Oops!!!! The City called around yesterday .... I'm in trouble I think.

Reply

  #1  
Old 10-08-13, 07:21 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Oops!!!! The City called around yesterday .... I'm in trouble I think.

Hi all,

it looks like I am about to fall foul of my own stupidity.

I bought our house four years ago, and the three part existing deck turned out to be completely rotten - we had a carpenter ant infestation because of it. So, I ripped it all out.

From my neck of the woods (Scotland) if you are building onto an existing foundation, no building warrant is required. It is also the case that any plans, additions, etc. are kept on record with the original house plans - forever. Not so in Michigan - they only keep stuff for 15 years, and the City can't even tell me if the original deck had a warrant. (is that not a crazy short period of time in property terms????)

Anyway, I had decided to press on with my, in my mind, deck repair. The existing concrete posts were low to the ground, and the timber was simply sitting on them. The first section of deck is scraping the ground.

The concrete posts were not in a true line, so in a couple of places, the timber does not land on the center of the post. For the second section, the concrete was cracked/broken, so I put four new posts in.

Anyway, to get to the point, my apple tree was laden this year, and two large limbs snapped off. I have two young children, and the tree had to be removed as it was in a dangerous condition. My neighbor blew a gasket - apparently MY tree offered her some privacy. Guess what - she called the city and complained, and told them the deck was an eyesore (???) They came around yesterday and told me I needed to stop work until I get a warrant.

I am really concerned that the original footings will fail, and screw up everything. I wasn't too concerned about safety on such a low deck, and did somewhat over engineer the timber construction.

Any thoughts on how this might all turn out? Are the original footings non complying? Here are some pics, including the original mess.

Thanks very much in advance for any replies.

Hugh

(oh, there is a pic showing beams BEFORE being bolted together. The screws are temporary)
 
Attached Images      
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 10-08-13, 07:46 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 20,759
Received 184 Votes on 171 Posts
I'm afraid they will view it as new construction or a major repair. In either case requiring permits and that it all be done to current building codes.

I certainly would play nice with the Inspections Dept. Try to find when the inspectors are in the office and go down and talk to them. Explain the situation and let them hear your accent. If they learn you are an OK guy and trying to do a proper job and not slip things by they may end up being helpful.

Deck situations like yours are so common my Inspections Dept has a sheet already printed out specifying what they want to see; footings, railings, flashing at the house... It looks like you are not skimping so you might only have some minor details that need changing.

In my area (NC), if they deem it to be new construction and not a repair, it would also require a zoning permit. That's a separate dept. and in addition to paying another fee they want the property drawn out showing the structure and how far it is from the property lines.
 
  #3  
Old 10-08-13, 08:00 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hi,

thanks for the reply.

I didn't flash the ledger - I did look at the requirements and never saw that listed. Must have completely missed it. Not sure if it makes a difference (probably not) but the house has an overhang of a couple of feet above the door wall to the deck.

I know this is not the way to go, but worst case scenario - will the force removal if the existing oats don't comply? I am worried that the beams simply lay on then, there was no way install hardware without raising the deck too high.

Hugh
 
  #4  
Old 10-08-13, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Codes requirements are up to the city and they can over-ride any national/model code or industry standards/suggestions based on local performance and conditions as long as they do not relax the minimums in the models.

The city also has jurisdiction to determine the difference between maintenance, repairs or new construction. Because of that, get to know the people that administer things to show you want to do it right. After all, the code are to protect you from yourself and to prevent the next owner from buying something that may not be safe and sound.

I agree with Pilot Dane about you project being new construction (what is being saved/reused?).

There are two areas that are common critical items for decks, beyond safety. - They are any ledger attached decks because of the rapid rot and very often a screw attached deck (no through bolted). A second major factor is the low height and lack of air circulation that probably caused the original damage/failure.

Going through a brick veneer is very difficult to do without special hardware to provide vertical load strength because a long bolt will flex in the brick with a hole drilled in it, plus brick veneer is not always necessarily loadbearing.

Dick
 
  #5  
Old 10-08-13, 08:57 AM
BridgeMan45's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
First things first--I suggest you don't use the term "warrant" when talking to the building department people when you go down there to woo them with your lilting Scottish dialect. In this country, a warrant is a document issued before arresting someone and throwing them in jail; a building permit is what your code people will be asking you to obtain.

I don't suspect you'll be asked to completely remove the deck and start over, but it appears there are some issues that will require corrective work. In addition to the missing ledger flashing, your sonotube footings appear too small in diameter, and if they don't extend below your area's frost line, they may have to be supplemented with deeper (and larger diameter) ones.

In addition to working on the AHJ people, maybe you should bake a pie for the neighbor lady, in an effort to soften her up a bit and win her over.
 
  #6  
Old 10-08-13, 10:16 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Guys, thanks for the replies.

