you get what you pay for- or, you pay for what you get

posted Sep 16, 2015, 1:58 PM by Amy Stone
Mr. Anon decided he wanted to build a deck on the back of his house.  He went to the local home improvement store (LHIS) where he was given some advice about how to connect the deck to the house and also shown this nifty new product for the footing.  
not an engineered footer
see how the 4x4 fits right into the hole on top?  Perfect, right?  Just needs a flat, level surface and you're halfway there.
But, no.  See that advice from LHIS was free.  And Mr. Anon had to rebuild the entire deck- including the attachment to the house.  
1- the ledger attachment to the house is tightly controlled.  For your edification, I posted below the part out of IRC 2015 for you to look at.  As engineers, we are not about to go against such explicit building code. 
2- things that are attached to the house are considered permanent.  Permanent things need footers that are below the frost line or 18" deep minimum.  You can see that this product does not meet that.
3- all load paths must be considered.  As we all know, wind creates uplift, there is nothing in this product to keep the deck from blowing UP in a strong wind (then ripping off the house).

Now, I'm not saying that you all need to call me to add on a deck to your house.  Actually, the City says you all need to call me, but that's beside the point.  
The point is that home construction advice from LHIS is often worse than worthless.  It is often damaging and costly to repair.  

Also in the interests of saving you money and time and frustration (because I have your best interests at heart) the IRC has joist tables for minimum joist sizes for a particular span.  It also has suggested details for a lot of typical connections on a deck.  

Now that the heat of summer is waning, deck season is just getting started.  Enjoy safely!

*Outlier totally gets the irony of giving out free advice while enumerating the shortfalls of someone else's free advice.

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Amy Stone,
Sep 16, 2015, 1:58 PM
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