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Deck Ledger Fastener Placement Video

jar546

Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
8,384
Location
Palm Beach County Florida
No decks in FL?

Not where I'm at. Everything is brick paver & concrete patios. There is such an issue with uplift in my wind zone (170mph) that they are beyond rare and if present usually on the ground near docks and boat lifts. All home construction is CMU/Tie Beam/Grade Beam, at grade with no basement or raised foundation so everything is a step-down from grade. I'm in a completely different world compared to where I came from. Even a flag pole has to be engineered.
 

Sifu

Sawhorse
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,559
Decks are an on-going frustration for me. One thing I have noticed in multiple AHJ's is the desire to provide a "rapid review" (call it whatever you want), for things like decks and basements. I get it, they are a homeowner driven permit, homeowners vote, the frenzy to provide customer service, I get all of that. Because of that I am currently not involved with them much. Here is the problem; the plans are awful. I am not saying the contractors, or even the homeowners aren't capable of building them well, but they certainly could use help with plan prep. I have seen countless checklists, most of which are awesome, but RARELY adhered to. Instead I see chicken scratch, no dimensions, complete lack of understanding of tributary areas, beam spans, ledgers...the list could go on. So what I see is the poor SOB who is doing the review, under pressure to issue a "rapid" permit, ends up doing the bulk of the design work to "help out the customer". I like helping customers, but every time it happens, the bar for good design and construction practices goes down a little more. And if the plans examiner doesn't understand these things???

We do dozens of deck permits a week. They never stop! Just for giggles I opened up 3 or 4 of them to see what is being submitted. Not one would have made it off my desk (see why I don't have to do them?). Most get passed and sent to the field with few if any comments. So what is the result? Is the inspector catching all the issues in the field? Is that the way it should work? In my opinion, a deck review should take great pains to eliminate inspection issues for both the inspector and poor customer. I saw several missing beam sizes, caisson sizes, spans, not to mention all the silly details like beam bearing, guard and stair details. IF the inspector sees this, and poor customer now has to spend more time and money to fix them, have we provide the coveted customer service? If that is the situation, just remove the review altogether and stop with the illusion that we are trying to provide a better product.

Decks, like most other aspects of construction, are a team endeavor. The builder needs to have skill, the inspector needs to be interested and knowledgeable, and the plans examiner needs to spend time on it and be willing to "hold it up". If the builder doesn't do their job, the plans examiner should point that out. If the builder and the plans examiner don't do their job, the inspector should point it out. I rarely see all three parties do an adequate job.

So what is the solution? Better code-yes. Better plan examination-yes, Better inspections-yes. But I think we can all benefit the most if we stopped treating decks as an after-thought. They are on a vast majority of homes, they are places where people gather. They are exposed to the worst weather imaginable. They are often built by people with little knowledge. I don't believe it is a customer service to produce a bad product in the name of expediency.

Better code will have little effect on the product if better education and enforcement don't take place. And none of it will matter if the AHJ doesn't take them seriously.

Just my humble opinion. Keep up the never-ending and sometimes thankless work Glen. It is appreciated.
 

Jboren

Registered User
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
5
Location
Lake Saint Louis, MO
Decks are an on-going frustration for me. One thing I have noticed in multiple AHJ's is the desire to provide a "rapid review" (call it whatever you want), for things like decks and basements. I get it, they are a homeowner driven permit, homeowners vote, the frenzy to provide customer service, I get all of that. Because of that I am currently not involved with them much. Here is the problem; the plans are awful. I am not saying the contractors, or even the homeowners aren't capable of building them well, but they certainly could use help with plan prep. I have seen countless checklists, most of which are awesome, but RARELY adhered to. Instead I see chicken scratch, no dimensions, complete lack of understanding of tributary areas, beam spans, ledgers...the list could go on. So what I see is the poor SOB who is doing the review, under pressure to issue a "rapid" permit, ends up doing the bulk of the design work to "help out the customer". I like helping customers, but every time it happens, the bar for good design and construction practices goes down a little more. And if the plans examiner doesn't understand these things???

We do dozens of deck permits a week. They never stop! Just for giggles I opened up 3 or 4 of them to see what is being submitted. Not one would have made it off my desk (see why I don't have to do them?). Most get passed and sent to the field with few if any comments. So what is the result? Is the inspector catching all the issues in the field? Is that the way it should work? In my opinion, a deck review should take great pains to eliminate inspection issues for both the inspector and poor customer. I saw several missing beam sizes, caisson sizes, spans, not to mention all the silly details like beam bearing, guard and stair details. IF the inspector sees this, and poor customer now has to spend more time and money to fix them, have we provide the coveted customer service? If that is the situation, just remove the review altogether and stop with the illusion that we are trying to provide a better product.

