July 22, 2021

Homeowners Are Advised to Have Their Older Decks Inspected

With the recent deck collapses in various parts of the Washington region, Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) is advising owners of properties with decks older than 20 years to have a licensed third-party inspection of those decks. DPS advises that having older decks inspected every five years is a good safety measure that could help avoid disaster.

DPS Program Manager Jeremy Shupp has been assessing damages and causes of deck collapses. He offers the following tip for homeowners with aging decks,

“The No. 1 cause of most catastrophic collapses we see is a faulty ledger connection to the house,” he said. “If the property owner cannot verify the type of attachment, DPS recommends making the deck self-supporting or free-standing. Homeowners may also want to take a look at the DPS Deck Maintenance Checklist for more information.

DPS only conducts free deck maintenance inspections only in the month of May as part of Building Safety Month, but it continues to review plans for new deck permits and those decks are inspected to ensure they are safe and meet the current building codes.

The Deck Maintenance Checklist can be viewed at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DPS/Resources/Files/RCI/Deck-Maintenance.pdf.

The County does not maintain a list of contractors that could skillfully inspect a residential deck. However, the State of Maryland Department of Labor maintains a public database of real estate appraisers and home inspectors who are licensed with the Maryland Commission of Real Estate Appraisers, Appraisal Management Companies and Home Inspectors. Homeowners can find licensed inspectors on that database by name, location and license numbers who could provide a deck analysis.

If any homeowners are in disputes regarding their deck project, they can contact the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection at consumer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

“Our mission is safety and we are concerned that some of the County’s older decks may be at risk,” said DPS Director Mitra Pedoeem. “We want to make sure that all homeowners make deck safety a top priority to prevent further collapses.”