Blog - Deck safety: What you need to know

Australians love the outdoors. And when it’s time to celebrate, what better way to entertain our guests than on our backyard verandah. During the holiday season, many are preoccupied with organising festivities concentrated on one focal night. But for most, giving thought to a deck’s safety is the last thing in mind.

The dangers of deck collapse resulting in serious injury (or worse) shouldn't be ignored.

A lack of knowledge in this area will not prevent the occurrence of an accident due to overload. Thus, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to inform themselves about the structures safety.

Homeowners are often unaware of the warning signs that their deck is in disrepair. Admittedly, it is easy to assume that the structure is in good condition, since the deck has in service for many years, thus there seems to be no reason to question its integrity now. However this line of reasoning can be deceiving.

Assessing your deck safety.

A recent warning from the building commission in Victoria draws attention to the importance of assessing decks as part of a home owners responsibility It notes that materials, especially timber, deteriorate over time, thus compromising the structures safety. The media release follows a recent collapse of a deck in Sydney during a family dinner, where 10 people fell over 6 metres. Some needed hospitalisation. This report highlights that increased loads during gatherings of this nature, increase the likelihood of structural failure if the structure is in poor shape. In response to this guidance publication the West Australian Government has produced a similar document.

Deck failure also occurs because many are not engineered prior to construction. Homeowners do sometimes engage a builder to construct their deck without the design of an engineer. However there is no assurance that the deck complies with Australian Standards. Some builders may not be aware that the load rating for a deck is higher than internal areas in a house, thus requiring heavy duty type construction. Some home owners apply for a retrospective structural certification. However this might not be in their best interests.  Please read our blog on retrospective certification.

We take matters of safety very seriously. We specialise in identifying weaknesses in a structure and specify methods to repair or strengthen structures, such as decks, to enable them to continue their use as an essential part of our day to day life and even festivities. Please contact us if you have any concerns about your deck or would like us to engineer a new and reliable deck that is safe and complies with Australian Standards.

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