If you’re thinking about buying a home in Lakewood or Long Beach that has a deck, it’s a good idea to give it a once-over (or a twice-over) before you make an offer.
Here’s what to look for.
3 Signs a Deck is Failing
While a home with a deck is usually great for outdoor entertaining, you have to think about safety and functionality first. Take a walk around the deck and keep your eye out for:
- Signs of rot, mold or pests
- Splintering or cracked wood
- Loose connections between the house and the deck or between the deck and its railings
When a Deck Has Rot, Mold or Pests
When a deck is rotting away, even if it’s just a small part, or when it’s growing mold or harboring pests, you may need to negotiate with the seller to remove it or pay for repairs.
Wood rot can spread quickly, and it’s especially prevalent where the deck touches the ground. Look for pieces of wood splintering off and discolored areas; those are two giveaways that the wood might not hold up much longer.
Mold on wood is dangerous. It can make the deck slippery, and it hurries the wood’s rate of decay. You can usually tell when wood is moldy; it has a fuzzy appearance. If you see mushrooms growing, that’s another sign that something’s fundamentally wrong with the deck.
Pests can burrow and bore their way through the wood and make the entire deck unusable. If there’s enough damage, the deck could even collapse.
When a Deck Has Splintering or Cracked Wood
A deck with splintering wood could be rotting, but if it doesn’t look rotted, things might be fine. However, look for cracks; most small cracks are okay, although they’ll grow over time. It’s the big cracks – and those around fasteners – that you need to watch for.
When wood cracks around fasteners, that means it’s weakened – and it could be dangerous.
When Decks Have Loose Connections
Decks are connected to houses through lanyards. If the fasteners aren’t strong enough and the deck pulls away from the house, you’ll notice it swaying when you step on it. The lanyard can be a portal for pests to enter the house, too; most home construction materials aren’t treated for pests like decking materials are, so bugs can get into the home through a loosened lanyard.
If a deck’s railing is loose – or it the stair railing leading to the deck is loose – you could be looking at a code violation that poses a huge safety hazard.
Ask your home inspector to take a close look at the deck if you decide to move forward with an offer on a home with a deck. That way, you’ll be able to get an accurate picture of the deck’s issues and use them to negotiate with the home’s seller.
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