Decks, like most other aspects of construction, are a team endeavor. The builder needs to have skill, the inspector needs to be interested and knowledgeable, and the plans examiner needs to spend time on it and be willing to "hold it up". If the builder doesn't do their job, the plans examiner should point that out. If the builder and the plans examiner don't do their job, the inspector should point it out. I rarely see all three parties do an adequate job.

So what is the solution? Better code-yes. Better plan examination-yes, Better inspections-yes. But I think we can all benefit the most if we stopped treating decks as an after-thought. They are on a vast majority of homes, they are places where people gather. They are exposed to the worst weather imaginable. They are often built by people with little knowledge. I don't believe it is a customer service to produce a bad product in the name of expediency.

Better code will have little effect on the product if better education and enforcement don't take place. And none of it will matter if the AHJ doesn't take them seriously.

Just my humble opinion. Keep up the never-ending and sometimes thankless work Glen. It is appreciated.
Curiosity, in reference to the statement, "Better code-yes". When reviewing a deck submittal, all tributary loads, (floor, guardrail, handrail, decking and stairs), should be calculated to meet the standards per the IRC. All mechanical fasteners/ composite materials should be tested and approved with an ESRI- Report number or tested by an approved testing agency. Long winded question, but what recommendations would you suggest for a code change or additional codes? I agree with you, you can provide all the checklists, images and how to information, but it will only assist customers who are willing to use the information to build their deck.
Great day!
 

Glenn

Corporate Supporter
Staff member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
708
Location
Denver
So testing gave us information on the almot impossible lag bolt placement, which I would venture is rarely enforced. Does this coincide with real world failures?
There's more to the chaos in the history than I reveal in the video. The testing gave us the information that got it in the 2009 IRC and at that time you simply kept fasteners 2 inches away from top and bottom of the ledger. In 2012, proponents got edge distance limitations from the NDS (wood engineering) included, and that's when the figures and tables with all the crazy fastening placement rules came to be.

So what we have is Frankenstein. We have code validated by testing, that's been merged with engineering, and that's useless in practice.

I'd like to see the ledger provisions scraped and rebuilt. Trying to patch this monster is proving difficult.
 

Glenn

Corporate Supporter
Staff member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
708
Location
Denver
Decks are an on-going frustration for me. One thing I have noticed in multiple AHJ's is the desire to provide a "rapid review" (call it whatever you want), for things like decks and basements. I get it, they are a homeowner driven permit, homeowners vote, the frenzy to provide customer service, I get all of that. Because of that I am currently not involved with them much. Here is the problem; the plans are awful. I am not saying the contractors, or even the homeowners aren't capable of building them well, but they certainly could use help with plan prep. I have seen countless checklists, most of which are awesome, but RARELY adhered to. Instead I see chicken scratch, no dimensions, complete lack of understanding of tributary areas, beam spans, ledgers...the list could go on. So what I see is the poor SOB who is doing the review, under pressure to issue a "rapid" permit, ends up doing the bulk of the design work to "help out the customer". I like helping customers, but every time it happens, the bar for good design and construction practices goes down a little more. And if the plans examiner doesn't understand these things???

We do dozens of deck permits a week. They never stop! Just for giggles I opened up 3 or 4 of them to see what is being submitted. Not one would have made it off my desk (see why I don't have to do them?). Most get passed and sent to the field with few if any comments. So what is the result? Is the inspector catching all the issues in the field? Is that the way it should work? In my opinion, a deck review should take great pains to eliminate inspection issues for both the inspector and poor customer. I saw several missing beam sizes, caisson sizes, spans, not to mention all the silly details like beam bearing, guard and stair details. IF the inspector sees this, and poor customer now has to spend more time and money to fix them, have we provide the coveted customer service? If that is the situation, just remove the review altogether and stop with the illusion that we are trying to provide a better product.

Decks, like most other aspects of construction, are a team endeavor. The builder needs to have skill, the inspector needs to be interested and knowledgeable, and the plans examiner needs to spend time on it and be willing to "hold it up". If the builder doesn't do their job, the plans examiner should point that out. If the builder and the plans examiner don't do their job, the inspector should point it out. I rarely see all three parties do an adequate job.

So what is the solution? Better code-yes. Better plan examination-yes, Better inspections-yes. But I think we can all benefit the most if we stopped treating decks as an after-thought. They are on a vast majority of homes, they are places where people gather. They are exposed to the worst weather imaginable. They are often built by people with little knowledge. I don't believe it is a customer service to produce a bad product in the name of expediency.

