Timber and Decks

There are so many shows on telly and other tubes about houses, restoration, renovations, and so on, that I don’t expect to see some of the things I see.

Looking at houses for sale, looking at how people do nice stuff to make their homes attractive, and the things that stick out to me aren’t the good things.

Especially if they lay the timber decking upside down.

Maybe I should ask the people who own the house/s if they understand what happens to wood when it has channels to hold water and dust and muck? Do they think those ridges make it easier to sweep, walk on, stain? They don’t. That’s not the purpose of the ridges. They don’t stop a person slipping. They don’t look good or make it easy to do anything.

Unless you’re a termite. They love it when people put the decking in upside down.

This is a picture of what the timber on a deck should look like. It has the grooves on the underside, so the air can move between the decking and the supports.

Don’t put it in upside down, and sack any builder/handy-hand who tries to do it!

I’ve done a few renovations, a few builds, a few dozen repairs (hundreds, even). Oh, and I’ve inspected dozens of houses before I buy the one I’m happy to live in, but if they have anything that even looks like the person didn’t have a clue about what they did (you know, half tiles near the wall that have two inches of grout, upside-down timber on the deck, window sills that don’t have a slope, gutters you could cut for hay, that sort of thing. Oh, and trees in the wrong places).

For owners of houses who don’t know how things happen, use the internet to find out how to save yourself a not-too-far-in-the-future problem. Termites can destroy your home. Putting in decks with timber that’s upside down could cost the whole house.

Insurance doesn’t cover termite damage — they call it a lack of maintenance (tree damage could also fall under this definition if the tree is in the wrong place or overgrown).

Don’t get caught. Put the flat side of the timber facing up, make it easier to clean, stain, seal, etc., and keep the termites out of your home.

What brought it on? My niece bought a house, sent me pics. The roofline is sagging, the support beam for the used-to-be-two-rooms now-a-big-lounge-room is missing (I can tell because the wall and floor and ceiling are now misshapen and two windows have dipped at one end), and it has a front veranda and a back deck with the timber laid upside down. Said it was there for the wheelchair of the previous owner.

I asked if she was out of time for reneging on/pulling out of the contract.

They moved in six weeks ago. Out of time to ditch the lemon.

I sent her the contact details of a good pest inspector, who also does structural inspections.

With a bit of luck, she’ll still have a roof over her head tomorrow/next week.

14 thoughts on “Timber and Decks

  1. Good advice, Cage. If a person doesn’t know what to look for, they should make sure the realtor is the buyer’s agent and that buyer’s agent has a handyman he can trust to give the place a thorough going-over.

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    • Over here the buyer has to pay an inspector for the various reports on a house – let the buyer beware, they say – and each report is several hundred dollars. Not much when you consider the cost of a house, though. They should have had the inspections.
      Mind you, YouTube has all the installers (the ones I looked at) of decks putting them in upside down!

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      • UGH. How did you know which way was the right way? When I bought this place, my realtor had his person come through and inspect before we went any farther. Once that “passed” we started the formal proceedings which includes that several hundreds dollars inspection (paid for by the seller in my case but it’s negotiable, depending on the market.) The placed needed a new well, as the current one was only FOURTEEN FEET DEEP. The seller agreed to pay for the drilling of the well (it went down over 250 feet) which was a real blessing as there was no way I could afford it.

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      • When building with timber that’s going to be in the weather, it’s important to ensure air flow to stop rot. Anything that holds water (knot holes, etc.) need to be taken care of. The current Building Code states the purpose of the grooves and installation methods. It’s up to builders to do the right thing, but if they don’t read the Code … well, then it’s up to the building owner.
        As I’m not a very trusting person when it comes to inspections and such, I do it myself, and then call in a professional. It has to pass my criteria before I’ll spend money on the written report.

        I’m very glad they paid for the well! That would cost a fortune over here (if it was even permitted; the aquifer access is limited, as is the water it holds).

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