Sunday, May 06, 2007

Making a House or Deck Fall Down

In my travels I see many things that astound me, that's why I keep my camera close by.

These folks were apparently renovating their own home--since the guys in texas can flip this house I guess these folks thought it was a good idea. When you remove all the sheathing, brick cladding and drywall from the inside the home is very likely to flip --over onto the lawn.

There is no empathy to be found for these half wits here, it is the most basic principal. Without lateral bracing--sheathing, let in bracing or cable bracing (for larger buildings), the structure will fall down. If you don't know what you are doing--stay away from houses.

Driving by on Highway 92 near Elmvale Ontario my eye was drawn by a yellow van and some boys disassembling a big pile of pressure treated lumber. Ouch. I had to stop and chat with the guys and as it turned out the owner was there.

He said it was an aquaintence that built the deck for him--he was cheap and the owner knew his dad once upon a time. On first glance aside from the lack of joist hangers it doesn't look that bad.
It was obviously a low bid--and he simply couldn't afford the time to fasten anything properly. Notice the gas line beneath the deck.

When you look a little closer the ledger is fastened about every 3' with a half inch sleeve anchor--though not a terrible detail, look at the placement of the anchor. It is 1" from the top of the ledger, which means the whole deck is held up by a 2x2.
When you look a little closer you will notice that the joists are simply toenailed in with 3 galvanized spikes.

So, here is the paraphrased account from the owner. His kids were up at the house when they heard a loud crunch. The snow and ice had slid off the metal roof and landed on the deck. A few moments later the deck collapsed. The pipe beneath the deck--gas line for the bbq.
Kids get out of the house and call 911 because of the gas leak.
First Volunteer Fireman to arrive is overcome by gas trying to find the shut off.
Second nearly Succumbs to gas removing the first fireman.
Closest homes are evacuated.
So, this poorly built deck nearly cost a few lives and if there was a spark, the home would have been gone as well. This is the kind of thing that the building department is there to prevent--it didn't work too well this time.
Before the BCIN requirements came into force 90% of decks were built without a permit. Now it is closer to 95%.
Many builders and Government officials seem to be lacking some common sense of late.