@ Concretemasonry I used expanding anchor bolts to secure the ledger to the brick. It seemed to be a very solid fixing, and I based it on the recommendations I found re codes. I hope that will do.


@BridgeMan45 New concrete would be a pain. I am assuming that the existing posts passed inspection to begin with - it's a shame there is absolutely no records kept beyond 15 years. maybe I should just build and stay here for at least 15 years???? :-)

As for the lady next door - arriving on my doorstep shouting at me in front of my young children, (with no right to complain about my tree removal) then calling deliberately making life more difficult for me - I'm afraid I have no desire to be her friend.

You know, they do cut their lawn at 8am on Sunday mornings, and wake me, but irritating as it is, I would like to think that I could talk to them in a decent, civil manner. Not charge over and start shouting. Oh well.

Hey, here is the tree - you can see why it went. Two broken limbs, and I considered it a danger to my girls.

Hugh
 
Attached Images  
  #7  
Old 10-08-13, 10:28 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 20,759
Received 184 Votes on 171 Posts
And that's why I live in the country. I can't see my neighbors and nobody complains when I'm sighting in a night vision scope at 11pm.

If & when you talk to the inspectors it might not hurt to bring photographs. Also knowing the details of what you've got might help:
maybe a sketch or drawing with some dimensions
a deck x long by y wide
deck is x high off the ground
new sonotube footer is x deep
2 by x pressure treated joists with joist hangers...

Basically I think it makes you appear better all round. Up front and organized.

Make sure you post back how things go.
 
  #8  
Old 10-08-13, 10:29 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
I used expanding anchor bolts to secure the ledger to the brick.
In the states the brick is usually what is called brick veneer. Just a single layer of brick tied to the wood framing every few feet by a thin metal strip nailed to the framing. The brick tie is just embedded in the mortar between the bricks. The brick is more decorative then structural. Doing home repairs I have often seen bricks just fall off when replacing trim because the mortar had long ago failed and brick was just barely held by trim.
 
  #9  
Old 10-08-13, 10:49 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Ah, I see with regard to the veneer.

Re the structure, I actually shot short video clips as I did the sonotube installation, and there is a pretty extensive photo record.

I will go cap in hand, and report back.

Thanks!!!!!
 
  #10  
Old 10-08-13, 11:41 AM
BridgeMan45's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If the old biddy continues to be obnoxious after you try to soften her up by bringing her the fresh, home-made pie, then it's time for Step 2 in the NTP (neighbour treatment plan)--buy 3 or 4 little piglets, and install their pen right at her property line. Ask her first what breed she prefers you buy, because you don't want to risk offending her any further, and explain that you're only doing it as a learning experience for your young children.
 
  #11  
Old 10-08-13, 12:27 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
lol, funny.

Well, you would assume it was an "old biddy" but she is in fact around 50.

I am a very reasonable guy - I have even made sure that my kids play things in the garden have been kept well away from the (open) boundary. Just a little courtesy on my part.

That's all gone. I will not try to be difficult, but at the same time, that sandbox I was thinking about building is now a go, along with the play house. May as well use my property to the fullest.

The folks on the other side summed it up with two words - "she's nuts!"

Have a great day, and I will report the results.
 
  #12  
Old 10-08-13, 01:59 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 20,759
Received 184 Votes on 171 Posts
You could get hot rod. Something with a V-8 and straight pipes. Then get in the habit of taking it out for midnight errands.
 
  #13  
Old 10-10-13, 11:00 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I will have to bite the bullet. :-(

Well, a trip to the local authority was less than happy. The guy behind the counter was a little condescending. And here is where I am at.

I have to submit plans, show the original footings, and go from there. That was no surprise.

Then he asked if I bolted the ledger to the brick - I confirmed that I did, with expanding bolts as shown on a Deck Construction Guide that seems to be all over the internet. He then said that such a fixing was no longer acceptable, and there would have to be new footings near the house.

On thinking about it, the original footings were not just at the front of the first section of the deck (12 feet out), they were also six feet out. So, the first section of deck is not just supported at the extremes, but in the center. Am I making sense?

I have fears of this thing growing arms and legs!

Hugh
 
  #14  
Old 10-10-13, 11:19 AM
BridgeMan45's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
In other words, the local building department does not want any deck ledger boards to be supported by or attached to veneer brick. That's understandable. But what about attaching it to the structural wall behind the brick? Will they not allow that as well? If that's the case, then you are stuck with building a free-standing deck, using a short cantilever between the house and the first support beam (on new footings below the frost line) a few feet away from the house's footings. A 6' cantilever (utilizing the first line of deck footings already in place) is not acceptable.
 
  #15  
Old 10-10-13, 11:29 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Can I put footings in at the house, and attach to those?

