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Ask the Inspector: Exterior Structures

Question: Will you inspect decks during a general property inspection or are those considered accessory structures?

Answer: At Ease Building Inspections, we follow industry standards which include attached decks as well as attached garages, balconies, stoops, steps, porches and associated railings as part of the general property inspection. In the exterior inspection, we also inspect grading, surface drainage, walkways, driveways and patios leading to dwelling entrances, eaves, soffits, fascias, the exterior wall covering, flashing, trim and exterior doors, provided these things are safely accessible.

When inspecting exterior structures like decks, At Ease Building Inspections considers condition and safety. Alerting clients to possible safety issue can be especially important on move in day when the extra knowledge could prevent a fall. The visual inspection of a deck can include: supports, attachments, stairs, a floor, handrails, skirts, guardrails and spindles, among other things.

Although regulations for the height and width – or rise and run – of steps, change from place to place, the general goal is ease of use. To avoid tripping hazards, steps should be uniform and level. This is also true of the decking material. Warped boards or a settled porch can increase the chance for falls. Handrails are designed to provide support going up or down stairs. These should be easy to grab in a panic and securely attached. Guardrails keep people from falling off any type of landing, whether inside or outside. Again, the important thing to consider is the strength, condition and attachment of the guardrail. Spindles or balusters below the guard should be close enough together to prevent small children from falling through. This distance is should be no more than four inches (100 mm).

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC), falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. For more information on deck safety and a general property inspection, call your local At Ease Building Inspector.

The Inspector