing contractor for seven years. I am now a consultant and perform deck inspections for real estate transactions and for HOA’s. I have sold and installed hundreds of thousands of square feet of deck systems in my career.
I have been one of the experts used by several media sources for comments and opinions on the causes of the deck failure. As owner of DeckExpert.com I promote the use of Pedestrian Traffic Coatings at our website of the same name for use on balconies, stairs, roof decks and walkways. Pedestrian Traffic Coatings are walkable waterproof membranes typically used on decks, stairs and balconies covered with plywood decking and these are also listed and evaluated as roof assemblies for low slope roofs. These membranes are listed in ICC-ES’ website under Division Seven Thermal and Moisture protection under 07 18 13.
I would like to take a few moments of your time to lay out my recommendations that the City of Berkeley should consider implementing to avoid another tragedy in the future. I understand that there are several recommendations already in the works, and I would hope you will consider incorporating my recommendations as well.
As you know already, the deck that failed appeared to have a Grace 3000 bituthene membrane as it’s waterproofing, covered with a topping slab of concrete. Basically this is the same as a plaza deck, found over below grade parking structures with the living units built using wood framed construction. These plaza type decks must be carefully assembled as once covered with a topping slab, the waterproofing is impossible to inspect or repair without removal of the topping slab. Plaza decks must have a subsurface drain system in place to deal with water that is bound to get under the topping slab.
Plaza decks in my opinion and experience have had many problems with their assemblies in the past, due to the technical skill necessary and the usual lack of skilled labor who understands how to assemble them. I believe that these types of assemblies should be banned from use on top of wood framed and plywood covered decks.
  1. In lieu of plaza deck assemblies, I would instead propose that the City of Berkeley consider implementing a requirement that only pedestrian traffic coatings be used on plywood covered decks. The main reason for this is that pedestrian traffic coatings are “an all in one” solution to waterproofing these decks while providing a walkable surface at the same time. They can be easily inspected and are relatively easy to repair if damaged. Most Division Seven Pedestrian Traffic Coatings are also Class A roof rated systems (ASTM E-108) and many are also rated as One Hour assemblies (ASTM E-119), therefore meeting the Cities fire resistant requirements. Many of these systems can be finished in any number of ways with texture and pigmented sealer as well as stained/stamped etc to look like tile, stone, wood etc. There are several different system types available, leaving architects and specifiers choices among concrete based coatings, liquid applied coating, slip sheet systems and sheet goods. Concrete and many of these coatings can also be used to correct deficient slope conditions, so achieving a 1/4” slope per foot is very easy to do on flat decks that were not framed with slope in them.
  2. In regards to the Berkeley Building Code changes proposed, I concur with the recommendation to require Ventilation of weather exposed enclosed assemblies under Section 1203.6. Most of our manufacturer’s already require this in their general requirements in their CSI specifications. I also concur with the inclusion of access panels on the underside for inspection of the framing.
  3. In regards to adding Section 1404.13 Projections exposed to weather, after consideration, I concur with using pressure treated wood or steel for framing the deck. I do believe that properly waterproofed, conventional douglas fir framing is perfectly suitable for the framing, however, rot resistant materials will certainly perform better if exposed to water over a longer period of time.
  4. Under Section 2304.11.4.2 Wood structural members, I propose that the City eliminate the use of moisture permeable floors or roofs such as concrete or masonry slabs. My reasoning is that these types of assemblies trap water in them and as they are typically part of a plaza type deck system, are not conducive to using them on balconies covered in plywood anyway.