Damn, is this looking like pulling up the deck boards and re-engineering this whole thing? It's really annoying that the original rotting, crumbling and infested deck was acceptable enough to allow me to buy this house, and my deck is not.

I am fully expecting them to tell me that the existing footing will also not do. If that happens, it will be a straight choice of ripping it all out, or leaving it sitting there unapproved. Maybe they will force it's removal.

I think the fact that this deck pretty much sits on ground level makes it all the more frustrating. I need wine!

Hugh
 
  #16  
Old 10-10-13, 12:16 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Um, just read something about a permit not being required until a minimum height from ground to deck is reached. True????

Thanks.

Hugh
 
  #17  
Old 10-10-13, 12:41 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,799
Received 10 Votes on 8 Posts
What county you in? I have access to some codes...
 
  #18  
Old 10-10-13, 12:43 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I am in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Oakland County. :-)

Thank you!
 
  #19  
Old 10-10-13, 01:04 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,799
Received 10 Votes on 8 Posts
Could not find in e codes... I did find on your town site codes listed. ( Link below). I am sure there is a loop hole. I poked around some, but need to do the homework with the kids...

Be back later to look some more..

Building Division Forms, Bloomfield Township, Michigan (MI)
 
  #20  
Old 10-10-13, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
It sounds like a very common problem regarding codes and decks.

Just because it was still standing (sort of) does not mean it met a code because non may have been required 20 to 40 years ago. Based on that, it just following a mistake with same one when rebuilding.

The model codes are frequently added to to avoid the old practices that had shown problems (climate, soils, building practices). History has an advantage of showing what has not worked locally.

The attachment of a deck to brick veneer has been discouraged for years sine brick veneer is NOT loadbearing and cannot support much load reliably, especially with a lack of flashing(things need to work together). Many codes will only allow through bolting or an approve anchor to the structure of the home (not veneer ot siding). Most free standing decks have beams set off from a structure a foot or more and cantilever back toward the home without attaching to it.

A home inspection when you bought the home may have pointed out the problems with the deck, even if they tried to camouflage it.

Good luck with the new deck.

Dick
 
  #21  
Old 10-10-13, 02:14 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks lawrosa, and info is appreciated.

Concretemasonry - yea, I just checked the house survey - it noted that some staining should be done to maintain the timber. Really??? The damn thing was crumbling.

Anyone know how far I have to be off the house to be "free standing" lol.
 
  #22  
Old 10-12-13, 11:54 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is there a solution to the ledger?

So, based on the certainty that the local inspector comes along and tells me that my ledger will not do since it is bolted to the house - what is the solution? I am busy trying to figure out how this can be resolved, and it's escaping me.

Here is a view of stage one of the deck. There depth is 12 feet, and the double beam splitting down the middle is sitting on concrete posts, as is the front of course. How can this be modified to comply?

Thanks everyone! :-)

Hugh
 
Attached Images  
  #23  
Old 10-12-13, 12:18 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,799
Received 10 Votes on 8 Posts
You will need to find out how far from the house it has to be... Here in my town its 3 ft if its a free standing deck.
 
  #24  
Old 10-12-13, 02:27 PM
BridgeMan45's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Add a third line of beam, wherever your code people tell you they want it. Make sure to get it in writing, because they sound anal enough to make you re-do it if it's not exactly where they (thought they) wanted it to be.
 
  #25  
Old 10-12-13, 05:20 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Northern Minnesota
Posts: 1,620
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Deck or Patio?

Couldn't this be considered a patio rather than a deck seeing it is more or less sitting on the ground? I don't know but why even attach it to the house at all...it sure can't fall anywhere? Might just give some wiggle room with the folks at the office.

Well, you would assume it was an "old biddy" but she is in fact around 50.
There ya go right there....hot flashes! Stay away from this woman at all times, it won't get better for some time if ever.
 
  #26  
Old 10-15-13, 12:43 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hi Guys,

sorry for the delay in replying - been a busy few days.

Well, here is my problem. As far as I can figure out, to put down new concrete posts at the house end, I am going to have to remove a lot of the boards, then cut the joists away from the ledger, and a whole bunch of other modifications. The image below shows how I have laid the boards, and this means I wont be able to just pull up a few pieces of timber. What a pain.

I am also concerned that they may ask for bigger concrete posts. I used 8 inch forms, and 4x4 posts. The longest is 12 inches. I believe that this is acceptable, but have a fear that maybe more will be asked for. I made my four front posts the same as the original 8 that the first section of deck sits on.

I do not want to have anything that would be considered unsafe, and to that end I did not cut any corners, and maybe over-engineered a couple of things. I have no safety concerns with this project as it is currently.

But if I am being truthful, at this stage of the game I am trying to work out whether or not this can be fudged a little to avoid any trouble. For example:

Is it low enough to exempt it from a permit? That seems to be an option in some places. The deck is pretty much on the ground at the back end, and 21 inches to the top of the joists at the front end.

