Decks and Patios

Deck and Patio Considerations for Your Home Inspection
By HomeCity Real Estate

Having a deck, patio, or porch on your property can be a huge asset for both home buyers and sellers

What could be better than spending a relaxing afternoon or evening on your own private outdoor spaceafter a long day?

Although traditional home inspections primarily focus on the HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and structural components of the house, outdoor spaces are definitely worthy of inspection too. Outdoor decks have a tendency to collapse over time, and patios become cracked and fragmented due to weathering. Even if you don’t plan to use these outdoor features every day, they can pose serious safety risks if not properly maintained and updated.

So as you prepare for your upcoming home inspection, keep these deck and patio considerations in mind.

Deck Inspection Tips

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, more than two million decks are built and replaced each year in North America alone, and of the 45 million decks that exist today, only 40 percent of them are completely safe.

Outdoor Decks are most commonly built using treated wood to avoid termite infestation and rot. All exposed areas of the deck must be visually inspected, including the deck supports, railings, and stairs.

For maximum stability, decks should be lag-bolted to your house, rather than simply secured with nails. Decks should also be supported with metal brackets attached to its ledger strip and header. Support posts shouldn’t come in direct contact with the soil, but rather sit upon a concrete footing and be treated for pests and rot as well.

Most deck-related injuries are related to use of the stairways and railings, so these items are of particular importance during a home inspection. Inspectors will look for light fixtures installed on and around the deck to detect any unsafe wiring configurations. A deck should never move or sway beneath you, and it should be just as stable as the main floor inside your actual house.

To recap, home inspectors look for these common issues when reporting on the condition of outdoor decks:

 Gate across the stairway
 Railings
 Handrails
 Deck rot
 Framing
 Support poles
 Insect infestations
 Lighting fixtures

Patio Inspection Tips

It’s important to remember that not all patios are created equal, and they can be built with everything from brick to stone and concrete. Concrete patios are especially problematic because this is a heavy material that settles unevenly and is prone to large cracks. Sections of concrete can become pushed up and cause residents and guests to trip and get injured. Patios that slope towards the house are also a problem because they make water flow to the foundation of the house, potentially causing foundation damage and basement flooding.

Many homeowners choose to put a covering over their patios to provide some shade and shelter during wind and rain. Patio covers require inspection as well to ensure that boards and brackets are aligned, secure, and in good condition. Patios are common places to put grills, porch swings, and picnic tables, providing a natural gathering place for entertaining guests. This type of safety hazard is especially dangerous because it has the potential to collapse on people sitting or standing under it at any time.

In summary, these are the main patio components that your home inspector should pay close attention

 Patio slope
 Elevation
 Cracks and damage
 Vegetation growth in patio holes
 Footing under steps
 Patio covering

Decks and patios are just the tip of the iceberg when you’re involved in a home sale with outdoor amenities. If the property has a swimming pool, tennis court, or water well, you may want to hire a specialist to go above and beyond the standard safety inspection report. Gazebos, sheds, and other backyard structures may require your attention and repair, and local laws often specify regulations about the usage of outdoor spaces and construction.

Outdoor recreation space is an often-overlooked feature of a property; however, these additions can be big selling points for buyers. They boost the curb appeal of your home and help you make a good sale without spending a ton of money in upgrades. When showing your property, make sure that decks, patios, and other outdoor spaces are well-maintained, attractive, and enticing to prospective buyers.