Building inspection process for a deck?

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Old 07-04-16, 08:45 PM
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Building inspection process for a deck?

Hello all, I am in the final stages of designing a deck for my house using the IRC 2012 guide (some changes to 2015 IRC), and am about to submit for permits. This is the first time I have had to deal with a building inspector and permitting process so I am unsure how in depth I should be taking this. I have designed it adhering to code thus far, however I am now seeing areas were the code is a inconvenience. My thoughts are that I may be overestimating the level of scrutiny the inspector with apply, and how much leniency they give to slight inconsistencies. I am in New Jersey, and my district has adopted the 2015 IRC code. I feel as if when I am looking through pictures of decks online, I see so many code violations that would make my life so much easier. Such as...

-After looking through many documents, it appears you are quite limited in the amount of step down you can get from the door to the deck. When adhering to the allowable ledger bolt patterns and the band joist bolts, without completely changing the size of your joists, you are stuck with practically no step down. I am using 2x10 joists for the deck, and house band joist is 2x10, which by code would only allow a .75" step. That is not great for snow in New jersey. Check out link to confirm
2015 IRC Deck Ledger Bolt Placement | ProTradeCraft

-Another area where I wish I has some room was the footings 5ft from the foundation rule. Unless you intend on digging your deck footings to the elevation of your house footings (unrealistic), than you have to space the deck off further than 5ft. This confuses me as the none of the maximum allowable joist overhangs in the code can reach span that 5ft distance. In my case this is not critical, as I am right on the edge of 5ft, however if I could cheat a little I would. Do inspections measure from the footer to the house? Pier to the house? Post to the house? Or, are they quite strict about the footer to the house distance?

-Stairs landing on concrete pads. Code says stairs must land on an area with footings of proper size and below frost. I have seen countless pictures of stairs landing right on concrete slabs, sometimes, just concrete blocks. ?

-How does an inspector, inspect your ledger attachments if he/she cannot access your interior band joist? Obviously, an owner w cannot demolish the floor to access the band joist? How does he very you are attaching the ledger to the right spots on the band joist (edge distances, no drill, no pass zones, esc)?

Thank you guys, I really need some advice here
 
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Old 07-05-16, 04:56 AM
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That's an awful lot of questions for one post. I suggest you post your questions to your inspectors. Each seems to interpret the codes slightly differently. They will be able to tell you what they want to see in order to pass your project. My Inspections Dept. even has a sheet pre-printed for decks that covers the most common trouble areas and following their guidelines makes it easy to pass the inspections.
 
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Old 07-05-16, 07:22 AM
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Inspections are based upon LOCAL code. Since model codes have no power of enforcement it is only after a local, regional or state legislative body enacts a model code into law that it gains enforcement power. The main thing to remember about ALL codes is that the enabling legislation has the power to add to or delete from the model code. This is why ONLY local code matters.
 
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Old 07-05-16, 07:40 AM
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Not sure how other locales do it but locally a deck only gets 2 inspections [assuming it passes] The 1st is a site inspection [prior to build] and the other is the final inspection.

Some permit offices have pamphlets that go over their approved deck construction methods. The folks at the permit office may or may not have a lot of knowledge but if you can arrange to meet with the [or one of] inspector you'd likely get your answers.
 
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Old 07-05-16, 10:15 PM
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Thank you guys, I am headed to the municipal complex tomorrow to inquire further. My township requires 3 separate inspections, footings, after framing, and final, and has adopted IRC 2015 codes. I will see if they have a package specific to deck codes that may be specific to my township. I guess my specific questions were all in effort to get at the same question. How strict are building inspectors when it comes to decks? Should I prepare for someone walking around with a micrometer and the IRC code book (joking), or someone doing a general visual based on their knowledge in memory? I feel that the answer I will receive from the permit department is, "follow the code, word for word", however I know based on reading codes that many do not follow it word for word. Thanks again
 
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Old 07-06-16, 03:49 AM
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How strict are building inspectors when it comes to decks?
It depends on the inspector, some are lenient, some are not but most of them will work with you if you have a decent attitude.
 
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Old 07-06-16, 05:06 AM
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Inspectors and the codes have gotten much more serious about decks in recent years. The news clips showing decks full of people collapsing to the ground is the reason. I've noticed they have gotten particularly strict regarding how the deck attaches to the house. Specifically looking for how the ledger board is attached and that it has the proper bolts and bolt spacing. Another strict area are the baluster gaps and riser area of the steps to make sure no child can get their head through.
 
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Old 07-06-16, 12:39 PM
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So, I just got back from the municipal complex and now I am really confused. I have been sifting through these IRC codes for a week, and now the deck package that the township gave me had only 2 pages of building codes. No mention of footer spacing off the house foundation, no details on ledger attachment aside from 2" from top/bottom and 2-5" from ends on the deck ledger, no footer codes aside from frost and minimum of 12". I cant imagine these 2 pages being the only codes that are enforced, as New Jersey is pretty strict on practically everything. I'm gonna call to get some clarification, but I was surprised to see how minimal the code sheets were.
 
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Old 07-06-16, 03:59 PM
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My town has a legal sized sheet that they produced. They were so sick and tired of deck problems that they produced a sheet that really simplified and pointed out the problem areas for most folks.

In my area the footer away from the house is to avoid sinking the footer in the fill from when the house was built. They will allow footers close to the house but they will test the soil and quite often want its depth to be quite deep in order to get to virgin/hard soil.

Ledger attachment must have at least 1/2" hot dip galvanized bolts spaced no more than 24" apart. My inspectors really push for through bolts with nuts and do not like lag bolts.
 
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Old 07-06-16, 05:21 PM
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Typically, I would not consider the handouts from local jurisdictions all-inclusive, so don't consider the time that you spent researching the IRC as wasted. But, as mentioned, your local inspector will make the final call, so best to get it first hand before you start. Rather than a phone call, you might call the office and see when the inspector is in; often it's in the morning, 7:00'ish, but they are busy like the rest of us, so, to keep things on the right track, have your questions laid out ahead of time. Applying your research, use the terminology that applies, and keep it specific, but simple. Also check your local zoning ordinances for anything applicable to size, setback, etc., which may or may not include details specific to your neighborhood, subdivision, or whatever.
 
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