The author makes some very good points for consultants to consider… Using language that everyday people will understand. Especially when it comes to condominium boards of directors.
There are many things to consider when doing a visual inspection and certainly one of them is how bad is the degradation of concrete? Since a visual is only limited to what we can see and we don’t have x-ray vision there can certainly be damage inside of concrete that we are not aware of… Unconsolidated concrete rebar that isn’t properly tied sized etc. Hidden water damage may also exist.
So that is difficult to say and as a consultant myself I don’t want to panic people but we certainly also need to make sure that we have their attention as to the dire need for repairs in the “immediate future”. So instead of saying immediate future perhaps the answer is to say repairs need to be made within the next month to 6 months otherwise further degradation may continue and require more expensive and extensive repairs. Basically we need to cover our ass so that if another Champlain happens somebody isn’t going to get theirs handed to them.
Rarely does a day go by without my Google alerts, “deck collapse” & “deck fire” sending me an email about another balcony collapsing somewhere or someone’s grill or fire pit on their deck was the cause of a major house fire.
Two weeks ago the headlines were about the Malibu balcony collapse, where 16 people fell to the rocks 15 feet below while at a house party on the coast. Fortunately no one died. This time. Six years ago, six students died and seven were seriously and permanently injured…broken backs, crushed lungs, featured bones, when the balcony they were standing on to take a picture for a birthday celebration suddenly collapsed.
I remember waking up the morning of June 16th 2015 to see the grisly photograph of blood pooled on the sidewalk, a balcony laying flipped over on the balcony below and staring at the broken cantilevered beams that had rotted away and breaking down in tears. Today I still tear up at the thought of what happened. Berkeley was so avoidable. Malibu was so avoidable. Every balcony collapse is so avoidable.
Something else happens when I read about another balcony collapse-I get angry…very angry. In my opinion, a deck inspection by a competent inspector should be able to find the small clues that a deck about to fail leaves…and my anger is directed at the homeowner, property manager, whoever is in charge, who did not opt to spend $300-1000 on a deck inspection but is willing to spend tens of thousands on legal fees to defend their lack of due diligence.
Many decks, especially wood decks are older and worn. Wood rots, nails rust, supports become weaker, and if additions have been added on top of the deck, then extra weight that probably wasn’t factored into the engineering calculations creates additional stresses on the structure.
Before your next party, before you rent the house with the “large expansive deck” on AirBnB, before another deck collapses with people on it and are injured or killed, for God’s sake, get your deck inspected.
Forget the money it costs, think about the guilt you’ll feel having blood on your hands.
DeckExpert.com answers your questions about deck waterproofing methods and materials for only $25.00.
“I am building a new roof deck as part of a full house remodel and I found you when researching my waterproofing options. My builder is suggesting hot mop, but I am not sure it is an appropriate option for a deck. The deck is on the plywood substrate and will not be heavily used (it is primarily there due to city’s set back requirement), but I still want to make sure that it can withstand light use. We are planning to install modular deck tiles on top of the decking surface.”Marat B San Francisco CA
Thanks for writing; you’re wise to have done some research and raise doubts about “hot mop” for waterproofing a roof deck.
Today’s modern deck waterproofing systems from our manufacturer’s provide all in one solutions to your waterproofing dilemma. The decking/roofing systems under Division 7 Pedestrian Walking Decks are all tough durable membranes that can be finished to look like wood, tile, stone etc.
Alternatively, if you want a wood deck on pedestals above a waterproof surface, walking deck systems are still your best choice. The coatings can be installed and then pedestals can be placed on top of the waterproofing and a deck system built on top. With this method you should allow for being able to remove the decking to clean the waterproof surface periodically of debris. Extra slope over the minimum code required 1/4″ per foot may help flush debris off. I would suggest draining off roof edges rather than roof deck drains (ThunderbirdProducts.com) as debris may clog drains at the worst possible time. If you opt for drains, use a minimum of a 3″ drain and 3″ ABS pipe.
If you review our site, you’ll find lots of information and advice that should be useful in your quest. Make sure to read, understand and meet all requirements for a waterproof deck system and always use Best Practices to go over and above code which is just a bare minimum. For instance, use 1 1/8″ plywood over the minimum 5/8″.
Good luck with your project, Bill Leys The Deck Expert
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