  5. Regarding adding Section 601.4 Structural Maintenance; I concur with requiring inspections. I have several changes to propose; these being requiring inspections every two years instead of the proposed five year interval. In my experience as a waterproofing contractor and consultant, five years is to long between inspections. A lot of serious damage can occur in a short time. Manufacturer’s of Pedestrian Traffic Coatings require as part of their warranty that their systems be inspected yearly. Regarding who should inspect the decks-waterproofing is a specialty trade. In my work as an educator, I usually have a room full of people where 90% or more are general contractors. General contractors are just that, generalists. I’ve found in my experience that most do not understand waterproofing in general and decks in particular. While structural pest control licensees know the signs of dry-rot, wood destroying organism infestations etc, they do not understand waterproofing either. Engineers and architects are generally familiar with waterproofing concepts and can certainly recognize inherent defects and issues with contiguous building materials and would be suitable candidates to perform inspections. I believe the best candidates to perform deck waterproofing inspections are waterproofing consultants. As a group, we are very familiar with installing and maintaining waterproofed decks and balconies. It may sound self-serving and I appreciate anyone thinking that it is, however, as an example, I’ve spent nearly 14 years as an estimator and owner and applicator of a firm specializing in waterproof deck installations. I’ve found that many of my peers were applicators and as we “age” out of being able to work on our hands and knees we seem to transition into consulting and inspecting. The Roof Consultants Institute (RCI) and Sealant Waterproofing Roofing Institute (SWRI) are two organizations that are focused on roofs, decks and waterproofing systems and are probably best qualified to do such inspections. We have familiarity with general building requirements and understand the importance of contiguous building materials needing to be weather resistant as well.
  6. I would suggest that the City add the following requirements for deck waterproofing; these being that building inspectors begin inspecting the waterproofing of the decks as it’s being installed, including inspecting the flashing system and substrate prior to covering with a membrane. Most importantly, inspectors should verify that the deck is sloped or tag the deck so that it will be sloped and they can check the slope before signing off and allowing finish coats to be installed. Once the membrane is installed, but before it is decoratively finished, it be inspected again. As part of the requirements, the City should allow only ICC-ES pedestrian traffic coatings with Class A ratings minimum and One Hour where already required. The ICC-ES report should be made part of the submittal for building permit approvals.
  7. Regarding substrate-the use of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) for pedestrian traffic coatings is not accepted by ICC-ES nor any manufacturer. All fire testing is performed using plywood only. OSB, in my experience, despite the claims by manufacturer’s that it’s better at water resistance, is a sponge. I’ve seen OSB expand and it doesn’t return to it’s original dimensions. Therefore, OSB should be banned for use on decks and plywood be the only acceptable substrate allowed. I would caution against requiring pressure treated plywood, mechanical fasteners used on some systems may not be compatible and liquid applied coatings may have issues as well with compatibility.
  8. Regarding railings-steel/aluminum railings that mount onto the deck should be banned. In my experience I’ve found that it is impossible to guarantee a waterproof deck won’t leak when railings penetrate the waterproofing. Only metal railings that mount to the fascia should be allowed. Wood 4×4 posts penetrating through the plywood and bolted to the deck framing can be flashed and waterproofed. The key in waterproofing these wood posts is that they MUST be wrapped with bituthene/Tyvek/building paper and then either boxed in for a final finish or a post sleeve, typically made of plastic/synthetic materials is slipped over and finished on top with a decorative “hip roof” style cap to shed water.
As a general note, it is contained within the CBC 1998 code 1402.2 that openings in exterior walls are required to be flashed in such a manner as to make the opening weatherproof. For waterproofing purposes on decks, metal flashings, be they galvanized steel, copper or stainless steel, are meant for the purpose of terminating our coatings to. All deck waterproofing systems must be run up the vertical leg of the flashing so that contiguous building materials are installed down over the flashing, forming a weather resistant barrier. Counter-flashings, be they Z bar or weep screed for stucco provide the mechanism for water to be shed off and away from the buildings interior.
Furthermore, as a general note, building inspectors and the building department must ensure that proper weather resistant barriers meant to waterproof the decks, the building and the foundation are specified and installed properly. These systems are just as, if not more important to long term comfort, use and enjoyment of the building than framing, mechanical and electrical systems. Inspectors should be required to closely inspect all weather resistant barriers, including siding, windows, doors, foundation waterproofing and the decks and roofs to ensure they meet or exceed code requirements.
I sincerely appreciate your concern in wanting to strengthen and improve building codes and requirements for the safety and security of occupants. I hope these recommendations will be considered and implemented. I am willing and able to appear in front of any panel, council meeting or with the building departments staff to discuss these recommendations. Please let me know if you would like me to appear to testify/discuss.
Sincerely,

William Leys