Dodgy Decks

The term “Dodgy Decks” is often taken a bit flippantly, but make no mistake, a poorly constructed or badly weathered deck can have deadly consequences. You may recall recent news reports of serious injuries and fatalities in the Hervey Bay area resulting from collapsing residential decks.

Residential timber decks are built for normal domestic use and can fail due to a number of causes such as poor construction, over-loading, and deterioration due to weathering.

They should be inspected by a competent and licensed person every 12 months to check for signs of deterioration. They must be kept well sealed and ventilated to help prevent deterioration.

If you are considering a large gathering on the deck, you are advised to have a structural engineer inspect and advise of the safe loading capacity of the deck.

It is not just weathering that can cause a deck to collapse. Poor construction methods have been the cause of serious failures in the past, and often these two causes are waiting for an event such as a few extra people on the deck to set off the time bomb.clip_image002[4]

The deck supports to this Bundaberg house are obviously “dodgy” to even the untrained eye, however most problems with decks are not so obvious and this is why they require careful scrutiny by an experienced professional.

The Building Services Authority recommends that all structural framing members and their connections and support points below the floor level of decks and balconies should be unenclosed and not sheeted, to allow full visual inspection.

If these areas must be enclosed and not visible for inspection then the framing and connections should be sufficiently durable to accommodate periodic wetting and drying, and all penetrations from the deck framing and fixings to the house walls should be flashed and sealed with permanent durable materials.clip_image003

In the case of one of the recently published Hervey Bay failures, water penetration to the wall was one of the causes of the collapse. Rain water had been entering the wall cladding penetrations and rotted the house wall framing, which then caused the deck to collapse similar to the one shown in the photo above.

If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other building matter, you can call Chris at BPI Building and Pest Inspections on 1800 663 390 visit or email us on