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Caution: Hard Hat Area

Caution: Hard Hat Area

On conscience and construction

comments (3) February 22nd, 2010 in Blogs
DebSilber DebSilber, design editor

Remember the rhyme, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back"? Well, I'm just a few paragraphs into a new article Mike Guertin sent me on unsafe decks, and the jingle in my head keeps saying "Step on my deck, break your (blank-ing) neck." That's because to my chagrin, the hazards Mike pointed out in his article were all too familiar: split boards, proud nails, loose balusters, corroded hardware. I can find an example of every one of them on the structure attached to my very own house.

An object lesson in homeowner irresponsibility, I suppose, by someone who ought to know better. But no worse, I'm thinking, than the mudroom light switch I failed to replace until it had gotten so loose it became a daily gamble whether or not it could be coaxed to make a connection. Acting as if a part of my electrical system were suffering from a virus that would get better on its own, I ignored it until the day it sizzled defiantly and refused, flat out, to let there be light.

For some builders I've known, it's like the old yarn about the shoemaker's children not having any shoes. They put all their energies into improving the homes of their customers and get pulled away from their own projects. The rest of us don't have that excuse. What's worse, we also don't have the excuse of not knowing when a construction intervention is called for. We may avert our eyes on a daily basis, but still we see all too clearly when something is worn out, hazardous or just crying out for replacement.

Will Mike's list guilt me into bringing my deck up to code (or at least making it less of a liability?) My best intentions say yes. But I  know there's another old saw out there (other than the one waiting for me to cut out and replace my sagging threshold): Do as I say, not as I do.



posted in: Blogs, deck, safety
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Comments (3)

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: I think that the root of "questionable building practice" especially in remodeling is the fault of the homeowner being to cheap to have it done right. Not that the contractor is off the hook, someone had to lower their standards to overlook certain safety issues.

I admit to having a few questionable projects out there from my younger/dumber days starting out as a remodeler. I lowered my standards to get the job, plain and simple.

Fortunately I grew wiser and now I am more assertive with clients. Even in these tougher times, while I recognize that not every project is "fine homebuilding" I would rather walk away from a project than lower my standards.
Posted: 7:35 am on April 21st

Mike_Guertin Mike_Guertin writes: If you deck is close to grade level then the fall usually won't cause injury should it collapse or the railing falls off. The trouble with deck failures as I understand it is they don't give much warning. Like an earthquake, it's quiet one moment and then it's tumbling.
Posted: 7:18 pm on February 27th

sunking sunking writes: My rule of thumb- If it keeps awake at night, I gotta make it right.....
Posted: 11:19 pm on February 23rd

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