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Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.

 
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:45 AM   #1
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Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Hello, I just joined the forum. I just got my license, and have a few questions. I am working on a freestanding deck design for a neighbor, and would like to get some advice. I live in SE Michigan, frostline is 42".

The deck is about 4' above grade. It is an add-on to an existing deck. It is to go around one end of a small above-ground pool. The distance across the half circle is about 12'. I have already verified spans and all that. The deck will be about 19' by 15 1/2', with a half circle cut-out on one of the 19' sides. I am building it for a 50psf live and dead load combined. 2x8 joists 16"oc. Double 2x10 beams with 4x4 posts (10 posts total).

Questions:

1. The homeowner does not wish to get permits, this alone worries me. Should I just not do the job? He is a good guy, and I am not worried about him burning me, but permits are required.

2. The posts: I was thinking of either setting them on a concrete footing below the frost line, or using form tubes, and standoff post bases. Local building codes prohibit encasing posts in concrete. Even if the customer doesn't want permits, I still believe minimum code should be followed or exceeded. Can you guys suggest something on how to set my posts so they are strong enough for the freestanding structure? The code book doesn't have much that I could find on the subject.

I designed the whole thing on sketchup 8, I wish I knew how to post the pic here so ya'll can review it.

3. PT wood is always soaking wet it seems. I am trying to match an existing floor height, will the wood contract, and give me an ugly transition? I am worried about this. I want this job to be totally perfect.

4. Existing rail looks like 2x balusters sandwiched by 1x4's on bottom and top, 1x6 on top rail I think. Also, the 4x4 rail posts extend about 6" beyond the top rail. I have to match this with my rails, and I don't really like this design much. It gives great places for bees nests (right by a pool, fantastic!), and just doesn't seem too strong. How should I fasten this railing system to get maximum strength? I am a new contractor, and I really don't know alot of the products out there yet.

Anyways, I would really appreciate some advice here. I just want every job I do to be built strong. I don't want callbacks. I don't want to learn the hard way either. Proper planning... Thanx in advance for any advice. Peace.
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:58 AM   #2
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Here is a shot of the frame. Hope this helps. Don't be too hard on me if it is wrong, I am here for advice.
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Deck Advice Please...  New contractor.-deckfordan2frame.jpg   Deck Advice Please...  New contractor.-deckfordan2frame2.jpg  

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Old 05-19-2011, 06:29 AM   #3
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Anyways, I would really appreciate some advice here. I just want every job I do to be built strong. I don't want callbacks. I don't want to learn the hard way either.

Then start learning the right way... and if you just got your license, try to keep it for at least few jobs... because with the way you think, you will be going backwards not forward.

If you know you need a permit, why would you even ask what you should do... Only one thing you can do, is apply for it and don't expect anyone here tell you any different.

1. He is a good guy, and I am not worried about him burning me, but permits are required.

Get this mentality out of your head if you want to be in business working on projects, instead of spending time in court as a defendant.

As nice people go... Nice people turn out to be not so nice, when something happens or someone gets hurt. not to mention the fact that if the guy don't pay you when the job is done, there is nothing you can do about it, because you working without permits.

2. Local building codes prohibit encasing posts in concrete. Even if the customer doesn't want permits.

Why would you even consider as an option if code prohibits.

-------------------------

Deck looks beautiful... now all you have to do is submit to get it approved and get your building permit.

Good luck
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Old 05-19-2011, 06:50 AM   #4
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by greg24k View Post
2. Local building codes prohibit encasing posts in concrete. Even if the customer doesn't want permits.

Why would you even consider as an option if code prohibits.

Perhaps you misunderstood. I do not have any intention of encasing posts in concrete. I said setting them on a footing below frostline, or form tubes and standoff post bases. Perhaps I typed wrong or explained poorly.

I will take your advice and not do the job without a permit. I know better, you are right.

So I can just apply for the permit without the homeowners' consent? That would be awkward. Nevemind then, I will just tell the dude if he doesn't want permits to hire someone else. Why would he not want permits? It protects him. Oh well.

But the frame design was ok? I just want to know if it looks good, or you were being sarcastic. It is difficult to assume tone or emotion with only text to look at. Thanx for knocking some sense into me. Peace.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:19 AM   #5
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Dittos with Greg - as for your questions & the pic
Beams pictured are not allowed by codes in some areas, but are fine
Posts - 10 or 12" sonotubes & post base anchors is my preferred system - if you do go with the ground method, make sure they are ground rated (i.e. more preservative)
Bees nest & any structure go hand in hand - that is a HO issue, is the real issue on how to make them?
Attachment - hangers and screws / nails
PT would does contract big time when it dries out, but for your 4x4 post it should be minimal - the decking boards on the other hand will open up a gap of a 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch easy. That is one reason why you must protect the wood & keep it all at the same moisture content (i.e. wrap in plastic when leaving for the night - don't leave it exposed in direct sun, etc...)
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:42 AM   #6
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


If you are working with PT wood, you need to set the HOs expectation from the outset that it WILL spilt, warp and cup and it's beyond your control.

