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deck safety in Halifax

Did you Know? May is Deck Safety Month

Did You Know? May Is Deck Safety Month

HRM has had its share of deck collapses in recent years. These events highlight the importance of building to current code standards, as well as annual inspections and maintenance. Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot the issues and take steps to correct them.

Code Compliance when Building Decks in the HRM

Building code standards are frequently updated and revised to reflect updated information and technology. What was acceptable in the past likely would not be compliant or safe by today’s standards. The most common areas that fail inspections are stairs, railings, and guardrails, as well as flashing, the connection to the house/structure, and footings.

  • Depending on the height of your deck from the ground, the railing should be 36-42” high
  • Stairs have a range of acceptable dimensions for the rise and tread which vary depending on the application
  • Spacing in guardrails should be less than 4”
  • Footings extending past the frost line are required for all decks attached to a house
  • The ledger board should be bolted to the house
  • Flashing should be installed above and behind the ledger board to prevent water penetration

Check out this permit application guideline for decks from HRM.

 

Annual Inspections & Deck Maintenance

Annual inspections and maintenance can help prolong your deck’s life, maintain structural integrity, and prevent injuries. If you think there’s a problem or you’re unsure you should always bring in a professional to have a look.

  • Visually inspect the wood for splitting or decaying
  • Make sure the flashing is intact and no water or debris are accumulating
  • Verify that the ledger board is fastened and secured to the house and that the fasteners are in good condition (no rust or corrosion)
  • Deck, stairs, and railings should not move, they should be secure with no wobbling or swaying
  • Regularly clean up leaves and debris as they can be slipping hazards and also promote mildew and deterioration
  • Keep snow to a minimum and shovel as needed to prevent overloading the structure

Check out this 10-Point Deck Safety Checklist for homeowners from The North American Deck and Railing Association.

Examples of a Failing Deck that are not Code Compliant in HRM

Raised Deck Surface with No Safety Railing

Raised Deck Surface with No Railings

Incorrect Railing Installation Unable to Handle Strong Winds

Railing Unable to Handle Strong Winds

Deck with no Safety Railing

Deck with No Safety Railing

No Railing on Both Sides of Stairs

No Railing on Both Sides of Stairs

Improper Deck Footings

Improper Deck Footings

No Joists or Hangers, No Lag Bolts

Improper Connection to House or Wall

Concrete Footings Cracking/Breaking

Improper Deck Footings

Improper Deck Footings

 

We take pride in the design and installation of the decks we build. That’s why we take care of everything, including the permit application, for you. Each project is built to be safe and structurally sound, adhering to both the current National Building Code and HRM standards. If you have concerns or need your deck replaced, give us a call for a complimentary assessment and/or quote.

Deck renovators in Halifax

The Deck Building Process

The following is a brief description of the deck building process. We have also written an article titled “Design Considerations” that we encourage you to read if you’re seriously considering building a deck.

Before considering any deck building project, you should determine what your budget is, make sure there are no zoning conflicts, and check with your Home Owners Association so you know their requirements.

The first step in the deck building process is to set a time to meet at the jobsite, preferably when both decision-makers are home. Although decks may look quite simple, no two decks are alike, materials vary considerably, every jobsite is different – thus we don’t give “general bids” over the phone without first seeing the property. A typical first meeting will take 1 ½ to 2 hours. Larger jobs may take more time.

The goal during the first meeting is to find out the scope of the project, including size, how the deck will be used, what materials you’re interested in, and do you want enhancements like lighting, grilling stations, fire pits, pergolas, etc. With simple projects, we are able to give immediate cost to construct.

For larger projects, we’ll schedule a second meeting and provide you with a “footprint” drawing of the proposed deck, along with the estimate, samples, and other materials. There is no fee for the estimate to this point. If additional designs are desired, including 3D drawings, we enter into a retainer agreement for these services.

After a contract has been signed, we then acquire a building permit. Permitting consists of two parts. First we draw a set of plans so the building department can verify the design and materials. The second part of the permitting process requires acceptance from the zoning department. Most projects require permits. It is the responsibility of the contractor, not the homeowner, to acquire the permit. This also places the liability on the builder and not the homeowner.

As the permit is being acquired, we also order materials so they can be staged and ready for delivery. During this period we often like to bring the crew leader to your home to see the project, meet homeowners, etc. It typically takes at least two weeks or more to look at a job, draft a contract, draft plans, acquire the building permit, and acquire materials.

Project durations vary depending on factors like deck size, height, access, weather, efficiency of the builder, number and type of accessories, and type of materials being used. Spring and the early summer months is the peak deck building season since most people want projects completed prior to the warm summer months so they can enjoy their newly built decks. Make sure you plan ahead if you want your deck completed early in the year so you don’t end up months out on a deck builder’s schedule.

We build decks year around. Although bad weather can impact a job, we don’t usually lose many working days to cold, snow, or rain. Wind is usually our biggest weather obstacle and is more prominent in the spring. The advantages of building a deck in the fall and winter months are that there aren’t usually material delays and lumber prices are usually less (lumber is a commodity, thus supply and demand dictate price).

To schedule an estimate, click here.