Maintaining a well-maintained and safe deck is essential for enjoying outdoor living spaces. While many homeowners are capable of handling minor repairs, it’s important to recognize the limits of DIY deck repair. What is the safety limit when you are DIYing a deck repair, or you are soliciting your friend, or local “handyman” for help? When is it a wise time to call in a true deck professional?
While homeowners are able to handle minor deck repairs, mostly on the aesthetic side of the equation. Lacking a true understanding of structural framing, substrates, hardware, deck specific building materials and techniques will leave a knowledge gap in regard to safety.
Understanding the limits and keeping safety in mind, will provide the North Star for you when determining the best time to bring in a professional for your deck problem.
DIYing and Hiring Non-Professionals
Doing it yourself (DIY) is nice to save you a few bucks, but when it comes to your safety, and that of your family and friends – is it really worth it?
Tightening a few screws or replacing a ballaster that your drunk friend knocked out at the last Superbowl party could be completed with basic tools, and minimal expertise. But what if you have a more involved, serious issue?
More Serious Problem? Illuminate the Bat Signal!
When it comes to deck damage that involves framing, foundation or serious safety issues, it is time to consult a deck professional.
Regarding safety, pay particular attention to damage on a deck’s structural components; these are the ledger, posts, joists, and beams. If you spot therot (dry rot), insect damage, bending due to water issues, there’s likely damage that needs a professional eye to assess its extent, and to find other hidden damage you cannot see.
In addition to identifying the damage, the professional will determine the underlying causes, while creating a comprehensive list of solutions. When it comes to the safety and structural stability of your deck, only a professional can determine a proper course of action.
Earthquake Country Equals Foundational Issues
Another area that may compromise the safety of your deck is the foundation. In California, there are a number of seismic events that move the ground, causing shifts in your deck’s post & bean supports.
A deck professional will be able to see any problems with the footings, usually made of concrete poured into the ground, to which the posts are attached. Issues with the “grade” (ground, soil) may cause the foundation to unsafely shift or sink, compromising stability.
Comply with The Code
A number of city, state, and local jurisdictions have a set of building codes for residential decks. These codes are detailed, and quite confusing to the average DIYer or non-deck professional, and sometimes may appear like reading ancient hieroglyphics.
However, if these building regulations are ignored you will not only have safety problems, but legal problems with government bureaucrats.
Deck professionals are well-versed in code requirements and can ensure that your deck is currently up-to-code and any repairs meet the necessary standards. This will keep those bureaucrats from darkening your doors.
One Final Word
A small repair project may not need you to illuminate the Bat Signal, but with larger, more involved projects it is a safe bet to consult with a deck professional. Structural problems, foundational issues, safety and code compliance are all reasons to access an advisor’s knowledge.
In the long run, having a pro in your corner will save you time, money and provide you peace of mind.