People don't know or understand this, so you will get call backs if you are trying to be "perfect" with PT. You really can't.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:03 AM   #7
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


you've already got the drawing part handled which is the most laborious part of getting permits... if you really want to do the job, why dont you offer to pull and pay for the permits. fees for that type of structure are minimal.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:05 AM   #8
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


You sound like your on the right track

Definitely get a permit.... No question. It's just better to be legal. In addition, in many towns around me the BI will stand behind you in court in case of non payment or other HO shenanigans.

I generally up size my joists and use either 4x6 or 6x6 posts.

Be aware of codes around pools..... 4' barriers and locked gates with access at least 54" off the deck.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:26 AM   #9
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Di View Post
If you are working with PT wood, you need to set the HOs expectation from the outset that it WILL spilt, warp and cup and it's beyond your control.

People don't know or understand this, so you will get call backs if you are trying to be "perfect" with PT. You really can't.
My dad has two levels of PT deck that is about 18 yrs old, and it looks pretty darn good for the age. All the floor boards are straight and true except one, and it curled just a bit. The 2x6 on the top of the guard rail warped a bit, but it was nailed, not screwed. 18 years, replaced one floor board, and some 2x6 on the railing. But it was maintained properly the whole time.

The customer that this whole post was about does not have the budget for cedar or composite. It is possible to build a beautiful deck out of PT (in my very humble opinion). It does have to be maintained, and this may be the reason PT would rot early Poor maintenance causes many problems in homes from the ground up.

I also built a dock out of PT up north about 4 years ago, and it looks darn good and level still. The boards shrank to reveal about 1/4-3/8" spaces between them. This is fine, it is a dock, and needs some drainage. There are no warped boards at all on the dock. 8'x10' 2x6 joists 16 o.c. screwed and bolted.

You are obviously very experienced. I will always remind any future customers about the pitfalls of PT. I just think many people would not want to spend the money for better materials, and they have to own that decision. An excellent idea to educate the customers about it.

Of course, a better product is ideal. You get what you pay for. But you make it sound as if the deck will be complete garbage if built out of PT lumber. Don't they have PT that is kiln dried after the PT process? Is this any better than the wet-when-u-get-it PT? I appreciate your input on the matter. That is why I came here, to learn from those who know more than I do. Peace.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:38 AM   #10
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
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You sound like your on the right track

Definitely get a permit.... No question. It's just better to be legal. In addition, in many towns around me the BI will stand behind you in court in case of non payment or other HO shenanigans.

I generally up size my joists and use either 4x6 or 6x6 posts.

Be aware of codes around pools..... 4' barriers and locked gates with access at least 54" off the deck.
I read up on the Michigan code already on this. A self closing gate with a latch on the pool side, etc. Very specific on the latch. Must be no holes bigger than 1/2" within 18" of the latch, etc. An audible alarm for the sliding door leading to the deck. Typical guard rail, 36" high (because it's above grade, on grade 4' like you said), can not pass a 4" sphere through any part of the railing.

I came up with 2x8 for floor joists by checking the span tables and exceeding minimum code. 2x10 beams I was thinking of upsizing to 2x12. Also, it doesn't show in the drawings, but I was going to brace the beams to the posts as well. I don't know the terminology, but a 45 degree angle brace connecting post and beams. Is this a good idea? I think it is for sure, I just didn't draw it on the plan. I can add it.

But the HO "doesn't want the government in his business", and I probably won't end up doing it anyways. But I still like discussing the "how" just to learn from others. Peace.

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:53 AM   #11
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


If you're just starting out, you probably don't know how to asses a customer as good or bad. It's one of the toughest things to learn.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:54 AM   #12
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


since you're building this deck around a pool, you might consider stacking a solid beam on top of your posts as opposed to "sandwiching" 2x's. You will have excess moisture on that structure and that type of construction will be prone to rot. I would also recommend stainless connectors
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:07 AM   #13
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beanfacekilla View Post
Perhaps you misunderstood. I do not have any intention of encasing posts in concrete. I said setting them on a footing below frostline, or form tubes and standoff post bases. Perhaps I typed wrong or explained poorly.

I will take your advice and not do the job without a permit. I know better, you are right.

So I can just apply for the permit without the homeowners' consent? That would be awkward. Nevemind then, I will just tell the dude if he doesn't want permits to hire someone else. Why would he not want permits? It protects him. Oh well.

But the frame design was ok? I just want to know if it looks good, or you were being sarcastic. It is difficult to assume tone or emotion with only text to look at. Thanx for knocking some sense into me. Peace.
Tell him the HO you're a professional licensed contractor, and this work requires a building permit and aprovals... and that you cannot risk to lose your license, because that your bread and butter and you cannot work without it.

As the deck goes, you did a good job with Sketchup, I didn't pay much attention to the detail, but it looks good, as long as it meets local code and all requirements being next to the pool, submit and see what the building inspector say, if they kick it back, you just make the corrections.

Good luck.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:07 AM   #14
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by parkers5150 View Post
since you're building this deck around a pool, you might consider stacking a solid beam on top of your posts as opposed to "sandwiching" 2x's. You will have excess moisture on that structure and that type of construction will be prone to rot. I would also recommend stainless connectors
Good advice. Do you mean something like strong tie column caps(is that what they are called?)? One solid beam? Can't you just use 2 2x10's laminated with a piece of 1/2" (or just 1/2" spacers) in between to make beams? I was going to put cripple blocks under the beams as well, but they weren't in the drawing. But I guess one more place to collect water then.

Thanks for the advice. Peace.
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:13 AM   #15
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


It just occurred to me, the pool was put in about two years ago at the HO's house. He probably didn't pull permits for that. This is likely the reason he does not want permits. He won't agree to permits if that is the case. I have to submit a plot plan with the new structure on it to get the permits. I will likely look at the plan and not see a pool on it... Then they will fine the HO for not getting pool permit, and make him get one after the fine. And an udated plot plan will have to be submitted with the pool on it, someone will have to do that as well. I can see where this could lead. I wasted like 4 hours drawing it up on sketchup. Oh well. Peace.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:27 PM   #16
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


Quote:
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My dad has two levels of PT deck that is about 18 yrs old, and it looks pretty darn good for the age. All the floor boards are straight and true except one, and it curled just a bit. The 2x6 on the top of the guard rail warped a bit, but it was nailed, not screwed. 18 years, replaced one floor board, and some 2x6 on the railing. But it was maintained properly the whole time.
The SYP of 18 years ago and the new growth crap you get today aren't even comparable.

I would rather salvage some of the 20 year old CCA lumber we are demoing these days and reuse it rather than deal with the new lumber being sold now. It's THAT bad.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:48 PM   #17
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


I could not agree more.

The mcq ground contact lumber we have to work with over here is .20 something. Hardley a confort zone. Copper Naphthenate retreating is a must on Anything close to the ground. The latest FHB mag article Mr. Katwijk's heated manmade project lists him retreating the cut ends on the zillion blocks needed. Its really a sad coment on the business.

I never did see anything new on the conflict between acq and mcq,it probley came out the same. Money. Who gives a flip about the Customer or the Contractor.

Jon Mon www.deckmastersllc.com

Side Note>> We are completing a major repair on a poorly framed acq deck the material itself is doing fine it was the " contractor " foolish atempt requiring the work. Anyway with no creet at all the posts were planted in the dirt and on it. 6 year old project with 0 anything at all going on with the framing members about the same I would expect with cca. On the other hand my tests with mcq in the ground 2x4s also around 6 years old are showing signs of grain receding about 3/4'' and very soft to the core. gota love it.

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:26 PM   #18
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


I don't know why people are so afraid of permits. It's such a small cost up here, and why would a homeowner want to expose themselves to that liability?

Now - I know a fencing/decking contractor who will not do jobs with permits - he sticks to fences, and decks under 24" that do not require permits - just because of the risk to scheduling.

But why a HO would care about that is puzzling. I've never had a homeowner look puzzled when I explain to them that a permit is just a good idea, let alone a legal requirement.

As to PT - I built one PT deck last year and still regret it. It just looks like butt. I had to replace a bunch of ballusters 1 month after because of splitting. I basically tell folks I won't build a deck with any finished materials being PT.

Good luck!
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:18 PM   #19
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


I dont understand the permit thing either.

Really its not the Contractor's business to worry about some out law pool thing that's the Wallet's look out and his business.

The Contractor just bids the damm thing the way He sees fit plain and simple.

J.
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:38 PM   #20
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Re: Deck Advice Please... New Contractor.


I don't know the permit process in the OP's area, or anyone elses for that matter, but in CA, it is no cakewalk.

Years ago, there was a tax bill passed that essentially froze the property values for tax purposes. If you pull a permit, they can reasses your property value.

Engineering is becoming standard for even the simplest projects. The building departments want a signature between them and the customers.

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