Better code will have little effect on the product if better education and enforcement don't take place. And none of it will matter if the AHJ doesn't take them seriously.

Just my humble opinion. Keep up the never-ending and sometimes thankless work Glen. It is appreciated.
I'm just quoting this so it is sure to be read by everyone. Spot. On. I can't thank you enough for this comment Sifu. I swear you made my eyes leak.
 

Glenn

Corporate Supporter
Staff member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
708
Location
Denver
Curiosity, in reference to the statement, "Better code-yes". When reviewing a deck submittal, all tributary loads, (floor, guardrail, handrail, decking and stairs), should be calculated to meet the standards per the IRC. All mechanical fasteners/ composite materials should be tested and approved with an ESRI- Report number or tested by an approved testing agency. Long winded question, but what recommendations would you suggest for a code change or additional codes? I agree with you, you can provide all the checklists, images and how to information, but it will only assist customers who are willing to use the information to build their deck.
Great day!
There is so much missing in code for decks, but first people have to realize it. My updated series of education does just that. I teach the code there is and I teach about what's missing. Lateral bracing is a big one. Ain't no braced walls in decks. Decks follow no standardized construction method. (platform, balloon, etc) We've been and continue to build them as a best guess. Even the code is a best guess. Look at the 1500 lateral load anchor detail. We don't even know what load that's supposed to be resisting. That's video 7 and 8 in Ledgers and Lateral Loads.

I've got three 2021 IRC Deck Code Live Webinars scheduled for March that will surprise everyone.

I'm proud that the Deck Superstore, a deck lumberyard in Colorado, has sponsored the first one for their deck contractor customers. The BuildingCodeCollege.com Sponsored Webinar program simply means the sponsor supports free education (no sales or marketing stuff). Starting at only $450 for a coupon code the sponsor distributes to 100 people for free attendance to a $23, 90-minute webinar.

A lumberyard supporting code education. I cried a little at the beauty of that.

Does your ICC chapter support code education like this deck lumber yard does? It should. Sponsor a webinar for your community and make code education viral. I bet your citizens and contractors would appreciate learning with the inspectors.

www.buildingcodecollege.com/webinars
 

Sifu

Sawhorse
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,559
Curiosity, in reference to the statement, "Better code-yes". When reviewing a deck submittal, all tributary loads, (floor, guardrail, handrail, decking and stairs), should be calculated to meet the standards per the IRC. All mechanical fasteners/ composite materials should be tested and approved with an ESRI- Report number or tested by an approved testing agency. Long winded question, but what recommendations would you suggest for a code change or additional codes? I agree with you, you can provide all the checklists, images and how to information, but it will only assist customers who are willing to use the information to build their deck.
Great day!
Code has gotten better but some of it still needs work. For example, the footings tables only tell part of the story. Those table appear to be based on a minimum thickness footing without credit for side shear. They address the parts of the country that do it that way, but not the parts that use caissons. I will admit, I came from areas that didn't use caissons, and maybe there aren't enough that do to justify another table. (if not it should be a priority to amend the code locally). Glen highlights another issue; the ledgers. And don't even start me on lateral bracing. The restrictions for "prescriptive" design need work as well, as Clint said "A man's got to know his limitations". And don't forget about projections...........The IRC is supposed to be a book to help build a structure without an engineer, which means by nature it is more educational than the IBC. So maybe we need to speak to the deck audience which are primarily the homeowners and chuck-in-truck builders. Neither are going away, so lets make life easier for all of us.

I am ALMOST NEVER a proponent of adding to the code, we have too much already, but in the last ten years I might have reviewed or inspected 1 or 2 steel stud framed residential structures, but hundreds if not thousands of wood frame decks. Lets focus on the things that matter.

Oh, and just in case I haven't offended enough people, please PLEASE PLEASE big box stores, either get a program that will spit out some semblance of a good deck design, or hire someone who can...and stop presenting the customer with the idea that they have a plan that meets code. At least put Glens book on the shelf!
 

Mark K

Platinum Member
Joined
May 12, 2010
Messages
1,856
This helps make it clear that there are limits on what a prescriptive code can address. Prescriptive provisions work best when they are applied to a very simple situation. If complex variations are expected then prescriptive provisions are not appropriate

A statement was made that "The IRC is supposed to be a book to help build a structure without an engineer," The problem with this statement is that the building code does not have the authority to define when a licensed engineer is or is not required. That decision is defined by state licensing laws. So even if the IRC provides a prescriptive solution an licensed engineer may need to be involved if required by state licensing laws.
 

Sifu

Sawhorse
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,559
The code stipulates that the requirement for an engineer is subject to local laws, but that doesn't take away from the over-all intent of the book, IMHO.
 
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