By now many people have read the story of a deck collapse in a vacation rental in Georgia…9 people were injured, including several senior citizens. Fortunately no one died.
The pictures of the “accident” show a typical deck collapse scene, the rotted wood at the house to deck connection, the furniture and deck spilled all over the ground, rescue crews giving first aid and transporting victims to the hospital.
As a professional performing deck inspections I can say that I see this typical scene over and over, particularly on single family homes and it seems, very often that they are on rental properties. After viewing this picture above I tweeted out to Airbnb and VRBO that they could help lead the drive to deck safety by requiring owners to have professional inspections signed off before they can rent the property and let people use the deck. Very often on rental properties there are a number of people visiting having a party on the deck and then they go over to the edge of the railing where the view is to have a picture taken of the group and that’s when the decks framing becomes overloaded and the deck crashes to the ground.
Influential and powerful companies like VRBO and Airbnb have the ability to drive owners to have inspections performed on the deck. Insurance companies can also start requiring inspections of decks before they insure a property.
As a professional inspector whenever I am at a party or someone’s house with a deck on it I will walk underneath the deck and take a look at the connections between the house and the deck, the framing the posts etc., to make sure that I am not going to be the victim if the deck comes down. That may make me sound like a Debbie Downer but I’ve seen the results of too many deck collapses hospitalizations, death, long-term injury. The Berkeley deck collapse should have been a wake-up call Nationwide but we just ended up going back to the usual and typical shrugging and saying not much we can do…
Well there are things we can do, we can require inspections on vacation rentals where it’s likely that large groups of people will gather in the deck. We can stop or severely reduce deck collapses by requiring owners to have their decks inspected yearly. A typical deck inspection might run $250 to $350…
To paraphrase Rage Against the Machine, “It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime
What better place than here, what better time than now?” It’s time to start fixing this preventable problem.