Mild year-round temperatures and backyard gatherings on outdoor decks are common throughout the city, however, it’s estimated that about half the decks are not safe and in need of some type of repair. The average life expectancy of a wooden deck is 10-15 years. Poor construction and maintenance result in deck collapses that cause thousands of injuries across the U.S. each year.
If you are building a deck or have an existing deck, you should know how to evaluate its construction to make sure it's structurally safe and sound.
To be sure that your deck is safe, following the five warning signs:
1. Check your deck for loose connections, corrosion or cracks
2. Ensure that your deck can carry the weight of objects and people placed on it, including the force of Mother Nature
3. Create a path of connections that transfers load through its frame to the ground and support structures, such as your home. A deck with a continuous load path will be better equipped to resist the forces that can weaken your deck.
4. Check for corrosion of metal connectors, screws and nails
5. Regular maintenance and inspection for loose nails and boards, and protection from debris and water and sun damage
The City of Austin only inspects decks with active permits. If your deck was previously permitted, and you suspect it is in need of an inspection, you may have your deck inspected by a third-party inspector.
For information on architects licensed to practice in the State of Texas, please refer to the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners at: http://www.tbae.state.tx.us/