If I were to separate it from the house wall, does that change things? If so, how much separation is required, etc?

If I am going to have a problem with an application, is it worth just finishing this deck up without the paperwork, and hoping that it wont spiral into something more serious. (I know that may be against the grain for some of you guys)

Can I find a loophole, ANY loophole!!!???? :-)

Tearing my hair out over here. :-)

Thanks again for all of the replies.

Hugh
 
Attached Images  
  #27  
Old 10-15-13, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Everything in the photos looks pretty good. You will have to do it as prescribed by the local building officials. The 4" posts, if embedded in the 8" concrete are a little "iffy" even though they are short.

It is surprising that in your jurisdiction they do not have prescribed details and "canned" methods. Usually they are available for people to follow in advance because of the huge amount of odd deck designs popping up that could be big problems and liability.

As long as you are attaching it to the house, it becomes a part of the structure and could evolve into an addition even if it is only 12" above grade, but could be 10' above grade at the outer edge. That is one of the main reasons to build a "free-standing" deck that has beam 2' or 3' away from the house and cantilevers back toward the house, leaving a 3/8" to 1/2" gap.

Also, connecting to the house requires special details to eliminate the common water/moisture problems and the interior rot that reduces strength. This also increases the work and problems for the building code office and that is not good since a code office is not profit center for a municipality.

Once you are wandering from the requirements you are in the "system" and there will be no "loop-holes" because that creates more work and complication. That is the reason there are usually available standard prescriptive methods unless you hire an engineer to trump the local officials.

Dick
 
  #28  
Old 10-15-13, 03:20 PM
BridgeMan45's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,196
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hugh, there are lots of experts out there who can easily find you any number of loopholes for you to pursue--trouble is, they are lawyers, and usually command an hourly rate of $300 or so. The last one I used to write a nasty 2-page letter to help me (I foolishly thought) resolve a business dispute charged me $1000 plus expenses, so a bit more than $500 per page. If you're like most people, that option is out of the question.

If I was in your position, I would first make a serious effort to work more closely with the local building department. You should be asking them the questions you're asking us on this forum, as they are the only ones who can provide definitive answers. Then you should take the path they tell you, even if it means removing and replacing deck boards to install another row of footings (for supporting the additional beam line closer to the house).

In my opinion, the last thing you should be doing is trying to take short-cuts that may come back to cost you some serious $$$ when you need to sell the place. A smart home inspector will point out the ledger being anchored to brick veneer, which a savvy buyer will then use as a bargaining point to offer (significantly) less for the house than if the deck had been built code-compliant. If nothing else, you can chalk up the re-build as a good learning experience.
 
  #29  
Old 10-16-13, 08:38 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
@Concretemasonry

I am hoping the 4' posts will fly, but fear they might not. I wan't aware that the free standing could cantilever back to the house leaving only a small gap - I had thought there had to be a definitive gap of some feet. That's interesting. But then, as my joists are practically on the ground, I wont be able to get a beam under them. :-(

It is surprising to me that I can't go on the site of the building control office and find specification as to what is acceptable. I had worked from the only comprehensive deck building guide I could find online, and it seemed as though it was a generally accepted document. That document is HERE, and page 11 shows the ledger bolted to a concrete/masonry wall. Isn't that acceptable now?

@BridgeMan45

I think I may well take your advice and pose my questions to the local authority. I may as well try to meet this head on. :-)

I am going to call them tomorrow and ask where I can find info on how a deck should be constructed - I am interested to know where the will point me.



Gentleman, as always, a big thank you!!!!!

Hugh
 
  #30  
Old 10-17-13, 03:43 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 46,045
Received 118 Votes on 105 Posts
I think I may well take your advice and pose my questions to the local authority.
That is usually the best solution. Most inspectors are like the rest of us and appreciate honesty and willing to help you find a solution. Often they will bend the rules slightly to help you accomplish the job at hand. Having and following their input almost garuntees the job will pass inspection.
 
  #31  
Old 10-17-13, 10:54 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 84
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks guys, I will report back.

Hugh
 
  #32  
Old 10-17-13, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hugh -

The cantilevering distance from the beam back toward the house is usually controlled by then depth of the joists. Obviously, a deeper joist can cantilever further.

The question about attaching to brick veneer is definitely addressed in the next page(page 12) of the standard you referred to. The reason is because brick veneer in not always a load bearing member (even though the brick and mortar are very strong), but the longer unsupported bolts usually cannot carry enough vertical load. - That is the problem with "cook-book" prescription minimum code requirement or published suggested applications. Even national associations have to carry insurance are wary about suggesting standards that could be used blindly, but an engineer can almost always over-ride a industry standard by signing a drawing.

Dick
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description: