While I agree that deck inspections are needed desperately on nearly all decks, I don’t agree that a design professional is always the best person to be inspecting decks. In my experience, many design professionals are the ones who caused a problem via a poor design or a compromise in the design. After all, it was a “design pro” who seemed to have left out critical details on the balcony in Berkeley, Calif., that rotted and collapsed last year.

I often see cases where homes near the water have height restrictions to minimize blocking of views, while the owners want 10-foot-high ceilings and a cantilevered view balcony. In order to fit in both requirements, the design pro specifies 2x8 joists on his second-floor deck instead of 2x10s or ideally 2x12s, even though the balcony could be larger and far sturdier with 2x12 framing.

I’d rather have someone with real-world experience in the field, seeing what works and what doesn’t and where decks rot and typically leak, than a design pro. Decks, like all other building components, must be designed, assembled, inspected, and maintained. The thing we all forget as pros, though, is that even though we know decks need to be inspected and maintained, the user doesn’t. Now, how do we get that message out?

Bill Leys
(from online comments)